According to CEO of SPARK Media, Gill Randall, the latest ROOTS 2019 data that has just been released enables users to analyse and interpret the evidence-based discoveries of modern based marketing. These detail how marketers can communicate meaningfully to potential consumers, influence their decisions and ultimately their actions.

Marketers, advertisers and brand growth specialists are in the business of building brands, looking for opportunities to talk to potential buyers or product users by geographic area and potentially influence behaviour. That is why there is a need to understand buyer behaviour. This works best when we understand what makes consumers tick.


According to Professor Andrew Ehrenberg from Ehrenburg Bass Institute (EBI), ’Your consumers are just someone else’s consumers who occasionally buy from you.’ What the ROOTS data reveals is the detail for each local geographic area of the sharing of shoppers.

Take Diepkloof for example. Pick n Pay is by far the biggest food and grocery retailer in the area at 87%. However, 31% of these Pick n Pay shoppers also shopped at Shoprite, 31% at Cambridge Food and 18% at Checkers in the past month.

Area by area and category by category, this non-loyalty discovery holds true. Media platforms are not immune to sharing audiences either. The local newspaper, Boksburg Advertiser, is read by 87% of Purchase Decision Makers (PDMs). Of these PDMs, 7% also read the Sunday Times, 5% read Daily Sun and Move magazine. 26% of these same readers go to the movies, 31% access the internet (several times a day) and 26% read news on an online news site.


Professor Ehrenberg said evidence shows that, ‘Consumer behaviour is random and unpredictable – adjusted for our mood or need at a particular moment in time.’

ROOTS reveals that high incidences of markets are thin, therefore look for high aggregate propensities, clusters or catchment areas. Consumers that are interested in food, cooking or baking can be found in Kimberley, Uitenhage and Jo’burg North whereas consumers in Constantia, Knysna and Milnerton show high instances of buying wine (once a week or more often) while those in Nelspruit are interested in home and décor.

Of the 51,000 shoppers in Midrand, 77% bought small electrical appliances in the past 12 months, 3250 in the past month and 813 in the past week. These hard to find shoppers also have so much choice! Competing for their customers in this category is Game, HiFi Corp, Checkers Hyper, Clicks and Pick n Pay Hyper, etc.

Decision making

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow stated, ‘We think much less than we think we think.’ ROOTS reveals just how competitive markets are across categories at a local level and that customers are spoilt for choice. ROOTS measures mindshare or mental availability of brands in the category.

While spoilt for choice, changing consumer needs over the years results in different shopping patterns emerging area by area. We know the need for convenience has changed behaviour and area by area we see market share changes where possibly newer entrants like retailers at garage forecourts have had an effect.

The real battle for market share is at local level. The Pick n Pay Hyper in Krugersdorp has over the last two ROOTS surveys increased from 3% to 20%, in the large electrical appliance category.

Local imperative

The principle is to understand your shoppers and users at a local level. Geo-segmentation is the priority segmentation tool. ROOTS reveals and identifies high incidence areas for users and stores, based on people with a likelihood to purchase a specific category.

The average time that consumers are willing to travel differs by category and area. On average, shoppers are only willing to travel 13 minutes for food and groceries. However, the real value for helping make strategic decisions is again realised at the local area. In Dobsonville, consumers travel for 20 minutes while in Amanzimtoti it is only 7 minutes.

‘While buyer behaviour will adapt to changing market realities, our brains don’t physically change and are hard-wired to respond in certain ways. ROOTS helps markets unpack many of these buyer behaviour traits and assists us to understand what makes consumers tick,’ concluded Randall. ‘To grow a brand, although difficult (and sometimes expensive), attract the attention of light and non-users. Be mentally available, making it easy to be thought of by as many people as possible and be physically available, through distribution, location, accessibility and ease of purchase.’