On Shelf: Survivor South Africa

by Louise Burgers. New products and brand launches in a time of corona: Privilege buying and out of stocks; to handwashing solutions; and #DieselDenimFridays.

by Louise Burgers. Privilege buying and out of stocks; to handwashing solutions; and before the corona-dramarama, Diesel managed to pull off #DieselDenimFridays.

Self-isolation rations

Food Lover’s Market was quick off the mark on Monday morning, March 16, 2020, with handsanitiser sprays at the door and an offer for shoppers to all get their hands sanitised. Inside, the Longbeach Mall store in Cape Town had arranged the perfect panic buying survival shopping list in huge store displays, consisting of heaps of tuna tins; two-minute noodles and rice on special. Nearby were pallets of coke and long-life milk. Toilet paper was already sold out though. At nearby Pick n Pay, baked beans were levitating off the shelfs with management having to restock by 10am already. Mall management were running around putting up COVID-19/coronavirus information posters and the big screen displayed more info; and by the next day, Tuesday, March 17, had already installed hand sanitiser stations at each entrance to the mall. What was concerning though, was that apart from the chemist, no frontline retail staff were protected with gloves or masks. Some had their own bottles of sanitiser spray to keep their workstations clean. But no other mall staff, from the parking attendants to the trolley teams had any protection. This is something that retailers and malls need to address urgently.

Handsanitiser sanity

Two entrepreneurs were quick off the mark this week, getting out publicity on their mobile hand washing stations to ensure handwashing is available even where there is no running water immediately accessible. South African startup, mo-Wash, from entrepreneurs Godfrey Sono and Sibusiso Vilakazi, is a stand-alone, fully automatic portable unit that requires no plumbing or drainage. It is a cost-effective hygiene solution for any indoor or outdoor use. The brand won the 2018 Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Award. This innovative mobile hand-washing unit has a hands-free water delivery system with a timer that controls water flow, a solar panel to power the water station, plus a battery option, and even Wi-Fi. The Mo-Wash unit delivers a powerful 10-second wash, but the owner can adjust the settings according to their needs. “mo-Wash is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of handwashing rituals and the role they play in preventing the spread of diseases. In our mission to do this, we visit schools across South Africa to instil the importance of learning how to clean one’s hands properly from an early age, we show them water-saving techniques, as well as the impact that handwashing has on the communities around them,” said Sono. The units are available to rent.

#DieselDenimFridays hits three stores nationwide

HaveYouHeard sashayed into town just over a week ago, pulling off three simultaneous activations at three different Diesel stores in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Two of the stores were kitted out with in-house illustrator and artwork stations so customers could personalise canvas templates of Diesel garments, such as jeans, T-shirts and jackets, as well as footwear. The Menlyn Park store featured an interactive digital graffiti wall that allowed the brand’s fans to redesign and personalise the templates digitally. Live DJs and drinks on offer kept customers happy and drew foot traffic into the stores. Each event was amplified by micro-influencers who dropped by the store during the week leading up to #DieselDenimFridays, as well as on the day. These included @SvaBayi in Durban, @Leago_scars in Johannesburg and @Brian_nzilane in Pretoria while DJs in Menlyn included Oscar Mbo and Malankane. Explained Ryan McFadyen, founder and head of strategy at HaveYouHeard: “The purpose was to create walkability around the Diesel brand in a brand relevant way, with the primary objective to draw feet into store and sales growth.”



Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe here.