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New black middle class

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For the last decade, the UCT Marketing Institute has been at the forefront of research into South Africa’s new black middle class. In 2006 the Institute launched its seminal Black Diamond study, which predicted that Black Middle-Class spending power would skyrocket.

Since then the segment has been vastly transformed and has a combined spending power of R400 billion a year. This new order has demanded new strategic thinking from businesses and manufacturers – from how they create and sell products, to the way they distribute and market them.

Although more than a decade of middle class research has resulted in a rich knowledge in this segment, the rate of change in the middle class requires a constant finger on the pulse.

The name Black Diamond has been dropped for many years now as it was deemed to be a poor term to use in this context. The research on the middle class has, however, continued year-on-year and the following two reports are available from the Institute:

 5 Million and Rising

  • An updated version of ‘4 million and rising’ (2013)
  • A numerical overview of black middle-class growth 
  • A segmentation model to understand the heterogeneity of the black middle class.
  • Attitudes and buying behaviour
  • Key drivers of decision-making and psycho-social tensions
  • Financial management
  • Media consumption

The South African Middle Class

  • The report includes a description of how the middle class is evolving
  • An overview of how the middle class is segmented and how it is contextualised in the overall consumer landscape.
  • Key behavioural drivers and a comparison between emerging and established middle class families.

Both research presentations illustrate how the emerging black middle class continues to grow, and how it is by no means a homogenous grouping. Even at the family level, one finds an older generation who are newly ‘middle class’ different from those children who have been born into a relatively affluent lifestyle. The Institute’s research has shown noticeable differences between middle-class consumers depending on the length of time they’ve experienced an affluent lifestyle. Aspiration also depends on how ‘settled’ people feel within the middle class and as society changes, how the middle class has adapted (particularly to the low-growth economy).

As better understand and interpret the middle-class changes, they will more readily be able to meet consumer needs. 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 textbooks and draws from much of South Africa’s best academic and empirical work on the subject.

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

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