Our research


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For this unique study, the question that the Institute posed was: ‘How has the changing consumer landscape impacted consumer needs, wants & desires?’. The research spanned 18 months and included over 900 interviews across all socio-economic bands. The questions explored what South African’s aspire to and how they are taking steps towards achieving their aspirations.

A national quantitative survey was also conducted as well as a unique interrogation of the National Income Dynamics Survey database. Focus groups were also conducted to specifically explore credit and debt in middle to low income households. Both experts and consumers were interviewed on camera to provide a rich exploration into a key topic for those wishing to understand consumer needs. 

From the study, we found that at the heart of consumer decision-making are the needs, wants and desires that come from a complex range of material and non-material motivations. As society changes, so do consumers’ aspirations, and it is up to us as marketers to understand and interpret these changes. A comprehensive study by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing has made it clear that the South African consumer landscape has changed dramatically over recent years.

The Aspiration Report explores the following major themes:

  • The South African aspiration landscape and why there is a crisis of aspiration
  • A model to understand the question: “what do people want”
  • A set of 8 aspirations that came through strongly in the primary research
  • How South Africans aim to achieve their aspirations
  • The role of debt as a means to fund aspiration in South Africa
  • Marketing advice for connecting with South Africa’s aspiration profile

This report from the UCT Marketing Institute has been cited in multiple press and media sources and the research team was interviewed about the findings on both TV and radio. The findings are currently also being synthesized into journal articles for international publication.

To access the report, please contact Kulsoem Roode on kulsoem.roode@uct.ac.za or 021 650 4312.