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Reardon Sanderson, GM: Group Sales and Marketing at Tiso Blackstar
Reardon Sanderson, GM: Group Sales and Marketing at Tiso Blackstar

Foreword for Sowetan/Sunday World National Stokvel Survey


By Reardon Sanderson, GM: Group Sales & Marketing at Tiso Blackstar Group - Jul 31st 2018, 13:17

Ubuntu is one of those uniquely African concepts that, for many, define what it means to be South African. A beautiful word that exemplifies a philosophy of caring for the welfare of every individual in a community – that special acknowledgement that “I am because we are.” Ubuntu is a spirit that ignites people to work together, for the benefit of all. 

We live in very exciting, yet challenging times as South Africans. We’re all striving for a better future…where teamwork and ubuntu are essential. It should come as no surprise then that the stokvel phenomenon has become such a large part of our culture: the stokvel is ‘economic’ ubuntu in action.

Stokvels are the most prominent informal savings and investment mechanisms in the country. They’re regulated by the small, intimate groups of friends and family that are committed to paying an agreed amount into them on a regular basis – to create a savings pot that can be shared for a variety of common purposes. Trust, commitment and responsibility are the shared values - the glue - that bind members together.

The stokvel phenomenon represents ubuntu that is not confined by the strictures of conventional business practices. It is, therefore, one that is proving complex to navigate for retailers, brands, and those in the banking and insurance sectors, and is understandably drawing their increasing interest. Here’s why…

It would probably be hard to imagine that these small close-knit groups could have any significant impact on the country’s bottom-line. Yet they do. Nearly twelve million South Africans participate in 440 000 stokvels that plough R54 billion into the economy annually. It’s not only an incredible witness to savings discipline that comes from necessity, but it also represents a formidable amount of spending power. And this is why marketers are sitting up.

It’s the informality and diversity of the stokvel ‘sector’ that is challenging for businesses which traditionally operate on volume and value principles. While the purchasing power of the stokvel collective is strong, the purposes and motivations for stokvels to exist may be vastly different, and this means that marketing approaches need to be fitted appropriately.

In addition, it’s important to understand that stokvel members may also act or respond differently to brands and advertising, depending on whether they’re purchasing on behalf of other members, or in their private or individual capacity. The “I am because we are” philosophy often overrides individual preference for certain brands, products or services when those holding the purse-strings need to make the best choices for a larger group. The ability of marketers to understand these motivations and nuances should not be under-estimated.

With this in mind, we’re very excited to once again partner with African Response in presenting annual research of the South African stokvel environment. African Response is the leading and pioneering market research agency of stokvel groups and has conducted a range of qualitative and quantitative surveys to assist businesses to develop stokvel strategies over the past seven years.

The survey is nationally representative, with a randomly selected sample of 2 500 respondents. Thirty percent of the sample covered small towns, rural and deep rural areas whereas the balance covered large towns, cities and metropolitan regions. The survey was designed in line with the national urbanisation rate of 64% (Statistics South Africa), with the data weighted to the 2017 mid-year population estimates of which 31.2% of the 56,5 million South Africans are 16 years and older.

In this survey, we provide an overview of some of the key insights about Stokvels. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look forward to taking brand-owners and marketers interested in customised sessions on an insightful journey into the stokvel phenomenon. We’ll provide demographic and geographic descriptions that contextualise the various stokvel types from Burial societies that focus on the provision of funeral cover or services, through to Money, Saving and Grocery stokvels. We’ll also share insights into savings that get funnelled into Investment, Birthday and Holiday stokvels.

Importantly, we’ll also highlight relevant brands and businesses mentioned by members when choosing how and where to spend or invest their money.

Tiso Blackstar and its titles have a reputation for delivering credible, transparent news, where readers find a safe, protected space – online and in print - where citizens trust what they read. Thanks to the leadership of our editors, fearless journalists, an unwavering dedication to editorial integrity, and a desire to build a healthy democracy, our titles are the go-to platforms for advertisers to extend the reach of their brands. Tiso Blackstar’s support of the African Response Stokvel Survey is evidence of our commitment to deliver value for advertisers.

Please join us in learning and celebrating the power of the stokvel, and sharing the spirit of ubuntu.


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