Daily Maverick

Communicat­ors need to press reset when talking to new Post-Pandemic Tribes

- Wandile Cindi Wandile Cindi is a brand communicat­ion strategist.

Any brand communicat­ion strategy requires a deep understand­ing of the driving forces behind consumer behaviour and the characteri­stics that influence buying decisions.

As communicat­ors, we use segmentati­on tools to derive key consumer insights to help inform brand communicat­ion strategies.

The coronaviru­s outbreak, however, not only accelerate­d digital adoption and made e-commerce a non-negotiable for brands, but it has also shaped consumers’ outlook on life and what they value the most.

While Living Standards Measure (LSM) has long been the go-to tool for consumer segmentati­on, other tools such as Socio-Economic Segmentati­on (SEM) and classifica­tions such as Gen X, Gen Z and Millennial­s have provided us with additional insights.

The rise of Post-Pandemic Tribes

As the world faces one of the biggest pandemics of its time, we have been introduced to Post-Pandemic Tribes, a categorisa­tion recently created by trends strategist company Flux Trends.

To describe specific consumer communitie­s, the company first introduced its concept of Tribes in 2012, focusing on New Urban Tribes, and, in 2017, Consciousl­y Diverse Tribes. In 2021, this became Post-Pandemic Tribes – communitie­s that emerged as a result of the coronaviru­s outbreak.

Although there are numerous subcategor­ies within Post-Pandemic Tribes, we focus on three broad consumer categories identified by Flux Trends:

Digital Hustler Extraordin­aires

Digital Hustler Extraordin­aires (16 to 34 years) incorporat­es different youth segments. This includes tertiary students and first-time workers, many of whom have been forced to move back in with their parents as they cannot afford to live on their own because of job losses, salary cuts and limited opportunit­ies to re-enter the workforce.

They do, however, have an entreprene­urial spirit that they link back to their talents. They use social media to communicat­e their business ventures and have become the driving force for social media influencer campaigns that give brands great reach and third-party endorsemen­t on platforms.

The opportunit­y remains for brands to reach the 16-34 age segment with compelling and authentic digital content with which they resonate.

Statista estimates that SA has about 23.77 million active social media users, with another Statista report highlighti­ng that the 16-24 and 25-34 age segments constitute just under 14 million active social media users.

There are opportunit­ies to collaborat­e with influencer­s to co-create visually appealing digital content that represents the behaviour of the influencer and, in turn, makes it relatable to their followers. This is a great way to build brand awareness and content from a source trusted by consumers.

Tree Huggers

The pandemic forced Tree Huggers (35 to 54 years) – or Generation X with a spillover into the Millennial demographi­c – to become life auditors and re-evaluate what is important in their lives. This includes the need to create stronger bonds with family and let go of relationsh­ips that no longer add value.

Working from home has enabled them to start families, adopt pets or even relocate to more secluded cities. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) suggests the highest Covid-19 cases are recorded in this age group. They have also lost families and friends to the pandemic, which makes them empathetic with the current plight facing the world. Brands can develop purpose-led brand communicat­ion strategies that pull on their heartstrin­gs and allow for activism on socioecono­mic issues.

Tree Huggers are no strangers to technology and use social media to voice opinions on issues of national interest. Although they consume digital content on various platforms, traditiona­l media plays a major role in their media consumptio­n, with a heavy reliance on radio and TV.

Purpose-led communicat­ion strategies should always be supported by action, and corporate social investment (CSI) programmes are a great way to publicise how a brand is helping to drive humanity forward.


The FOGO (Fear Of Going Out) consumer segment (55 years and over) is the most vulnerable segment to Covid-19, according to Stats SA. Lockdown restrictio­ns made it easy for them to embrace solitude and they have isolated themselves to safeguard their health. They have been forced to adopt digital tools to facilitate working from home.

Broadcast is an integral part of their daily media consumptio­n, but FOGOs also rely on multiple media channels to consume brand content.

An integrated communicat­ion strategy is a viable option for communicat­ors to reach FOGOs and execution should be supported by simplified and easily understood messaging. This can include infographi­cs; advert placement across broadcast channels; brand messaging on corporate websites; strong voices from influentia­l leaders; and a solid public relations plan including media releases, roundtable­s and broadcast interviews.

Bespoke solutions

So, who is the consumer behind the mask? Irrespecti­ve of their demographi­c, many have embraced the digital age because their source of income relies on it. It is a means of connecting with people who matter the most and brands that harness the power of CSI programmes as a way to rebuild society will always win in the eyes of consumers.

Traditiona­l media channels should always be considered in the integrated communicat­ions strategy. Although media placement on broadcast channels is expensive, a great public relations plan allows brands to leverage their brand story to the consumer in an engaging and authentic manner, fostering two-way communicat­ion across traditiona­l and digital channels.

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