Retailers must pressure manufacturers to stop insulting SA consumers

It is fascinating watching South African consumers slowly but surely casting aside their apathy and demanding good quality and service. One hopes that business is keeping an eye on this transformation because, given the vagaries of consumerism, things don’t happen slowly but surely, they change overnight and suddenly, all that cutting of corners that errant shops and service providers thought they were getting away with, leap out and bite them on the bum.
Of course, there are still far too many things happening here in SA that wouldn’t be tolerated in most other countries.

Devil in the detail

Products and services that are a reminder that sustainable customer retention and satisfaction are entirely dependent on those often overlooked little details rather than big bang advertising and publicity campaigns.

A good example of this detail is the number of imported consumer electronic and electrical products that are sold in SA with those ill-fitting little two-pin European plugs.

Now, these are not just little things like toasters and electric drills but include some very expensive TV sets, sewing machines, home movie systems, dishwashers and the like.

Diabolical two pin plugs

And, while it makes sense to have a two-pin plug on something like a cellphone charger, hair dryer, or razor one might take on overseas trips, it is hugely inconvenient when importers flog the bigger stuff with flimsy plugs that you can’t cut off and replace with our big, bulky three-pin equivalents because it voids warranties and you are left having to spend anything from R12.00 to R25.00 on adapters that never seem to last and which can be downright dangerous.

It’s actually extremely insulting when you think about it, because in effect, companies overseas are saying, “Let’s flog this stuff to South Africa, but frankly they’re not important enough for us to fit their stupid plugs.”

For some importers and distributors this has already created a marketing problem but, for most, consumer apathy continues to allow them to get away with it.

But, as consumerism grows, more and more ordinary South Africans will do as I do and refuse point blank to buy any imported gadget or appliance that hasn’t got our plug on it.

That’s the thing about marketing – if you have no respect or consideration for your customers you won’t keep them very long. Sooner or later they cotton to your cutting corners.

Kleoss Capital acquires shareholding in Real Foods

Kleoss Capital, a 100% black-owned South African private equity investment manager with a level 1 B-BBEE accreditation, has acquired a significant minority shareholding in Real Foods (owners of the Kauai, Nü Health Café and Kohu brands.
Dean Kowarski
Dean Kowarski
This will allow Real Foods to pursue exciting new acquisitions in the natural food industry in the near future. Real Foods, founded by Dean Kowarski in 2013, and partnered with Genesis Capital Partners in 2014, is at the forefront of the global trend towards health and wellness, and aims to be the leader in shaping the South African natural food industry.

“Finding a like-minded partner was very important to us,” says Kowarski. “In talking to Kleoss Capital, we realised that we had a partner that shared the values of transparency, authenticity and an entrepreneurial approach to our business that makes it such a strong leader in the health and wellness marketplace.

“Kleoss also provides another valuable resource, in that it proactively engages with its investments and businesses at a board and strategy level. So it adds a wealth of expertise to the company that will be important to our planned expansion.”

Occupying health & wellness space

In 2015, Real Foods announced the acquisition of Kauai, which it has since successfully rebranded into a premium brand in the Fast Casual market. The new positioning has refocused Kauai on tasty, healthy and natural food, with an emphasis on nutrition and responsible sourcing.

The group has also attracted like-minded partners in the health & wellness space: Virgin Active have entrenched its long-term relationship with Real Foods as its nutrition partner and the group was also selected as a launch partner for Discovery Vitality’s Active Rewards Programme.

Creative growth strategies like this appealed to Kleoss Capital. “The strong management team at Real Foods has achieved an incredible amount in a very short time and this has been a major factor in our decision to invest,” says Kleoss Capital CEO, Hale Matsipa. “However, this is also a very attractive investment sector for us and natural food and wellness is a unique subsector that targets an economically resilient and growing portion of the population.”

Kleoss Capital partner Zain Laher adds, “In our view, the business also shows massive potential for international expansion opportunities, given global market developments.”

Kowarski, Laher and Matsipa agree that the venture is potentially game changing for the South African food sector. “We are also excited about BEE transformation within Real Foods. For example, there is potential to introduce black controlled franchise stores within Kauai. This would be our modest contribution, to create black entrepreneurs through a franchise model, particularly amongst the youth. We have found Real Foods receptive to our ideas around BEE transformation,” says Matsipa.

Growing market worldwide

Globally, the natural food and health and wellness markets have grown exponentially over the past few years. A recent Fortune 500 ranking report showed a clear consumer movement towards healthier food options, with most traditional commercial fast food retailers showing declines in the ranking.

Kowarski believes that the consumer shift towards well-being and natural products is undeniable: “The health food industry is showing massive growth globally, and we are seeing that happening in South Africa, citing among others the Nielsen Global Health and Fitness Report, and US-based Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers Report.

“There are three health-focused food restaurants in Fast Casual’s US top 10 (Sweet Green, Zoe’s Kitchen & Native Foods Café. In Southern Africa, we see our own fast casual health brands – Kauai, Kohu and Nü Health Café – as the market leaders in this space. Kauai, Kohu and Nü Health Café have 149 stores in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius and Dubai.”

Given the success of the Real Food brands, the signs are clear that South Africans want options that are in line with the Real Foods’ philosophy. The company affirms that this partnership will allow the company to provide healthy, natural food products to an ever-increasing market of health conscious consumers.

Probyo introduces the ‘medicine of the future’, live probiotics drinks

Probyo, a newly launched brand, has just released an all-natural range of three cultured drinks, which aim to promote general health and wellbeing. The brand’s Digestive, Immune and Sports drinks all contain live probiotics, including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which encourage positive health benefits.
Probyo introduces the ‘medicine of the future’, live probiotics drinksThe new range is affiliated with The Noakes Foundation and R3 from every bottle sold will go to the Foundation for its research and Eat Better South Africa campaign, which seeks to promote better health in poorer communities. In addition, the company has committed to donating a number of the drinks regularly to be distributed on the ground via The Noakes Foundation.

Fermented foods are fast gaining ground as the latest food fad and health food wonder. Not only do they have an attractively tangy flavour profile, they are also better than their unfermented counterparts are, as they are cultured. Cultured foodstuffs contain live probiotic microbes that boost the immune system, aid digestion and unlock energy for the body. “Cultured drinks are what you would call ‘functional’ foods,” says Alastair Burns, director of Probyo.

Jayne Bullen, manager of The Noakes Foundation, adds, “We are fascinated by the possibility of probiotics as a new frontier in modern medicine and have already started clinical trials. Whilst still anecdotal to some degree, there is early evidence that probiotics ingested regularly through a variety of fermented food and drink products or in capsule form could become the medicine of the future. We are thrilled to have identified a local product such as Probyo that makes live probiotics so readily available.”

Three ‘flavours’

Probyo Digestive aids in the body’s natural process of digestion. It is a lacto-fermented fruit juice, which is sugar-free and rich in live lactic acid bacteria, as well as un-locked and bio-available nutrients and microbial biogenics.

Probyo Immune packs an immune-boosting punch with a cultured blend of beneficial herb extracts including chamomile flowers, rose hips, olive leaf, elderberry, Ginseng and Astragalus.

Probyo Sports is the ideal product for an active lifestyle, providing superfoods that enhance the body’s natural energy supply. It contains a combination of well-known natural products such as honeybush, aronia berries, blackcurrant, cranberries, goji berries, beetroot, sour cherry, turmeric, cocoa, Siberian ginseng, guarana and spirulina.

Refurbishment of Eastgate Shopping Centre nears completion

The Eastgate Shopping Centre in Johannesburg is nearing the completion of its 24-month refurbishment and extension programme.
Refurbishment of Eastgate Shopping Centre nears completionThe extensive project has already seen a façade and image transformation. “The design approach takes its inspiration from Eastgate’s location in a valley with beautiful surrounding views out to the northern and southern hills. Massive windows have been added on the lower and upper level of Woolworths to emphasise the external environment and achieve more natural light,” says Alex Phakathi, Liberty Property Portfolio Fund manager for Eastgate Shopping Centre.

“The refurbished entrances have double volume glass façades with huge overarching roofs to welcome the landscape into the centre and in turn allow the centre to reach out to its physical environment. The relocation of lifts and mall links and the creation of an additional two levels of parking have considerably improved the flow of foot-traffic of the mall. One of the goals of the project is also to improve accessibility for shoppers.”