Despite the recent downturn in the economy, there is an emerging group of ambitious, middle class Black South African women who are making positive contributions to the culture, wealth and economic growth of our country â?? they are South Africaâ??s Black Diamonds…..

Although the term â??Black Diamondâ? refers to a population group of Black men and women who are empowering themselves economically and educationally, the women in this group are a powerful force who must not be underestimated; they are making some major decisions regarding where their families will live, shop and be educated.

Who are these Black Diamond women?

Recent research by the UCT Unilever Institute team, TNS Research Surveys, B2 Strategic Marketing, and the Bureau of Economic Research resulted in a presentation on Black Diamonds held recently in Durban.

The findings were enlightening and informative, and weâ??ve summarised them here, to give you an insight into who these Black Diamond women are, what makes them tick; their passions, their aspirations and beliefs, and the struggles they face as they make their mark on South African society. Many of their battles are due to cultural conflicts but youâ??ll recognise others as universal ones that women encounter daily when trying to combine their roles of wife, mother, daughter and working woman.

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How do we classify â??middle classâ?? women?

According to recent research by members of the UCT Unilever Institute team, TNS Research Surveys and B2 Strategic Marketing, the definition of middle class does not differentiate purely on wealth. Educational attainment (46% have a tertiary qualification) is a factor used to determine Black Diamond status, as is personal income (61% earn more than R6000 per month), and Igniter classification (Igniters are ambitious, motivated, future-focused and trend-setting members of SA society), all combine to classify these women as members of middle class SA society.

Value of Black Diamond Women market

R120 billion a year is being spent by 1.5 million Black Diamond women who make up 41% of total SA female spend (R290 billion). The Black Diamond Women market has increased by 15% in the last year…and itâ??s only going to get better

Black Diamond Women are key decision makers

89% make the day to day purchasing decisions, 69% of make the final decision over the big purchases in their home and more than two thirds decide on the important issues regarding children.

Black Diamond Women are Igniters

Igniters are individuals with influence over large personal networks, high optimism and a positive state of mind.  23% of the South African population are igniters while 96% of Black Diamond Women are igniters – almost no damp squibs! 97% of Black Diamond Women are optimists making it happen!

Black Diamond Women taking the lead

80% of Black Diamond Women believe that the future success of South Africa will be due to the efforts of women. 82% feel that women will achieve much more than men in their generation.

Key complexities and conflicts among Black Diamond women

Culture is the inner script and the lens through which Black Diamond Women view the world. 87% of Black Diamond Women believe that most black people are proud of their culture and only 34% believe that, generally, when youâ??ve got money, you stop practising your culture. 66% believe that certain aspects of culture and tradition are outdated and need to be transformed. 89% believe in Lobola and 70% believe in slaughtering to thank the ancestors or ask for their help and guidance.

Family and Home

The focus on home has become increasingly important as a sanctuary from a frantic world. For 82%, spending money on making your home beautiful is a priority and 63% would rather spend money on things for their home, than on clothes for themselves. Black Diamond Women are trying to find a new way of bringing up their children compared to the very strict upbringings they had, by integrating new value systems with cultural norms, trying to adopt a more collaborative style â?? very different from their parents and children are more influential in purchasing decisions.

Self determination is a key theme among Black Diamond women. 95% know they will achieve their own goals and 78% consider themselves extremely ambitious.  73% feel that they donâ??t need a man to achieve the goals they have set.

Education makes dreams happen…

46% of Black Diamond Women have a tertiary diploma or degree. A further 26% have a matriculation certificate. Only 8% did not complete high school, showing that the education gap between men and women has closed.

Body image and health

76% believe that being fit is a priority and that what you put into your body is as important as what you wear on the outside. The belief is that wherever possible, you choose free range or organic foods.

Black Diamond Women and money

Black Diamond Women are ingenious when it comes to making their money work for them. They are increasingly savvy in making trade-offs to suit their pockets.

Isnâ??t the Black Diamond segment over-reliant on credit and therefore about to implode?

On average, 52% of Black Diamond Women often use credit to buy the things they want. 64% can afford to make their debt repayments every month. However, less Black Diamonds feel trapped by the amount of debt they have (33% feel debt is a burden compared to 50% in 2005). 70% agree that â??they usually have enough money in their bank account to pay all their expenses every monthâ??, whilst only 10% have had items repossessed in the last year.

Both Black Diamond men and women increasingly financially astute. There is a strong sense that they have no problems when it comes to managing finances and an underlying sense that many are making a distinction between bad or â??blingâ?? debt and good debt. They are largely financially sussed â?? with evidence showing a significant growth in savings and transmission accounts (5%), and a strong desire to invest in the stock market .

Marriage is still aspirational among Black Diamond women

Most Black Diamond women say that it is important to have the commitment of marriage in a relationship. The reality is more complex; Black Diamond Women are trying to negotiate their new-found freedom with the more traditional gender perspectives of their men.

Black Diamond Women are trying to re-write cultural scripts of what it means to be a â??strongâ?? woman; culture lags behind legislation and opportunities. Like all women, Black Diamond women find it very difficult to create the balance between being a career-minded women, with being a wife, mother and daughter. When looking at this emerging population group of South Africans, it is important to understand the powerful impact of culture: cultural norms and values are the foundation and inner â??scriptâ?? for Black Diamond Women.

Black Diamond women are there for each other

Most  Black Diamond women prefer socialising with girlfriends to going out with the boys. Women are key influencers and reference points when it comes to decision making. Siyazenzela -We are doing it ourselves!
Sources:
UCT Unilever Institute team, TNS Research Surveys, B2 Strategic Marketing, Bureau of Economic Research.