A new report compiled by trend analysis company Flux Trends founder Dion Chang suggests that several different groups are forming among South Africa’s urban consumer society, breaking the mould of how businesses use traditional demographic segmentation models to connect with South Africa’s new tribes.
Chang notes that the correct method of reaching these groups is key to increasing overall communication, as well as understanding their differences.
The report, entitled ‘New Urban Tribes of South Africa’, analyses the behaviour of contemporary urban South Africans in an effort to better understand the country’s diverse cultures.
“South Africa has numerous different urban tribes and this report attempts to identify these groupings,” Chang tells Polity.
He says it is important for business, as well as government, to understand the different tribes to address their needs and demands more effectively, pointing out that government needs to act as a brand does when tackling issues that concern society.
“Interestingly, the advertising industry has taken note of the importance of different urban tribes. It is evident that companies no longer speak to a single community when pitching their brands to consumers. In fact, multiple campaigns are implemented by corporations to ensure that they reach a widespread audience.
“South Africa is a country with such diverse groupings, dating back centuries, and it would be unfortunate for government to ignore the changes happening currently within society. How do you address society [appropriately] when the language you speak is not the language they speak?” he asks.
Chang says the report identifies twelve clearly discernible tribes, which include the lost-generation tribe, the domestic personal assistant tribe and the single-parent, double-life tribe, among others.
The report reveals that out of all the tribes, the most consistently mentioned during the research phase was the lost-generation tribe. This tribe consists mainly of uneducated and unemployed South Africans.
Chang says the lost generation is split into two categories: the lost elders, citizens who took part in the political struggle and believe that success is entitled to them as a result of liberation, and the lost millennials, who are raised by the lost elders.
Further, he notes that the lost-generation tribe finds itself in a precarious situation, where South Africa’s education system has plummeted to significantly low standards. “This urban tribe is extremely angry and dangerous, and are exposed to thoughts of engaging in criminal activities. They are a ticking time bomb,” Chang warns.
Meanwhile, the domestic personal assistant tribe consists mainly of educated women from neighbouring Zimbabwe who are willing to work in exchange for a low income, as opposed to South Africa’s high-wage, poorly educated domestic workers. “These individuals are mostly Zimbabwean citizens who are fairly well educated and can manage their employer’s house, from ordering groceries online to fetching their employer’s children at school,” says Chang.
The single-parent, double-life tribe is concerning, states Chang, adding that young single mothers who leave their children with family members so that they can live a better life, is revealed in alarming statistics, which show that three-million school girls are currently receiving government grants to assist in raising their children.
“This report does not only serve as an indication of the new tribes that are beginning to take shape in our country, but also as a barometer of where South Africa’s society is at the moment, as well as the challenges it faces into the future,” says Chang.