African Lions: Who are Africa’s rising middle class?

The African middle class are thriving, and with that brings new opportunities. But who exactly are the African middle class? And how can we understand more about them?

African Lions: Who are Africa’s rising middle class?

Last year’s African Lions study, run in partnership between Ipsos and The University of Cape Town Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing, spanned 10 major African cities and provided a demographic profile for the African middle class. The study found there are over 100 million middle class people in Sub-Saharan Africa representing a total spending power of +$400 million per day.

Building on the findings from the study, our new Ipsos Views paper proposes that the African middle class cannot be defined in dollar terms alone and explores the other factors – attitudinal and behavioural – that determine middle class status. Painting a picture of the continent’s consumer landscape, we examine topics including household finances, shopping, nutrition, brand relationships and media usage. 

Contents include: 

  • Defining the African middle class 
  • Challenging assumptions 
  • Understanding the African shopper and the power of brands
  • Considerations for marketers 
  • Looking to the future

Challenges for the African middle class include unpredictable earnings (three-quarters say their income changes month-by-month) and poor city infrastructure resulting in a lack of basic amenities in the home (only 42% have running water, for example). However, despite the continual challenges, there is a sense of optimism and hope due to the entrepreneurial spirit, growing urbanisation and young population. Two-thirds of the African middle class are younger than 35, a demographic dividend signifying an overwhelmingly positive forecast for marketers in terms of spending power growth.

Consumer & Shopper