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Justification of generational cohort segmentation in South Africa

Helen Duh (School of Business and Finance, Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape (UWC), Cape Town, South Africa)
Miemie Struwig (School of Management Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 19 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to look at the successful generational cohort segmentation from global and country-specific formative experiences in the USA, to examine the justification of cohort segmentation in South Africa. It also describes the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the latest consumer cohort – Generation Y for the interest of retailers and marketing managers.


The study gathers secondary data by carefully scrutinizing books, journal articles, essays and dissertations. From these secondary sources, summaries of various findings and important scholarly insights into the qualifying factors for cohort formation and the important characteristics that make Generation Y an attractive consumer segment are provided.


Findings show that, generational cohort segmentation is reserved for countries whose defining moments meet some qualifying conditions. South Africa can segment consumers in terms of generational cohorts because the historic and political defining events the country experienced fulfil the requirements for cohort formation. Particularly, apartheid is suggested to be the country-specific defining event backing the labelling of Generation X and Y South Africans. Generation X should thus be “the apartheid, socio-economic instability cohort” and Generation Y should be “the post apartheid socio-economically liberated cohort” Findings also show that Generation Y South Africans constitute a majority of the growing middle class, termed “Black Diamonds”.


In addition to providing summaries of useful marketing-related reasons to target Generation Y consumers, this study assesses the qualification of South Africa’s historic and political events in forming consumer cohorts for generational marketing.



Duh, H. and Struwig, M. (2015), "Justification of generational cohort segmentation in South Africa", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 89-101.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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