Choppies’ customer base has shifted from indifferent budget shoppers to a more young and discerning population that is dealing with a plethora of economic challenges while confronting social injustices.
The biggest retailer in the country, Choppies, says it now has to cater for an increasingly polarised population with very different purchasing capacity and range of products they can afford and are willing to pay for. Botswana is besieged with a sluggish economy that is adding jobs at a lower pace, resulting in soaring unemployment and diminished disposable incomes due to added strains of supporting unemployed graduates.
This has dented Choppies’ core customers which are primarily value conscious, lower to middle-income consumers, cash, and small basket shoppers. The retailer has highlighted increased urbanisation as risky to the retailer’s profitability of a model based on a vast footprint that extended to rural areas which is hampered by people migrating to cities and towns in search of economic opportunities and jobs.
Beyond economic hardships, Choppies’ customers are becoming more conscious about the social injustices, fuelled by increasing income disparity, the retailer says. Choppies has in the past been at the receiving end of criticism that ranged from currying favour with politicians and government officials, mistreating and underpaying its workers and its anti-competitive tactics. This has led to decreased loyalty to the brand from some of its core customers.
The consumers have also turned less loyal to brands and are more price conscious, with decentralisation of purchasing decisions influenced by various factors, and efforts to maintain costs, the consumers prefer a one stop shop where they can do all their grocery shopping or home delivery. Buyers are now reluctant to carry cash are more health conscious, leading a surge in demand for organic, fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood offerings and reduction in red meat consumption.
Furthermore, Choppies customers are environmentally conscious, pushing for transparency in what they buy, paying attention to set on labelling, food origin and traceability. The retailer has been blasted for questionable hygiene standards in some of its stores.
Choppies says it is responding to the changing consumer preferences by offering diverse products and services in one area targeting all kinds of shoppers, and providing in-store, online and other transaction formats that increase convenience and experience but that have a positive bottom line. The company says it is also enhancing its credibility and transparency in terms of value proposition and offering.
“The saturated market has led to more competition and Choppies still has room for more revenue by adding more value to customers that have a relatively high purchasing power and their consumption habits are slowly becoming more sophisticated,” the company said in its 2020 annual report.