In a global economic downturn, the classifieds market has become increasingly competitive with major international classifieds brands looking to actively grow market share in South Africa. And yet, homegrown Junk Mail remains ahead of the pack, winning an international innovation award at the International Classifieds Media Awards in Germany last week.
Felix Erken, Junk Mail MD, says classifieds create captive audiences because they attract a willing buyer and a willing seller. The economic downturn has resulted in influx of listing in classifieds as sellers look to increase their cashflow and buyers look for alternatives to purchasing something brand new off the shelf. This in turn has resulted in the growth of classified companies globally and locally.
“Junk Mail has a rich heritage, having been in operations for 21 years and online with our classifieds since the early days of the Internet in South Africa,” Erken says. “And to date, we still publish more listings than our two biggest competitors combined.”
While many companies in the classified sector have been throwing heavy marketing budget to create awareness, Junk Mail’s success has been as a result of building a community of users who know the service works. The brand is strong and credible and the power of the local knowledge is what makes it unique.
“The key to classifieds is facilitating exchanges quickly. If you put something into Junk Mail and it sells quickly, it creates confidence in the process and you’ll probably tell your friends about it too. Similarly, buyers who find something they are looking for at a good price will probably buy again because of the positive experience,” he says.
Safety is also an importantly priority and Junk Mail’s team of dedicated specialist have well established processes to screen adverts for scams to ensure an optimum customer experience locally. “Automation together with local knowledge is what sets us apart in this market” say Erken
Erken says the recently launched Junk Mail X portal on Mxit has also been an important growth area for Junk Mail because it has widened Junk Mail’s listings from the metropolitan areas to include a much larger footprint in South Africa.
“We have an extremely active base on Junk Mail X who use the portal to sell their goods or look for things they want to buy or swap. It’s therefore not only increased our volumes of listings, but our reach geographically as well,” he says.
Africa continues to be important for Junk Mail too, with well established partnerships in Kenya and Nigeria in addition to their South African operations to branch out into the rest of Africa.
“We’re gaining real traction in Africa, especially in Kenya right now with a highly connected society up there, where mobile is fundamental to success,” he says.
These factors, together with Junk Mail’s strong local team and the fact that they don’t serve syndicated content from other classified networks has meant that the Junk Mail brand has maintained its position as the trusted classifieds brand within the local market.