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Posted: September 12, 2017

The South African market is unique and interesting in its contrasts and dynamics. While premium products thrive in the richer areas, the country also has a large middle class with disposable income. But the unstable economy and high unemployment rates, particularly in the youth market, means that disposable income is still spent with caution, with value being sought out by consumers.

Nando’s in South Africa finds itself in a unique position within the food service industry. It is neither a strictly fast food outlet such as KFC and McDonald’s; nor a pure casual dining destination such as Wimpy or Spur. It finds itself straddling both these categories in a unique ‘fast casual’ dining space in which it offers both a sit-down experience as well as take-away food services (including delivery and drive-through).

These markets are highly competitive, characterised by aggressive promotional campaigns, discounts and regular niche offerings. With Nando’s straddling both categories, it operatesat a premium to most of its QSR competitors and on par with its dine-in counterparts.

Given this context, all competitors have to work very hard to prove value, not just in price but in quality of food for both older,and especially younger customers who are always seeking value and a good meal experience.
Nando’s is a very successful brand with equity from its clear purpose, strong identity, cultural relevance and of course tasteful and tender chicken. its advertising is acclaimed for bringing social and political issues to the fore in a very South African way. Nando’s ads are always topical and memorable, however the translation into sales has lagged behind and so presented Nando’s with a unique challenge.

The Food Services market spends a large amount on media (about R534m between January and May 2016) resulting in many messages and demands on the consumers attention by all competitors. The fierce competitiveness in this market has increased with other and new global brands entering the industry, resulting in a need to not just communicate but break-through in a memorable way that results in product purchases.

In 2015, Nando’s awarded agency M&C Saatchi Abel its business with the specific task of maintaining thepopular comical tone,with clear purpose and character, whilst bringing a retail focus so as to translate healthy brand scores into increased sales.

Given Nando’s premium pricing it could not compete in a price war with some of its QSR counterparts. In addition, with a smaller budget compared to its competitors, the brand had to optimise its resources and brand assets to cut through the extensive clutter and prove its value to cash strapped consumers in a market where low prices are offered by other players. Nando’s would need to couple its existing strength in brand properties while communicating its value without trying to be a typical low priced QSR offering.

With the need to broaden the target market to include younger consumers, Nando’s chose to target the younger cash strapped millennials by addressing their particular mindset, being one of ‘intelligence, ambition, youthfulness of spirit and patriotism’. The brand was also mindful that it would need to connect to this market in a way that shows it understands that they value experiences over pure consumption. A traditional campaign highlighting product and price would not work for this audience. Nando’s had the opportunity to use its carefully crafted personality to speak to the audience in a relevant way.

The agency needed to marry a retail campaign around the combination of Nando’s food as well as mindset of the audience: the flavour and the fire so to speak.

The two campaigns that came from this strategy were ’Back to Work’ and ’Melissa – selfies’.

Television was used as the base of the campaign to enable reach and the ability to tell a story. These were then leveraged to owned social media platforms, earned PR and in-restaurant messaging at points of purchase.
The impact of both campaigns was measured by Millward Brown from an advertising effectiveness and brand health point of view. Nando’s used internal sales figures as well as an internal research group of the core youth audience – called ‘Firestarter’s for its retail measures.

Nando’s saw great results,exceeding its sales targets in the first half of 2016 while meeting its required retail focus. It also earned acclaim at the Apex awards wining a Bronze award for significant short-term effects on sales and/or behaviour within the Change category.

All in all, the brand has managed, in a competitive market, to exceed its sales targets despite being priced higher than its competitors as well maintain and remain true to its character and brand personality.