Savings Month: Sanlam makes it as easy to save as it is to spend

This National Savings Month, Sanlam is tackling the issue of low savings rates in South Africa by launching a limited edition fashion accessory with a difference. The Mna Nam, designed in collaboration with one of South Africa’s top fashion designers Laduma Ngxokolo, is in fact wearable tech or ‘functional fashion’ with an embedded QR code which allows an instant ‘scan and save’ action. The aim is to make it as easy to save money as it is to spend it.

Sanlam has had widespread success from its past National Savings Month (July) social experiments – One Rand Man, One Rand Family and Conspicuous Savers – and this year’s Mna Nam campaign is a first-of-its-kind in the world.

For Yegs Ramiah, CEO Sanlam Brand, it was imperative the focus was on catalysing South Africans to shift their financial behaviour. “Unfortunately talking about finances and savings can be a low interest area for a lot of people. So we knew we needed to include a compelling aspect to our Savings Month initiative this year in order to hook people’s attention. Fashion is an aspirational and high interest area, so by making our savings ‘tool’ beautiful and by teaming up with high profile people, we are hoping to grab people’s attention in a novel way.”

The low levels of savings in South Africa are showing no signs of improving – the average household savings ratio has declined to -0.8%. Trurman Zuma, CEO Sanlam Recurring Savings, believes that the rising cost of living, desire for instant gratification and social media have all contributed to distracting people from saving successfully. “For many people, self-worth is externalised to social media and material possessions indicate a certain level of success. This is a perception we need to change. Mna Nam uses influential and high profile South African personalities to talk about the importance of fiscal vigilance and the need to save. It ‘kidnaps’ the fashion space, and makes it a place for frugality rather than excess.”

Historically, a significant percentage of the population was denied access to credit. “Now, everyone has access to credit, but it can come at a high price. Saving needs to become a financial priority. People need to focus on goals that are realistic for them. Saving is not just for the rich – it’s possible for everyone.”

The Mna Nam by Laduma marries technology with fashion, with an embedded QR code linked to a WeChat Savings Wallet powered by Standard Bank. This removes barriers to saving, through simple ‘scan to save’ capability. It also serves as a visual reminder to save – when you reach for the morning coffee and see the accessory adorning your wrist, hopefully you’ll think twice and consider saving instead.

Ramiah says, “Mna Nam gives people the power to choose if and when they want to save. This is vital from a behavioural economics perspective – the easier an action is, the more likely people are to perform it. Technology talks to people on their terms and gives access to the majority. If you can see your contributions are enabling a greater goal, you’re more likely to keep saving.”

She concludes, “Sanlam is proudly African and we are deeply ingrained in the society of this country. We believe we have the legacy, competence and emerging market understanding to contribute towards improving South Africa’s poor savings culture. It’s important for us that the Mna Nam campaign goes beyond Savings Month and kick-starts a crucial conversation that’ll have long-term positive implications for peoples’ saving behaviour.”

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