The uninvited guest

empty shelves - uninvited guest

The year 2020 is definitely a symbolic year, not only because it’s the 20th year of the 3rd millennium, a leap year and the beginning of a new decade, but also because it is a disruptive year. It’s April 2020 and the year is still making sure that we are alert to the change it promised, woke to the beginning of a new era and transformation – be as it may. It is by far one of the most eventful years for millennials who are the working force, consumers, and business owners.

The sheer jubilation the nation felt when ushering the new year has turned into either panic, fervour, anxiety or profit depending on the side of the equilibrium one finds favourable during this period of the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus came in like a thief in the night and as a result forced many to transform into something better or change into something new altogether. The shift in consumer behaviour, the way business needs to now operate and the unstable economy has had a great impact on big and small brands.

There are select brands that have tailored their products and services to ensure consumer participation and are effectively gaining new customers or retaining loyal customers, such as the likes of:

Pick n Pay

A select number of Pick n Pay franchise stores are offering a drive-thru service to their customers in Gauteng, Free State, the Western Cape, Limpopo, Kwa Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga North West and Eastern Cape during the lock-down.

Pick n Pay drive through
Pick n Pay collect direct


NetFlorist, The e-tailer is now offering delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables select areas in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban. This offering helps consumers shop for fresh produce from the safety of their own homes.

Netflorist fresh produce
Netflorist fresh produce ad

A portion of consumers in South Africa changed their spending habits rapidly and their choices of products and services as well as brands they support are influenced by whether or not their investment, will help alleviate the spread of the virus or sustain a certain lifestyle for the duration of this Coronavirus pandemic.

The business environment understands that its people are what makes the brand (from its employees to its consumers as well as suppliers), and that is why most businesses widely encourage a healthy working environment as well as the health and safety of all stakeholders.

We already know that many businesses have prioritized their stakeholders’ health and safety and the below are those amongst many that are making sure that this global crisis brings the best out of the its brand.

  • Clicks, is offering free flu vaccinations for all their store staff to help build their immunity.
  • Unilever, has put global measures in place for all their people, adhering to the announcement made by the World Health Organization.

The South African brand has an uninvited guest that will affect the already fragile economy and all proudly South African brands, as well as international brands making a profit from consumers in the country, have a big role to play in ensuring that we all come out stronger and better prepared for the next transformative life events or should I say, an uninvited guest.

How brands are exploiting #MandelaDay

Mandela Day is a day that is set out to commemorate the birth of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. In his remembrance, ordinary people are required to dedicate at least 67 minutes of their time to doing something good for others, particularly those in need. Great concept right? However, brands have found the day opportune for them to push their brands and drive sales. One particular brand that really caught my attention was Pick n Pay, a leading retail company in South Africa. Pick n Pay had a “target” of donating 1 million meals to the less fortunate. In order for them to be able to do so, they invited the public to help them reach their target. How convenient, this is a company that makes an annual turnover of more than R75 billion, yet they are asking the public to make donation to fulfill their #MandelaDay ambitions. Here is my thing, if Pick n Pay wants to donate 1 million meals for #MandelaDay, they can easily do so solely from their pockets.

Pick n Pay, however was not the only brand that was opportunistic on #MandelaDay. Many other brands flooded our timelines with their “good deeds” for #MandelaDay, some brands asked their followers to Retweet and Share their content in exchange for donations; what a clever way of increasing followers and brand awareness? If you (as a brand) want to giveaway R67 000 to charity, why should we (the public) retweet the brand’s tweet 67 000 times? This also goes to show how businesses never give without gaining anything. Gary Vaynerchuk often speaks about how marketers ruin everything, in this instance brands are exploiting #MandelaDay with their desire for PR.

Some people would argue by saying that at the end of the day someone is getting assisted or fed, while others say #MandelaDay is for those who want to be seen helping other people. Therefore they would not partake in #MandelaDay initiatives and give a chance to those who have to tick boxes for their CSI projects. Here is my thing, if giving back is ingrained within a brand, days such as #MandelaDay should not be the highlight of the brand giving back. A huge slap on the brands that are using #MandelaDay to meet their business objectives.

I am interested in knowing your thoughts on #MandelaDay and how brands are capitalising on Mandela Day for their own benefit. Please leave your comment below, and Also doo remember to get in touch with @PatOnBrands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram