Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
  • South African entrepreneurs on the hunt for the next big thing should be looking out for unusual products.
  • This is the advice of one of South Africa's top entrepreneurs, who has invested in a number of top new businesses.
  • He believes more unusual online businesses will emerge and 'middlemen' businesses like real estate are set for a shake up. 

South African entrepreneurs on the hunt for the next big thing should be looking out for unusual products. This is according to Silvertree Internet Holdings Co-founder and MD, Manuel Koser.

Koser has a proven track record of bankrolling niche market businesses South Africans didn’t know they needed, having invested in South African brands,, and

He says SA consumers will increasingly embrace ethical and healthier products.  

These are the business opportunities he thinks could grow exponentially over the coming decade:

1. Indigenous personal care

African personal care products with ingredients that make use of indigenous resources offer attractive opportunities, Koser predicts.

“There is a lot of room to play in the African haircare market particularly, as it’s often overlooked by the major FMCG companies.”

2. Natural home care products

Innovative, natural home cleaners could become the next big thing as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious.

“Until now, it was all about the well-known cleaning products the major chemical manufacturers put on the shelves. Now, there’s increasing space for new, exciting entrants," says Koser.

3. New beverages

South Africans are becoming more health conscious about what they drink and are experimenting with alternatives to the SA staple - the fizzy colddrink. Koser believes a gap in the market will emerge as the major beverage retailers struggle to adjust to SA's evolving palette.  

“They’re often just not quick enough to adjust to changing consumer tastes – particularly the tastes of millennials. Think less about a standard fizzy drink, but rather one that’s kind to the body, with natural ingredients. Non-alcoholic: water plus, say, cucumber, or another indigenous ingredient. The market for this will grow.

4. Ethical snacking on the go

Plant-based, vegan, ancient grains, ethical, protein-rich snacks – these are just some of the trends Koser sees dominating in the snack segment in 2019 and beyond. It’s about unique, tasty, functional foods that cater to the modern, time-starved consumer, Koser explains.

5. E-commerce will grow and more 'unusual' online businesses will emerge

In the technology space: marketplaces; e-commerce sites; and classifieds will all gain momentum.

We'll be seeing more aggregation sites that share links to content, as well as more unusual online businesses, which are increasingly able to find and reach consumers interested in niche products and services.

 “Consider an online ice-cream business. Once, something like that would have been unthinkable. But, as consumers demand greater choice, room for niche products like this grows,” said Koser.

 The make-or-break factor is to provide seamless execution and delivery. Entrepreneurs now need to look at providing the same, if not better, quality service as Google, Amazon, Uber and Spotify.

 “[South African]consumers have come to expect that level of service across the board.  Aligned to this is the fact that the millennial wave is currently hitting Cape Town right now, and Joburg secondarily, meaning a number of opportunities are opening up. Go after products and services in the right space and consumers will follow.”

6. Tech will disrupt traditional middlemen businesses, like real estate, and monopoly businesses that can't adjust fast enough

Koser says entrepreneurs should keep an eye out for any monopolistic or oligopolistic structures where the service is often terrible because the heavyweights hold so much power.

 “This means that very few people like them, or the services they provide are of a very poor quality,” said Koser. “Think of postal service providers or telecoms companies.”

Traditionally opaque businesses, like real estate, which once needed a middleman to help you transact are becoming less so, because technology is making it easier to match buyers to sellers.

Read: FNB clients can now sell their homes to each other – and save thousands in commission

“Once, many markets – such as real estate were opaque, meaning you needed a middleman to help you transact. However, as the capabilities of technology have grown, markets have become far more transparent – making it easier for buyers to match with sellers safely.”

 “Today, a lot of this is easy to automate services – think about connecting a homeowner to a prospective renter through a digital solution where renters can be qualified, for example, in terms of their finances, personal information and criminal records. Quick and simple. And no middleman.”

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