The all-new township mom


SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE…Brands in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and financial services categories wanting to reach young South African township moms should take note of the fact that they are prolific Facebook users, who mostly access this social networking site via mobile phones.

This was one of the facts to emerge from a recent research study conducted by ad agency Draftfcb which sampled 20 moms in the Johannesburg townships of Soweto and Alexandra.

“We don’t claim that this study represents all township moms in South Africa but we regard it as a good indication of current societal trends,’ said Rita Doherty, Group Strategy director Draftfcb at a media briefing held at The White Boy Shebeen in Johannesburg on 7 July.

Doherty said Draftfcb decided to conduct the research as it felt that the existing township mom stereotype was out of date. “So we found 20 moms in Alexandra and Soweto between the ages of 22 and 37, in the LSM5-7 group, who are all either employed or self-employed.

“The study revealed that the most important driver for these township moms is independence; this is a fierce motivator and what they use to define themselves. Although these women do like men and would like to have a faithful man in their lives, their biggest ambition is to be able to support themselves and their kids. They don’t believe in the traditional nuclear family. In fact, they regard themselves as stronger then men and feel they have more to offer than men.’

As per the study, these women have a strong focus on money and jobs so that they can achieve financial independence. They take great pride in the fact that they are able to support themselves and their offspring. Their biggest focus is to make sure their children are educated so that they too can be successful.

Doherty continued: “As a brand, if you need to reach these women then you need to speak to them in a way that will make them feel empowered. These women have a huge sense of happiness in their children. They feel like a different generation to their own mothers who sent their kids to the grannies to bring up. The modern township mom takes a huge pride in raising her kids on her own.

“Old Mutual is one of our clients so we wanted to explore the respondents’ consciousness about financial investment and found that in this department they are un-savvy, that they don’t have education policies for their children. But it emerged that these women, although they don’t respond to financial services advertising, do interact when institutions actively approach them. For instance, they might take up an offer received via sms from a financial consultant wanting to meet with them.’

The study found that on-the-go-media, such as radio, is very important to the women. They like TV but don’t have much time to watch it so instead have discovered and heartily embraced Facebook.

“These moms have a huge sense of delight about Facebook. Most of them access Facebook via their mobile phones and they Facebook while cooking, listening to the radio, lying in the bath or in bed. They log onto Facebook daily and chat with friends so it’s a very active habit. For R5 a day they can Facebook as much as they want. Their entry point into Facebook was hearing radio DJs talking about it. A big topic on their Facebook pages and groups is unfaithfulness of men.

“However, these women are not interacting with brands because mobile phones are not exposed to two-way advertising. So to reach them and interact with them you have to use off-line media like radio. As a brand you have to go in and solve real problems to get them to interact,’ explained Doherty.

In closing Doherty stressed that Draftfcb tells is clients: “Digital or dead’. “The next big question is – how do you invest in digital because there are so many channels in digital? We advise clients to continue to use off-line media like radio and not to come across as “brand emotional’ but to rather solve problems for consumers.

“One big trend we see is personal branding – how people structure their identities around particular brands – this is aspirational brand building. In terms of more hardworking brands, for instance you could put up a financial site where the visitor can input their monthly spend and the site calculates financial profiles. I am a strong believer in using your website to educate people. For example, a brand like Toyota could use its website to give people answers to questions about traveling around the country.

“We’ve seen the rise of the two-screen phenomenon – TV and social media are having a symbiotic relationship and the two mediums leveraging and amplifying each other. It’s not just about banner advertising – it’s got to be two-way,’ noted Doherty. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)


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