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our offering

What does Infusion offer?
Infusion acts as an incubator, developing and attracting ideas around serving need of under-served and under-developed markets. Some of these ideas move in and out of the incubator for short periods of time while others develop and are financed by Infusion until it is fully fledged products/services/projects. The greatest example of such an incubated project is obviously the successful frank community-based research channel addressing information shortages in under-developed markets. Another less known one, that is now truly finding its feet with its first significant deals signed and sealed is an alternative housing concept called NewWall.

Infusion offers community and corporate development through internal and external contextual and tactical research, supported by consulting services and facilitated by business networking. Going way beyond once-off, fragmented, uncontextualised research projects, we offer a continuous channel answering more than just a research question.

Infusion lifestyle research
The Infusion Lifestyle Research project is our flagship. This community-based lifestyle research project currently operates nationally in seven metropolitan townships (Soweto, Tembisa, Mamelodi, Soshanguve/Mabopane, Khayelitsha KwaMashu, Mangaung). We are now extending it to the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, as well as select countries in Africa.

The project addresses the shortage of reliable, detailed information on township markets. Unemployed township residents are trained as fieldworkers, gathering data for surveys designed to investigate lifestyle in townships. This way, Infusion fieldworkers provide township knowledge to businesses in exchange for sustainable income. Companies use this information to make better business decisions in the townships, ultimately creating a stronger economy and more opportunities for all.

Through this channel, we speak to over 50 000 people in various communities over a period of 12 months (approximately 5 000 people every month) about lifestyle trends in their environments.

The research approach and methodology used for this project are not intended to replace traditional research models. They encourage marketers and researchers to re-examine marketing research in a broader societal context and not simply accept the lack of holistic information available in this market.

Why did we decide to do lifestyle research?
Research often explores single topics in a fragmented way without the ability to create a broader understanding of the social dynamics. To counter this narrow view, we offer opinions and insights on monthly themes that do not simply try to answer an isolated business problem but offer an intimate understanding of the people in this market. Better understanding of how people feel about and manage: their money, their general shopping behaviour, their choices when buying items for their homes and lives, their media use, their views on circles of influence, their technology use, the influence of cultures and traditions, their views of happiness and health together with their feelings around safety and our country. This approach offers perspectives that were not available to the business community before.

Seeing the human being and not only the customer helps create more sustainable markets through more insightful product designs, appropriate service levels, socially conscious marketing campaigns and more informed strategy.

Information collected through this channel can be used to direct localised and regionalised marketing activation campaigns. Often, an assumption is made that all townships are the same and that marketers can use the same tactics to engage different communities. However, our research shows that these are real people with real differences, and these differences cannot be ignored when formulating localised marketing activation campaigns.

Infusion Lifestyle Research has been tested for the past two years and has focused mainly on African townships. Further development and refinement will see us extending into other communities experiencing the problems of underdevelopment, such as coloured communities in the Eastern Cape.

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Some insights from the Infusion Lifestyle Research Project
More townships should look at branding themselves to attract appropriate investment

  • Of all the townships covered in this study, Soweto – renowned for its political history and influence in shaping developments in the country – has attracted the most investment in commercial, retail and community development
    • Several shopping malls have opened in recent years
    • Parks and recreational facilities have been upgraded
    • New developments have contributed significantly to improving convenience and overall quality of life in Soweto
  • Mamelodi is slowly attracting investment and has carved its niche primarily as a ‘jazz capital’
  • Tembisa offers a highly lucrative market that is often overshadowed by the better-known Soweto and Mamelodi

Without a unique story that is celebrated consistently, other townships fade into the background.

The study raises questions about the appropriate pace of investment

  • Although, from a commercial perspective, retail developments have given Sowetans endless options, there are concerns about whether all the retailers that have invested in Soweto will succeed, given the rate at which retail and entertainment facilities have mushroomed.
  • This in turn raises questions about whether all these offerings may suffocate rather than enhance the booming market in Soweto.
  • The major concern is that if some retailers don’t succeed because of the investment approach taken in Soweto, it may create the belief that “If it didn’t work in Soweto, it won’t work anywhere else”, thus denying other townships investment opportunities.
  • A range of independent studies has shown that many retailers, however, fail because of often-unfounded assumptions about township markets, their belief that these markets are completely aspirational and that they react similarly to those operating in the first economy.

Uneven development in the various townships means that business cannot use the same approach when engaging with different townships

  • Township residents who feel they can get by on their salaries are in Tembisa (34%) and Soweto (29%).
  • Those who feel most strongly that they cannot meet their basic needs are in Khayelitsha (66%), KwaMashu (65%) and Soshanguve (59%).
    • There is a general state of ‘despair’ in Khayelitsha
    • People in Khayelitsha are most likely to say the money they earn is not enough to cover basic needs
    • Khayelitsha has the highest number of households that earn R2 5001 and below
    • People in Khayelitsha are most likely to use store credit and informal credit options (eg stokvels (informal private savings societies), microlenders, mashonisa (informal money lender) as opposed to formal credit options such as a credit card, bank loan
    • As example, people in Khayelitsha have the highest amount of store credit (76%) compared to only 26% in Soshanguve
    • People in Khayelitsha are most likely to have a loan from mashonisa (17%), against only 1% of people in Soshanguve
    • Although Soshanguve has the highest incidence of households earning R1 400 and below, there does not seem to be the same extent of ‘despair’ as in Khayelitsha.

(Source: My Talk 2007)

OBSERVATION: In contrast to the assumption that all townships are the same and that marketers can use the same tactics to engage different communities, our research shows that different geographical areas reflect different behavioural patterns, attitudes, perceptions and values, and that these differences cannot be ignored when formulating localised marketing activation campaigns.

There are differences in the choice of savings, investment and insurance products in the various townships

  • KwaMashu has the highest incidence (55%) of short-term insurance, with Mamelodi (10%), Soweto (12%) and Tembisa (12%) among the lowest
  • Pension and provident fund membership is lowest in Khayelitsha (18%) and highest in Mangaung (80%)
  • Unit trust use is highest in Khayelitsha (54%) and Mangaung (52%) and lowest in Mamelodi (8%).

The ‘items’ that have cost the most money in the last 12 months

  • School or education fees – 42%
  • Debt repayments – 42% (which has become significantly more prevalent in the last year)
  • Acquiring assets – 41%

Stokvels are not popular in all townships
For years, marketers have sought to capitalise on the strength of the networks created by stokvels. The reality is that stokvels are not equally popular in all townships

  • Participation in stokvels is high in
    • Khayelitsha 56%
    • KwaMashu 48%
    • Soweto 35%
    • Tembisa 23%
  • Participation in stokvels is lowest in
    • Soshanguve 14%
    • Mamelodi 16%
    • Mangaung 22%

(Source: My Money 2007)

People who are unemployed or earn low incomes have a tendency to feel helpless or frustrated by advertisements

  • When asked how they feel about ads, people who are unemployed, earn R1 400 or less, or stay in Khayelitsha were most likely to say they felt helpless and frustrated by ads.
  • Those who feel positive about ads are those who are able to respond to the temptations
    • An income of R2 500 appears to give people a passport to feeling happy about ads
    • At R10 000/month, people feel happier with ads.

(Source: My Talk 2007)
1 All reported incomes reflect monthly household income

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Infusion tactical research
We also conduct tactical research to respond to specific business and information requirements that companies may have. Research conducted in this unit extends to diverse economic and social groups.

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Internal culture-based surveys
We conduct corporate citizenship surveys that provide businesses with information to develop appropriate initiatives as responsible corporate citizens. The culture of the organisation lies at the heart of everything that is and is not part of that organisation.

Through our methodology we ensure a holistic approach when analysing and evaluating the complex issues around culture that influence the implementation of strategy and transformation processes. This helps to avoid ‘fire fighting’ approaches where symptoms are handled but causes not.

Through the research we identify and then facilitate a greater understanding of the barriers prevalent in the organisation that prohibits successful implementation of corporate strategy. Thereafter we work on triggers that will assist the organisation in the uptake of strategy. These triggers need to suit the management style, culture and general environment of the company at play.

The basic question is: How can the management team of your organisation ensure that their investments in their employees (whether it be money, time, effort, training, etc.) lead to an improved bottom line due to better uptake of strategy, an enhanced climate of wellness, and a better company with an even brighter future for ALL the people involved?

This methodology has been successfully applied in:

  • Corporate citizenship surveys
  • Wellness surveys
  • OHS surveys
  • Safety impact surveys

Clients on these surveys include:

  • BHP Billiton
  • Lonmin
  • British American Tobacco
  • Kumba Resources

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Infusion statistical services
This unit is still in its infancy, but its purpose is to provide high-level statistical analysis consulting services to the business and academic worlds. It also provides strong support to other research units in the Infusion stable.

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Infusion Executive Training
We have provided training to several companies reviewing their marketing strategies. Our training is aimed at helping these companies determine their readiness to tackle new markets. Our training programs include topics on strategic marketing, product and services marketing, service quality and relationship orientation and harnessing value networks.

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Business networking
Infusion’s business networking service brings together companies with synergistic goals, particularly relating to the challenges of underdevelopment in various communities.

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