Standards and Labelling Programme implements successful brand activation campaign

The Standards and Labelling Programme implemented a successful in-store brand activation campaign to raise awareness regarding the energy efficiency label. For the campaign Captain Energy, the programme mascot, and his entourage of efficiency-promoting festive cohorts were present in person and in vibrant, exuberant living colour at Makro stores around the country over a
series of special Saturdays.

“It’s been so exciting to meet and educate shoppers in so many different cities”, said Lerato Matoko of The Communications Firm who coordinated the national in-store activation campaign. “Many have vaguely heard of energy efficiency, but few really know what it means; and I just love seeing the ‘lights go on’ in people’s eyes as they become transformed”, she beamed. “The thrill of customers
getting their vouchers, in total disbelief that there is no catch, was wonderful to watch!” laughs Matoko. “It was a classic win-win situation for everyone!” The Makro shopping voucher Matoko refers to, had the value of R800 and was given to all purchasers of appliances on which energy efficiency labelling was mandatory, as part of the activation that day. The only proviso was that the specific efficiency grade of the purchase was no more than two down from the highest optimum efficiency standard available for that appliance type. “Energy efficient appliances no longer cost more”, points out Marcia Lephera, UNDP Project coordinator. “But where they do, we have negated the higher price via the voucher and encouraged consumers to make appliances’ energy efficiency their primary purchase decision. And the individual Makro stores gained too, with the pre-sale of vouchers to the project”, she continued. “The positive ‘vibe’ that the activation team created was just great for everyone,” Lephera concluded.


With all the fun-filled fanfare of a mardis gras moment, Makro stores across six provinces experienced the positive energy of a full Saturday’s efficiency-awareness extravaganza, as Captain Energy and a lively crew of promoters descended in full force! At the store entrance, an eye-catching gazebo and matching banners as a key focal point, with Captain Energy and an amiable, quick-witted master of ceremonies eagerly engaging with passers-by, as a hit music DJ played up-tempo vibrant songs. Here, vivacious dancers with labelling branding on their costumes crafted coordinated dance moves with both Captain Energy and the MC, while warmly interacting with shoppers, alerting them to that day’s energy efficiency voucher special and distributing an array of other branded gifts and communication material, from informational flyers and leaflets, to T-shirts, caps. Fridge magnets and draw-string bags. Within the store, at the appliance section where the final buying decisions are made, was a combination of strongly branded appliance labelling communications material and on-hand project team members with a more detailed understanding of the appliance labels and the energy calculator app, interacting with prospective customers in tandem with Makro personnel, to positively influence those decisions. Here the vouchers were a significant boon, because they bolstered facts about the long-term savings from efficient appliances, with the immediate benefit of an R800 Makro voucher for buying one. And buy they did! The pilot retail activation took place at Makro Woodmead in Johannesburg, where vouchers were valued at R600 – of which 38 were given away to buyers of sufficiently efficient appliances on promotion. Immediate consumer response to the Woodmead initiative was most encouraging; and based on its results it was decided to raise the voucher value to R800 and extend the activation ambit outside of Gauteng into large cities of other provinces, as the “Provincial Energy Saving Activations Campaign”. In the weeks that ensued, 38 vouchers were given away in Durban, 33 in Cape Town, 28 in Polokwane, 23 in Nelspruit, and 10 in Bloemfontein.

“I can now actually fill the fridge I’ve bought with this voucher”, laughed one beneficiary. “I didn’t even know about the promotion and had decided on that model anyway; so this is my thanks from the universe for doing my bit for energy efficiency. What a great surprise!” Indeed, the availability of the voucher for a suitably efficient purchase, came as a delightful surprise to many! Some saw it as a kind of cosmic recognition of a good decision they’d made prior to coming to the store. Others were strongly swayed by the voucher to make an energy efficient purchase. A few had not even been shopping for appliances at all, until learning of the promotion. “It’s now or never”, laughed one. “The voucher’s a big score for me. But I had no idea this efficient labelling was even a thing.” In fact, very few voucher recipients knew it was ‘a thing’ either, till then, albeit that they became both believers and messengers afterwards. “I’ll spread the word”, smirked a skate-board teen, as he donned his new Captain Energy cap, slipped the flyer and leaflets into his back-pack and went to help his mother push her new hob set, with extractor, to the car. “It’s brilliant to invest in something that will save money. This year there will be a lot more Christmas cake to make”, she’d smiled. Another delighted recipient was ecstatic that he’d been able to buy the quality of washing machine he couldn’t have afforded without the voucher. “800 bucks goes a long way when you’re getting going in your own place for the first time”, he said. “You guys have helped me start off energy efficient and that’s supercool by the government.” His sentiments were not unique. Several voucher recipients expressed gratitude and excitement at being able to actually make the ‘right choice’ – with the voucher as motivator and enabler. And for all, their new awareness around appliance energy efficiency was a lesson they were both glad to learn and keen to share. “This has been such an eye-opener”, said a newly-wed “This app’s awesome! We only bought a small fridge-freezer for now, but it’s so good to know for when our townhouse complex is completed and we can move in. Then there’s a duplex to slowly stock up.” Most heartening about the campaign was how it spanned the entire spectrum of South African demographics, be it those beginning their lives, or those refurbishing their sunset years, and everyone in between. “Penny wise, pound foolish”, said a pensioner purchasing her first ever dishwasher. “I’m getting too old to hunch over a kitchen sink and I’m glad I didn’t have to skimp on what I bought, with the voucher’s help. Every cent saved on electricity is money I can use to spoil my grandkids.”