The respondents were economically active South Africans across various cultures, languages, ages and gender.
“The findings,” Gordon Hooper, managing director of Bateleur, said, “point to how human emotions drive behaviour, be it brand purchase behaviour or workplace engagement behaviour. By understanding these fears and fantasies, brand managers and corporate leaders will be more effective and successful in engaging their stakeholders.”
... happiness is founded in fantasies of altruism, compassion, and self-actualisation.
Quality of life due to poor financial situations and safety and security concerns were the most prevalent among survey respondents. The biggest fear dominating the South African consumers in this survey was a fear associated with the rising cost of living, which tallied 62%. Almost half of the respondents fear for their safety and that of their loved ones. Notably, these fears are universal, spanning all segments of our society.
The report also revealed a 58% resultant fear of crime and violence. Hooper added: “Very few consumers are untouched by this undertow, which scars our psyche and wastes so much precious resource that could be better spent on fantastical endeavours.”
Loadshedding (55%) and corruption fears (53%) were highly ranked under the banner of a lack of provision of ordained government services. The political instability, SA’s credit rating, and land reforms compound these fears, which, Hooper explains, “is why so many people are leaving our beloved country. They’re driven by fear.”
Poverty ranks third as unemployment, food shortages, and healthcare fears overshadow happiness. Money matters and health features as the top concerns. “Almost nobody is free from some combination of these fears,” shared Hooper.
He continued: “It is unsurprising to me that there is a direct correlation between income and education. What is surprising is that only 20% of respondents expressed fears about poor quality of education. In other words, my surprise is the fact that the fear of poorer quality or inaccessible (through expense) education is so low. This poses the hypothesis that citizens do not get the fact that a large part of the solution to poverty lies in education.”
“There are many other fears detailed in the report. The paper shows unhappiness is inextricably linked to excessive fears relating to a lack of purpose in life, physical appearance, mental health, money matters and relationships. Unhappiness is strongly linked to fantasies of monopolism and materialism.”
Conversely, happiness is founded in fantasies of altruism, compassion, and self-actualisation. Being financially secure (65%) – most especially being able to provide for one’s family – travelling the world (46%), winning the lottery (41%) and living without regrets or worry also rank high on the fantasy list. One in five respondents fantasise about escaping from SA and going abroad, while a third of respondents fantasise about living a simpler, less complicated life with fewer hassles and worries.
Compassion ranks high on the list of fantasies. 4/10 respondents fantasise about doing good and performing random acts of kindness. A full one-third of respondents fantasise about having a passive income. Only 28% of respondents fantasise about nailing a definite purpose or passion for their lives. 28% have altruistic fantasies, including giving back to communities, leaving behind a legacy, changing people’s lives for the better and inspiring others.
For at least one in five respondents, an extraordinary amount of commercial success and wealth has been derived from consumers’ fantasies for health and well-being, including healthy food, losing weight, getting in shape, subscribing to that sleep app, more leisure time and early retirement.
Respondents who spend time thinking about getting in shape and enjoying a healthier diet tend to fall on the happy side of the spectrum.
Fantasising about or aspiring to creative activities was relatively low. Moreover, only 17% aspire to learn a new language, which is disappointing in a country with 11 official languages. Musicianship and becoming an author are also quite low on the fantasy list.
Hooper remarked on a broad insight he found in the paper, “Happy people tend to harbour fears about things that are largely out of their control and, if these were to be problems solved, they would benefit society at large. Conversely, unhappy people harbour fears fixated on matters that are largely within their control. If these were to be problems solved, they would benefit them as individuals.”
To access the full Bateleur Vantage Point white paper for more comprehensive insights, click here.