Industry Updates

The connection between economic status and tradition in townships

27 Apr 2015

Ask Afrika’s Kasi Star Brands survey reveals the connection between economic hierarchy and alignment to traditional customs and contemporary life values amongst township consumers.

Just as in suburbs there are geographic socio-economic divides within townships and each of these areas have a certain social milieu, but the individual living within each of these is as varied as in suburbs. There are so many complex factors that determine an individual’s alignment with traditional versus contemporary value systems, but there is a correlation between economic standing and this spectrum.

Kasi Star Brands measure township specific brand usage across 163 categories and is a spinoff of Ask Afrika Icon Brands (coming up in July), which are brands that are used most loyally by consumers across all socio-economic, cultural, racial, and other divides. The Ask Afrika Kasi Star Brand survey focuses on brands and products Kasi-consumers use loyally.  

Socio-economic status in townships is often linked to life values. On the bottom end are the survivors. Everything they do is calculated to survive and add more value to life. Every cent they spend needs to give them a return, they stretch ingredients in cooking and their shopping behaviour is promotion driven. Survivors are more traditional, but will do what they can to uphold their social standing, and pretend to have a better life than they do.

The women who are often the ones buying groceries honour their ‘womanhood’.  Every purchase decision is very technical and calculated and this group has mastered the art of surviving and living on very little. Townships are not necessarily their home, but they are trying to make the best they can with what they have. Survivor life is orientated towards sharing and the ability to do this is often part of upholding social status. Stokvels and joint shopping makes sense and the way this is done is very sophisticated.

The middle economic segment is more materialistic. They still have affordability issues, but the primary focus is on social mobility and status, which is often based on pretence.  Social standing in the here and now is central and there is a short term vision. This group often live way beyond their means. There is no linear relationship between price and income. This group are the least traditional and value contemporary lifestyles, they want to be seen as modern and ‘with it’. Their life values are based on expression of status, access, owning their own lives, feeling good and being respected.

This top economic tier is more self-actualised. They can afford to move out of the township, but don’t. They are proud of their heritage, they value tradition, but express this through a modern lens. They value both tradition and what a contemporary lifestyle has to offer and balance the two. They don’t see why they need to conform to Western ideals to be worthy and there is pride in Black consciousness. This segment is highly ambitious and educated. Education is a differentiator or splitting variable.  This group pretend less, earn more, and build the community from a perspective of pride.

One cannot think of township residents as walking demographics. Proximity does not create homogeneity, it is important for marketers to grasp the under-currents and the role that alignment to traditional customs and contemporary life values has on the purchase decision. Marketers need to understand the complex levels of planning, calculated living in the township environment, where purchase decisions are often less impulsive and spontaneous. Ask Afrika can assist marketers in co-planning.

Ask Afrika interviewed a total of 6,763 Kasi consumers, and the Kasi Star Brand survey represents the views of 9,694,666 million Kasi consumers living in South Africa.  The survey represents 73% of the overall South African township population.  Face-to-face interviews were done within Kasi-households.  To make sure everything is correct an external company BDO and Dr Neethling was asked to check all results.  In this year’s survey 24 Kasi Star Brands were identified, followed by winners across 163 product categories.  These are the brands and products you are most likely to find in a South-African Kasi-household.  

To find out more about Ask Afrika’s KASI Star Brands™, to order a report, please contact: Maria Petousis, TGI Director at Ask Afrika,, or Julie-Anne Terblanche, Client Services Executive at TGI Ask Afrika,, +27 12 428 7400.

About the Ask Afrika Group:
Over a period of almost two decades, Ask Afrika Group has grown to be the largest independent South African market research company. The company focuses on local relevance, benchmarked against the global context. Ask Afrika is a member of ESOMAR. Apart from its large South African footprint, Ask Afrika Group also operates in a dozen African continental territories. 

Ask Afrika Group is well known for delivering strategic and large scale field projects and for creating benchmarks for industry. With regards to service excellence Ask Afrika Group is the preferred research partner across industries to co-craft customer service strategies through meaningful research methodologies across the value chain and customer service touch points. 

TGI research, for which Ask Afrika Group  owns the South African copyright, has an annual single source sample of 15 000 locally and 800 000 globally. It has a global geographic coverage of 70 markets, and measures services, products, media, and brands. Ask Afrika’s knowledge of brands is extensive and as owner of the local TGI license, it is the leader in brand expertise in South Africa. TGI can provide a commercial alternative to industry media measurements. It is the perfect vehicle for brand positioning.  

The Ask Afrika Groups’ exclusive product suite includes the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, the Trust Barometer™, Radio Moods™, TGI (Target Group Index), Ask Afrika ICON Brands™ and TGI Township, the Digital Barometer, the Lite Data Collection, the Behavioural Sciences Package and Gateway. Ask Afrika is proud of its exceptional service delivery, with offices based in Pretoria and Stellenbosch. For more information please visit the website:

Issued on behalf of Ask Afrika by Stone Soup Public Relations

For further information, please contact Daya Coetzee, (011) 447 7241