Research update: Domestic Perceptions Research 2016


South Africa is a diverse country, yet most of its people see themselves as South African first, according to Brand South Africa’s latest Domestic Perceptions Research. They also view themselves in a positive light and believe that media is a little too critical about the nation.


During the past week Brand South Africa received results from the Domestic Perceptions Research study. This concludes two rounds of fieldwork conducted in the 2015/16 financial year. The research results of the two rounds, consolidated in one report, renders some interesting information about the perceptions South Africans have of the brand, and their outlook for the future.

This research update merely reflects on a few issues pertaining to self-description, pride, media consumption and perceptions of how the media reports on issues in the domestic environment. More updates on findings from the domestic research to follow.

Self-description labels

Being a South African is a very important element of individual and national identity.

  • In terms of nationality responses to the survey indicate – “I’m a South African” is the primary descriptive label amongst citizens.

Unlike perceptions created through mediated debate, South Africans are extremely proud of the country:

    • Over 80% of South African citizens claim that they are extremely proud to be South African. Citizens are inclined to recommend South Africa across the board, with higher affinity to travel to and live in. The box below indicates, by race, the predominant categories of self-description respondents identify with.


From this it is clear that all races identify themselves as South African first, with religion and race in second place, and culture and gender typically third and fourth choices.

In order to get more insight on how South Africans describe themselves, an open ended question asked respondents, in five words, to describe themselves, from this it emerges that:

  • People describe themselves in a positive light, focusing on character & personality traits like “loving”, “friendly”, “hardworking”, “respectful” and “honest”.

Coincidentally, these self-descriptions match findings from, for example, the Nation Brand Index, and City Brand Index that shows international respondents also describe South Africans as hardworking, open, and friendly people. The images below capture the most common words respondents used to describe themselves.


The above self-descriptions can help when speaking about the culture, values, and self-perception of South African people.

Media consumption & perceptions

Some general findings from the survey indicate that:

  • It’s top priority among citizens to constantly be informed about happenings in their community and country, as well as supporting local businesses – however when it comes to effort based activities it is deemed as less important.
  • Citizens want easy accessible information provided to them; being most directly influenced by family, friends/ colleagues, followed by mainstream media sources like TV & News radio broadcasts.
  • Having trusted advocates in society that people can learn from and understand – will give more positive outlook about what’s going on in SA
  • There is consensus that the media portrays more negative than positive information and stories about South Africa. The box below indicates that 62% of respondents think the SA media is too negative about the country.


In order to understand the extent to which South Africans trust sources of information, respondents are asked to rate the sources as outlined below.

Family, friends & colleagues; TV news; and Radio news are the top three trusted sources of information. Online social networking and related sources of information are the least trusted of all possible sources.




Other media consumption factors

  • 92% of all respondents own a cell phone;
  • 30% of respondents use a laptop;
  • 9% of respondents use a tablet.

Radio and Television

  • Just over half of the population listen to radio every day with Metro FM, Lesedi FM, and uMhlobo Wenene FM being the most popular radio stations;
  • In terms of television – Movie channels, SABC channels, and Religious channels are the most watched;
  • Documentary and News channels draw about 28% of respondents.

Print media

  • A quarter of the population read newspapers every day;
  • The Daily Sun is the most read newspaper (34% of respondents read this paper);
  • Other commonly read papers include: Isolezwe (8%); Sunday Times (5%); Beeld (4%); Son (4%); Sowetan (4%); The Citizen (3%).