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South African Consumer Markets Faced with Uncertainty In Spite of Recent Reprieve from Credit Downgrade

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With much relief, South Africa sighs as Standard & Poor’s maintains its sovereign credit rating of the country’s foreign-currency debt at BBB-. This however does not take away from the precarious position that the country faces both economically and politically, with a tough road ahead in terms of economic growth and structural reform.

Using the Industry Forecast Model to Assess Risk

Euromonitor International’s Industry Forecast Model integrates intuitive, judgment-based forecasting with the quantitative techniques of an econometric Industry Demand Model. It also incorporates Euromonitor International’s Macro Model to show how regularly updated macroeconomic expectations and hypothetical macro scenarios impact retail forecasts for specific countries and product categories.

Given South Africa’s volatile economic climate, the Industry Forecast Model can help assess market uncertainty by investigating the potential impact of optimistic and pessimistic macroeconomic forecast scenarios on retail sales for specific product categories. This in turn indicates the range within which a specific product category forecast may plausibly move as a function of macroeconomic risk.

This analysis will review the potential volatility of Packaged Food and Beauty and Personal Care market categories in South Africa, and assess by how much each can potentially swing up or down as underlying demand driver forecasts change.

Investigating Market Uncertainty of the South African Packaged Food Industry


The above graph indicates optimistic and pessimistic forecast growth scenarios for various Packaged Food categories in South Africa given the latest optimistic and pessimistic forecasts for key macroeconomic indicators the likes of real GDP growth. The relative impact of these optimistic and pessimistic macro forecasts on each category’s retail sales growth can be estimated via their respective income elasticities of demand. The distance between the pessimistic and optimistic forecast curves in any given year represents the expected market uncertainty/volatility for that year.

Based on the above graph, we can see that Ready Meals and Baby Food are the most income-sensitive - and thus uncertain - markets, in terms of a probable positive/negative swing in retail value CAGR over the forecast period. This highlights a need for caution when it comes these categories, especially if the South African economy takes a turn for the worse. Meanwhile, Rice, Pasta and Noodles are likely to witness the least market uncertainty/volatility moving forward, thanks largely to their staple status.

Investigating Market Uncertainty of the South African Beauty and Personal Care Industry


In terms of the South African Beauty and Personal Care market, Fragrances, Depilatories and Men’s Grooming are the most uncertain markets over the forecast period. Meanwhile, personal hygiene staples such as Oral Care, Bath and Shower and Hair Care have the most stable outlook.

The Impact on Consumers

In terms of Ready Meals and Baby Food, the relative sensitivity to fluctuations in income is indicative of their high income elasticities. Products found within both categories tend to be highly substitutable and hence, if consumers are faced with income volatility, particularly a reduction in income, they tend to be more likely to substitute ready meals for other packaged food alternatives. In terms of baby food, consumers are more likely to substitute baby food with adult food alternatives and/or demand more value for money offerings, the likes of larger pack sized baby food products.

When it comes to the South Africa Beauty and Personal Care market, it is no surprise that personal hygiene staple categories are less income elastic relative to other categories and are thus less sensitive to changes in income. Men’s grooming on the other hand, is amongst the more income elastic categories and thus more vulnerable to income volatility. When faced with downward shifts in income, consumers tend to trade down to cheaper mass products and/or turn to multifunctional products that provide greater overall value for money.

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