Our research

SA's Mass market


70% of the South African consumer market lives in households that collectively earn less than R6 000 per month. Since 2012, the Marketing Institute has been researching the many nuances and misconceptions around low-income consumer behaviour. The Majority Reports have been presented in various forums around the country and have become one of the most cited business reports describing the mass market. Marketers who wish to succeed in this attractive market may have to rethink their strategies dramatically after hearing the majority report. The reports show how, among other highlights, that most low-income households now have access to electricity and piped water. Furthermore, millions of South Africans have benefited from the roll-out of RDP houses and social grants. Government support has not only created more stability, but also influences consumption patterns

Both Majority Reports were conducted using extensive primary research tools including surveys, interviews, focus groups, expert inquiry, video ethnography, database analysis and financial diary panels. The breadth and depth of the research allowed for rich insights and a thorough underpinning of consumer behaviour. Below is a brief overview of the reports:

The Majority Report I (TMR1)

  • Initially conducted in 2012, TMR1 shattered longstanding misconceptions about the 21 million South African adults living in low-income households.
  • The report is a comprehensive cross-disciplinary study which takes an in depth look at the drivers that influence the majority market, showing that marketers are generally failing to connect with this vitally important segment.
  • illustrating how many marketers continue to employ out-dated strategies
  • demonstrating that this market presents vast potential for marketers who are willing to rethink their marketing strategies
  • explaining how households manage to survive despite huge income constraints
  • bringing you up-to-speed with the complex dynamics that are shaping this market
  • shedding light on the socio-economic forces that make these consumers so different to their counterparts in the developing world
  • providing fresh insight into the daily lives and consumption patterns of this segment
  • addressing waning brand loyalty and suggesting ways of turning it around
  • introducing new approaches to improving brand penetration and regaining brand ownership
  • offering valuable guidelines on how best to connect with this segment.

The Majority Report II (TMR2)

  • After the success of TMR1, the Institute team went on to explore the subject of low-income consumer behaviour with a specific emphasis on “connection” as many marketers had continued to express trouble with bridging the understanding gap.
  • TMR2 found a clear lack of connection between many brands and the mass market
  • Building on the data from TMR1, the research found a staggering 80% of South African children living in low-income homes. The market is growing and undergoing change at many levels, often at the expense of traditional marketers and their brands.
  • Added to this much of the activity is unrecorded. Without a thorough understanding of all of this, it is extremely difficult for marketers to grow sales and thereby market share
  • This research also sought to better understand the touch points that marketers can develop in order to connect emotionally and along the route to market.
  • Field researchers in five locations around the country spent a five-month period getting to grips with issues such as, consumption patterns, sources of income, informal and formal traders and decision-making dynamics in households.

The UCT Marketing Institute is able to present each individual report or a combination of both depending on your needs. The research has also been published in journals and textbooks as a means to build a stronger more relevant business curriculum.  

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