MEETING THE NEEDS OF CONSUMERS
We are driving various strategic initiatives to meet and beat the current and anticipated needs of consumers, delivering market-leading solutions for the value-conscious consumer, realising commercial opportunities in health and nutrition and snackification, and responding to significant changes in in-store and online shopping dynamics.
Meeting the needs of value-conscious consumers
In 2020, the board approved a value-trend strategy for the business with three strategic focus areas: driving our relevance in the value segment by highlighting the benefits of our current brands through marketing and communication best practice; meeting value-specific consumer needs through innovation and renovation; and identifying and delivering commercially viable opportunities to manufacture private label products to our benefit.
We have made some progress this year in each of these focus areas. In addition to ongoing value-led marketing campaigns, we have driven value-for-money innovations in certain categories to meet more affordable price points, including new value packs in beverages, canned food, and personal care categories. In response to growth in private label, we have been implementing our recently developed guidelines on engagement with customers in this regard, and although we have realised some specific private label manufacturing opportunities in categories where manufacturing capacity exists, the contribution to revenue remains small.
We have a clear pipeline of value-led innovations, including new value packs in groceries and beverages, and value offerings in groceries and beverages. Delivery of these innovations will be aided by the accelerated rollout of revenue management aimed at optimising promotional activity, cost savings projects that help keep prices competitive, and our strategy for competing effectively in the deep discounter channel.
PERFORMANCE SUMMARY 2022
- 60% reduction in consumer complaints, reflecting our focus on quality
- New healthier product lines in the Snacks, Baby, and Beverages categories
- Material gains in volume market share over last two years
- 28 external marketing awards
- E-commerce gains beyond targeted levels and within 1-2% of matching total basket share
- Completed first venture capital investment in a future-focused foods space
Opportunities for improvement
- Recall of certain baby powder products
- Scope to deepen use of big data analytics and further entrench consumer insights into our response
Our R100 million Venture Capital Fund was set up in mid-2021 to support up-and-coming consumer brands in the food and beverage sector. This forms an important part of our strategy to stay ahead of the curve in terms of key consumer trends, to ensure that we are better able to address the evolving needs of our consumers, and to give us access to exciting new developments in emerging brands and technologies. The fund’s first investment, made in March 2022, was in Herbivore Earthfoods, a company founded in 2014 with the goal of making healthy, plant-based foods accessible and affordable in South Africa. Through our investment in Herbivore Earthfoods – which includes financial capital, as well as support in the form of distribution, brand building, and research and development – we are partnering with the company to provide the necessary scale to make plant-based foods more accessible for the South African consumer.
Since our investment, Herbivore has acquired additional machinery to increase capacity and drive innovation, with their recently launched crumbed range and additional dairy-free offerings gaining traction. The partnership with Tiger Brands has enabled the company's first foray into the food service and quick service restaurant market, leveraging the strategic expertise of our out-of-home team.
The Venture Capital Fund has a strong pipeline of opportunities which are in the process of being evaluated, particularly within health and nutrition and snackification.
Realising commercial opportunities in health and nutrition
As Africa's largest food company, our health and nutrition agenda is integral to our corporate purpose of nourishing and nurturing more lives every day. In addition to the broader moral imperative of driving positive change on health and nutrition, we believe that there are valuable opportunities for business growth in leading this agenda in South Africa and across the continent. We are looking to realise these commercial opportunities through our health and nutrition strategy, which remains particularly relevant given the state of nutrition in South Africa, as well as pending labelling and marketing regulations.
The strategy, which has been in place for more than two years, includes four key focus areas:
- Renovating our existing product range to make more of our products compliant with our "Eat Well Live Well" standards, while striving towards global best practice
- Innovating within our existing brands and through new brands to develop more nutritious, affordable food products
- Educating consumers, in partnership with government, academia and NGOs, in a manner that allows them to make better informed decisions about their wellbeing
- Commercialising our portfolio to drive growth.
We continued to make progress this year in delivering on this strategy, launching new healthy product lines in the Snacks, Baby, and Beverages categories, including a lower calorie Energade beverages product, and a new healthy snack offering. We have also continued the rollout of clear and simple consumer-relevant health claims on various brands. Our innovation pipeline includes lower-sugar, lower-calorie beverages and grocery products, new protein power offerings, and health-led innovations in cereals, pasta and beverages.
Responding to the snackification trend
Our ongoing research confirms that snacking trends continue to gain momentum in South Africa. Initially led by younger consumers, this trend is now apparent across all consumer age groups. We continue to drive innovation and communication to capitalise on this trend through our snackification strategy that lays out our areas of focus over the next five years. We will be exploring multiple options to drive gains in this space including through inorganic growth and potentially some licensing deals. Innovation remains at the heart of our strategic focus; we will continue to drive innovative launches, including Tastic Rice Chips and ready-to-eat cereal snacks, which build on the successes of recent launches such as Black Cat into the count-line bars and slabs product categories. In launching new products we are spending equal effort in developing robust pipelines to enter existing and adjacent categories, aligned to our core and emerging capabilities. We have built an improved go-to-market capability that is being continually refined to meet changing market demands and consumer preferences.