#CoronavirusSA: Don’t be a Covidiot, do the right thing – 23 March 2020

Our weekly tracking to curate and update our readers on the latest developments in South Africa and Africa around COVID-19 and its impact on the brand and retail value chain.

We launched our COVID-19 news tracker for the retailing eco-system in South Africa and Africa last week: Fear and loathing in SA, and will be continuing to update our readers with relevant news for our brands and retailers each week of this pandemic.

MONDAY, March 23, 2020

Carbs over kale as consumers lockdown

We always knew that when it came down to the apocalypse, no one was going to stockpile with kale. Bloomberg confirms it: Consumers are loading up with shelf-stable items from canned meat and soup to pretzels and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. They are also loading up on treats such as popcorn, pretzels and chips which have all shown sales growth of 30-48% in the week ending up on March 14 as Americans prepare for lockdown. Bloomberg postulates that this shift back from heathlier products towards traditional fare might boost the fortunes of packaged goods manufacturers.


New world, new words

We humans love our labels and with every new crisis comes a new language to desanitise and legitimise. Social distancing is one. The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar revived the popular 1980s phrase ‘cocooning’ to put a comforting spin on lockdown in his speech last week (worth watching). And now we have ‘covidiot’. Which by the way, also applies to brands doing the wrong thing. You’re welcome.


Be authentic in your messaging

This cartoon was doing the rounds on social media over the weekend. It says it all. Brands do more – consumers want more than a trite message. They want support and genuine reassurance. Figure it out and fast. It’s all very well for Vodacom to send around a message that says, “Take care”, but you know what your consumers really want? Yes, cheaper data and FREE data during this crisis. And what is with all the funeral policy specials, from everyone and their dodgy uncle? I’ve seen several Facebook posts in this regard expressing disgust and it is in extremely bad taste and only serves to panic an already fearful population further.

FOR MORE: #CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 16-20, 2020.

*Curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


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.


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