Global brands successfully adapt to South African culture
01-10-2019 07:36:00 | by: Andrea Ayemoba | hits: 5726 | Tags:

The SA business landscape is a challenging one, but those who persevere are certainly rewarded. Local start-ups - like Bos Ice Tea, Sorbet and GetSmarter - that made it big have many lessons to impart that mostly involve learning from mistakes and setbacks, and pushing through them. The same determined mindset drives every corporate decision in the country, including global brands trying to establish a presence here. Their high profiles are meant to help South Africa flourish while discovering new and promising opportunities to continue expanding. Both the public and market are watching closely as brands pave the way for the country’s progress.


There is a history of big brands successfully putting down roots in South Africa. The US media company that owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central is one such case, as documented by Marketing Week. In 2016, Viacom clearly realised that it needed to overhaul its westernised approach to the country’s audience if it were to have the same success there as in other countries around the globe. By partnering with Fort, a SA creative agency, it managed to do this in videos and beyond. If any advice is to be had from this collaboration, it is to utilise local and not international tastes and trends.


The fashion retailer is one of the longest-standing global brands in South Africa since it opened its first store in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront in 2015. Headlines now speak of its own collaboration with Mantsho, a South African label intended to freshen up H&M’s next clothing line, recently launched in August 2019. According to Quartz Africa, feminine edginess is expected along with the brand’s distinctive logo of four women’s faces arranged into a symmetrical flower. Like Viacom, H&M is trying to reshape its brand identity within the country, so as to resonate more with local consumers. A wise attitude that will hopefully be mimicked by all global brands currently looking for SA investment.


Following the successful footholds of the brands above and especially the likes of Lotto Star and Supabets, Lottoland is extending its reach from Europe to SA. The potential of this move lies in its services, giving access to worldwide lottery draws, including the US Powerball and MegaMillions and Spain’s El Gordo de Verano. Indeed, so far it has established itself as one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe, with an 80.6% CAGR revenue between 2014 and 2017. With time and some of the local business insight that has served other international brands well, that market can be extended into SA just as effectively.

Lotteries, media brands and fashion retailers only scratch the surface of how South Africa can grow its market. However, no matter how important a brand may be on a global scale, what the cases above show is that success here requires embracing a new world of vivid colours, flavours and lifestyles. Learning from local experts and the people themselves is essential to ensuring a brand translates well. Good consumer engagement and sales will follow.