Market Assessment

Using Non-conventional Research Methods to Understand BDS in Weak Markets, TTO South Africa, Tladi & Isaacs, 2004

    In 2002 The Triple Trust Organisation (TTO), a market development facilitator working with informal sector enterprises embarked on a research project into the Spaza shop market in the greater Cape Town area. The purpose of the research was to gain an understanding of the market constraints faced by Spaza shops - small, informal convenience stores located mainly in disadvantaged communities in people's houses or backyards - with a view to developing appropriate and specific BDS interventions.

    Cape Town's Spaza market is huge, with sales estimated at $110M, or about 13% of the entire retail industry. TTO, suspecting that the market suffered from inefficiencies that reduced benefits to both owners and customers, conducted research to better understand how BDS worked in a weak market. Rather than conducting a conventional BDS market assessment using UAI and sub-sector analysis, TTO chose to first understand the Spaza market and the constraints facing it as a means to uncovering hidden BDS and engaged a private research firm to conduct a market survey.

    When TTO started the project it knew very little of the Spaza shop market. Had it embarked on a conventional BDS market assessment without a broader understanding of the issues at play in the market, it would have missed valuable information that proved helpful in designing interventions specific to the market. In addition, initial observations confirmed that a UAI would not have provided the desired information since Spaza shop owners knew nothing of BDS or of any organisations providing such services.

    The paper presents the methods and lessons learned from using this non-conventional approach to BDS market assessment.

    Summary of results
    Lessons learned:

    - Use business models to design BDS interventions and facilitate the bundling of BDS to ensure viable and suitable BDS provision;
    - Understand business-to-business relations in BDS markets and the role they play in BDS delivery;
    - Ensure that all key issues are covered in the initial market survey; and
    - Incorporate the realities of a weak market in the design and conduct of the research.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    Market Assessment
    »Assessing the Spaza Shop Market in South Africa - Triple Trust Organization 2003
    Programme Design
    »TTO in the Retail Sector, South Africa, 2005