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.
Recent research at the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing has made it clear that the South African consumer landscape has changed dramatically over recent years.
On the one hand, the new black middle class continues to grow. It is by no means an homogenous grouping. Even at the family level, one finds an older generation who are newly ‘middle class’ whose children 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 depends on how ‘settled’ people feel within the middle class.
On the other hand, among poorer South Africans, the consumer landscape has also shifted. Most low-income households now have access to electricity and piped water. Furthermore, millions of South Africans have benefitted from the rollout of RDP houses and social grants. Government support has not only created more stability, but also influences consumption patterns – as illustrated by our Majority Reports I and II.
Overall, consumers from all segments have much more choice, thanks to the expansion of retail in the last twenty years. The Internet, cellphones and a proliferation of media options, have created unprecedented access to information.
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.
The question that the Institute wishes to pose is:
How has the changing consumer landscape impacted consumer needs, wants & desires?
Due for release May 2016
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