A large segment of South Africa's black middle class believes marketers and advertisers are making stereotyped efforts to connect with them, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The study, by the University of Cape Town's Unilever Institute and the Research Surveys organisation, says 49% of the group feel that they are misrepresented in the media by local marketers and advertisers.
The institute says South Africa's two-million-strong black middle class is growing at an estimated rate of 50% a year, and currently has an annual spending power of R130-billion.
Institute director Prof John Simpson said these so-called "black diamonds" are not a homogenous group and consist of a number of different segments defined by life-stage, age, occupation, education and income.
"However, there is agreement across all the segments regarding the media message aimed at them. They feel that their true identity is not understood, and are that they are often misrepresented," he said.
He said the survey shows a pressing need for marketers to do further research -- and better understand -- their target market.
"Respondents call on marketers and advertisers to commit to learning about their lives to avoid the stereotypes that are often portrayed in current communication," he said.
According to the study, members of the group felt that two extremes are portrayed in marketing communication: the stereotypical, black economic empowerment "fat cat" living in luxury, and the domestic worker or labourer.
Respondents felt that the vast majority of this group is not represented by either of these stereotypes, while 79% believed that too much media attention is focused on those regarded as "up and coming".