The iconic Cape Town fringe district has been the focus of a handful of urban renewal initiatives. The outlying zone, which lies to the east of Cape Town’s CBD and nestled in the heart of District Six, has been associated as a discarded and forgotten neighbourhood. The streets aren’t safe, as the public is generally harassed. This has created a “no man’s land” in certain roads where poverty and hardship is rife.
However, there is ambition in the midst of this stagnant zone. The Cape Town fringe district is also home to some of the city’s most popular businesses. Charlies Bakery and The Fugard Theatre come to mind. These attractions open their doors to markets of culture enthusiasts and the greater sweet tooths of Cape Town.
The area is also home to a national landmark; the District Six Museum. There have been “on and off” attempts to restructure and uplift the Cape Town fringe district. The Cape Town fringe district was even a focal point of many of the Cape Town World Design Capital’s urban growth projects and branded as the city’s “innovation district”. That being said, the neighbourhood needs the expertise of brand communications and marketing tactics to strengthen the force of a renewal.
Cape Town Fringe - Marketing Potential
There is an untapped potential for marketing strategies in the Cape Town fringe district. The influx of coffee shops, cafés, books shops that have recently opened need to expand their presence. Marketing firms, as well as Cape Town based agencies, could use the Cape Town fringe district as hub to offer their services. Online presence is all too important for businesses to position themselves above the competition’s value proposition. Social media presence in the Cape Town fringe district is either lacking in desperate need of rejuvenation. On the offline and tangible front, this is where branding agencies can find their niche in the picture.
The Cape Town fringe has been classed as a “design thinking” hub. The Cape Craft and Design Institute, Cape Fashion Council have made their home in the district. In addition, the area borders CPUT. There is a large room for creating a shared creative or design community. This would encourage companies and institutions to work together, collaborate, share ideas. This has been attempted before, but a consistent and sustainable marketing strategy is needed.
The Cape Town fringe is also home to The Assembly. The nightclub is considered to be the city’s premier music hall. There is space to market local talent, whether it be design or music. With an appropriately suited marketing methodology, the entire district can collaborate together.
Cape Town Fringe - Business Opportunities
In any given market climate, and with the right positioning, the restaurant industry can always thrive. There is a lack of culturally diverse eateries - only one prominent diner exists. Franchise brands can make their mark in the Cape Town fringe district. However, fast food brands might detract from the perceived cultural synergy.
Parking is huge problem in Cape Town; as is the case in other South African metropolitan cities. This leaves a gap for development companies to survey a potential parking complex on site. There has already been a substantial increase in the Capetonian craft market. The industry, however, is not area specific - instead these businesses are scattered around the CBD. The Cape Town fringe district serve as the melting pot of artisanal entrepreneurs. This can only be amplified by the presumed “young & trendy” markets that the zone should be targeting.
There is always room for more competition on the design front. The Cape Town fringe district is large enough to accommodate more agencies than it is catering for. There is already a museum attraction in the area. Surprisingly enough, there isn’t a creative museum that showcases the greater community’s craft as a whole.
On the architectural front, there is a need for expertise as historical buildings have been left to crumble. Is there room for residential development? Perhaps. If the Cape Town fringe district attracts enough businesses, more people will want to call it home. There is also a prominent lack of transport to and from the Cape Town fringe district. MyCiTi bus routes only border the zone. This leaves a gap for the busses to include the zone in its route plan. A low expense taxi company could fill this gap.
Cape Town Fringe - CSI
There’s no denying that brands need a sustainable corporate social investment. The strategy needs to be consistent, wholesome and adequate to ensure a difference is made.
There is one ongoing problem in the area; the poverty. Brands could make a stand to alleviate this issue by facilitating creative workshops. By giving people opportunities, big names can be associated with helping to uplift the social fabric of the Cape Town fringe district.
There are a handful of genuinely caring actions that brands can incorporate into this charitable and important aspect of their culture. Ensuring that streets are clean will make a big impact for local and international tourism, for example.
Cape Town Fringe - The way forward…
The Cape Town fringe district is a goldmine for potential investment. The zone is also an open playground for collaborative creative execution. The eastern precinct is probably one of the last neighbourhoods in the city that can welcome open design and business. It is therefore imperative that brands, agencies and marketing firms step in and claim their territory.
With enough allied commerce, the Cape Town fringe district can be proud to call itself the new “cultural & creative hub” of Cape Town and maybe even South Africa.