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Top End

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Although small in number, the most affluent segment in the South African consumer landscape has massive household spending power. The TopEnd is defined as households earning a monthly income of approximately R50 000 or more. At just over a million households, this segment is diverse and influential.

The initial study in 2011 was the largest and most comprehensive research project ever carried out among South Africa’s wealthiest people. The study took a year to complete and involved more than 8000 participants in massive qualitative and quantitative research project.

After the initial study in 2011, the UCT Unilever Institute has updated the research to include more themes and has continued to monitor trends. The research has drawn on a personalised analysis of the latest data from the National Income Dynamics Survey. In addition, an annual stream of in-depth interviews with TopEnd consumers as conducted by the Institute (around subjects of budgeting, aspirations and debt management to name a few).

Partnerships with Ramsey Media Research Solutions (2011) and WhyFive (2018) as well as a Nielsen study (2016) have also helped to gather tailored quantitative data through which to build insights. Other research grants for this report include Clicks, Edcon, Glacier and Growthpoint.

The TopEnd Report gives an account of the following themes:

  •  A description of the demographic and spending power profile of the TopEnd
  • A segmentation tool to differentiate between those who are wealthy (drivers), very wealthy (high flyers) and extremely wealthy (Astronauts). This tool helps to identify different consumption profiles.
  • A themed description of key drivers of behaviour
  • A wealth profile comparison between geographic, race and age demographics.
  • Video ethnographic (each 90 seconds) to provide a psycho-social window into the Top End market.
  • A window into media consumption and debt profiles.

While most of South Africa’s top marketers are themselves part of the Top End segment, research is often hard to generate. Many Top End consumers are reluctant to share their personal data with researchers and are often too busy to participate in data capture. The work done by the UCT Unilever Institute (in conjunction with its many partners) has been able to overcome these challenges and produce a strong empirical foundation for strategic planning and marketing decisions. 

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