Of the 2 500 people surveyed in Project Reboot, conducted by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing, 60% say they are worried about the future and their fear is fuelling a considerable change in their buying behaviour. As the economic downturn gains momentum, "it can no longer be 'business as usual'," warns institute director, Professor John Simpson.
Simpson was commenting on the study conducted by the institute and their research partners Bateleur Khanya Research Solutions on the impact of the recession on local consumer behaviour.
The survey is the largest of its kind ever carried out in South Africa in the grip of recession.
With many already on a shoestring budget, there is now the added pressure of mounting economic uncertainty, unrelentingly high food prices and the overall effects of the 'Big Squeeze'. But how do people feel and react?
The majority, 76%, said they are now more cautious when spending, 50% are worried about losing their jobs, 65% plan shopping more carefully and 33% say the recession is putting a strain on their personal relationships.
While 78% of participants claim their personal income has not fallen in the past six months, an almost equal number of participants believe the economic situation will worsen.
The research team believes their findings will help business and industry effectively navigate these times.
"It is time to sit up and really listen to what your client base is telling you about why and how their lifestyle priorities have shifted," Simpson said. "We believe this time to be a watershed moment for local business and marketers as the ramifications of this recession will be felt a long, long time after they fade away from memory."
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