The power of the small Cs
Posted by
Sonja Lombard at 12:00

The power of the small Cs

When Yellowwood launched Engager a few years ago, there were three Big Cs on which South Africa's most engaging brands scored highly: these were Conviction, Commitment and Connection. The nine pillars of brand engagement in the Engager model are massively important, but I'd like to suggest that when it comes to building a retail brand, there are another 3 Cs which are critically important but often get overlooked.


Nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than getting to the shelf to find that the product I buy every month isn't there.

I have a love hate relationship with my local Dis-Chem Pharmacy for this reason.  It's so convenient to get all of my supplements and personal care items in one place, but guaranteed one of the items I have on my shopping list will not be on the shelf.  I've even waited 3 months just to see the re-appearance of my favourite brand of hand cream, which is made in South Africa.   

Shoppers want their retailer to be steady and dependable. We don't want constant change on shelf, and nor do we want to return again and again until the item we need is back in stock. 


The importance of convenience can't be overstated; from having the right range for shoppers to get everything they need in one place, to the choice of location. The convenience of being just around the corner is the reason spaza shops can charge a premium.  Another important aspect of convenience is trading hours.  Woolworths has tailored their trading hours for each store to meet the needs of the shoppers in that area.  For example, their Adderley Street store caters to the 'office' trade, and is open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., while their stores in residential areas open later and trade until 9 p.m. to cater for late shoppers.  Some of the Woolworths Foodstops at Engen forecourts are open 24 hours a day. 

Pick n Pay and Checkers also offer extended shopping hours, with the added benefit that many of these stores now also carry in-house pharmacies.  It would be great to see other retailers following suit and aligning their trading hours with what works for the working population. It will help them fend off the rising threat of online retail, which doesn't ever close.


The last of my small Cs is caring.  These days it's imperative for businesses to have some form of responsible and sustainable citizenship. There are many local and global brands that are guided by their values and committed to building communities, and shoppers are increasingly demanding this from their retailers.

The concept of caring extends beyond CSI. It includes paying attention to the customer, and being conscientious and thorough in meeting their needs. Really caring for others is hard work and impossible to fake - it requires genuine concern, support and compassion. But those retailers that get it right will transform their brands into something that shoppers and society really care about, too. 

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