Top 5 Insights for Businesses to Win With the South African Women

30 Jun 2016|dutlowm

Originally published in the Star & Cape Argus newspaper.

Women make up an increasingly powerful and lucrative target market that cannot be ignored. However winning with women can be tricky. The modern South African women is complex, shaped by an ever-changing world, filled with tensions and paradoxes. Her reality is plagued with demands of society, family, and sometimes her pivotal role as a mother. Understanding her, and the world she lives in, is critical for your business to succeed.

Here are the top 5 insights, to help your business win the heads and hearts of South African women.

1. She is juggling many balls and needs business to help lighten her load.

South Africa has an unprecedented rate of single mothers, placing most South African women under significant pressure. The typical South Africa woman is a mother, father, employee, part time business owner, nurse and teacher all in one! This makes her time poor, yet open to finding new efficient ways to deliver on her multiple roles successfully.

The businesses who win with her are those that make things simpler, better and faster. They acknowledge and celebrate her ability to perform all of these roles.

2. She is balancing traditional and modern ways of doing things and needs businesses to live in both of these worlds with her.

The South African woman is deeply proud of her heritage and traditions which shape her identity and values. However, the modern world sometimes brings new fresh ways of doing things that can sometimes conflict with the traditional way. She is often caught between how her mother would have done something vs. what the modern media says. Everything, from how to raise her kids, cook meals and run her home, is always subject to this “traditional vs. modern” tension.

The businesses that win are those who and understand and appreciate tradition, and yet offer modern solutions that work without being condescending.

Is your business or offering/culture in conflict with traditional ways? How can you help resolve this conflict vs. making things more complicated?

3. She values inter-dependence over independence and needs business to help her access the right networks.
Globally businesses and brands have been quick to jump on the “girl power” and “independent woman” band wagon. This approach of aggressive individualism could be quite flawed in the South African context because South African women value community, interdependence and Ubuntu – a philosophy that says people are people through other people.

However, the world is changing and the South African woman is in need of new types of communities and networks, as the community she comes from and her existing networks may not be enough for her to progress.

As the modern South African Woman’s journey becomes ever more complex, she needs business and brands to help her connect to the right networks. What is your business doing to help create such support structures?

4. Her children will live out the dreams she could not, and she needs business that can help enable this.
South Africa’s ugly political history was rooted in a white patriarchy which meant that most South African women could not freely live out their dreams and destinies, leaving women with the desire to create a better world for their children; a life where they can accomplish so much more than their mothers ever could. South African Women have made many sacrifices to make this new world possible, devoting all the resources at their disposal into their child’s future.

How could your business have a role in supporting mothers in raising this important next generation of South Africans?

5. She does not want to be “spoken at”. Business and brands need to engage her in meaningful conversations.

Gone are the days of business and institutions dictating and shouting out messages to submissive women. The modern South African woman has a lot to say and wants brands and business to engage her in meaningful conversations. Ignore this at your peril! Young South African Women were the leading face of the “fees must fall” movement, speaking their mind and being heard. The businesses that win are those who are geared up to engage in a dialogue with the customers.

Is your business open enough to listen and agile enough to respond to South African women?

Marilyn Dutlow Munga Associate Brand Director, Added Value South Africa.

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