Cautious Optimists: Infographic, Narrative & Methodology


The seventh group to be explored in Brand South Africa’s behavioural group series is the Cautious Optimists. Cautious Optimists have a strong sense of national pride and are loving people. Along with the Independent Humanists, and Celebrators of Achievement, a big portion of this group are Proudly South African at 74%. A further defining characteristic is the extremely strong value they place on freedom, and being citizens of a democratic and diverse country.

While being proud democrats, Cautious Optimists are also characterized by their strong perceptions on South Africa’s stagnated development over the past few years due to government’s poor performance. 71% of this group trusts the private sector, a number indicating significantly stronger support in the private sector than for the government and political parties. A large portion (17%) of this group is undecided on their party of choice. However, they have recently started gaining renewed confidence in government, recognizing efforts made to create a conducive and equal South Africa for all who live in it.

The group is comprised of people who are marginalized and poor. Many rely on social grants as a major source of income, while those who are employed receive a monthly gross household income of R10 827 and a monthly gross personal income of R5 372, figures significantly lower than the national average. Only 44% of this group is employed, which is lower than the average of all the behavioural groups. Considering that the majority of this group live in rural areas, their participation in sports or similar activities is very low, and they normally find themselves deprived of many opportunities such as funding for university fees, access to health care and basic government services. With the little that this group has, they remain strongly motivated to support others, and their communities. However, increased marginalization resulted in a withdrawal of engagements with others due to their circumstances. Further, this group does not follow current affairs and therefore show a low discernment on a day to day to affairs that affects others and the country. While members of this group may not express experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination, the group is aware of the growing racial divide in South Africa and the lack of appropriate action taken to deal with racial tensions.

Constituting ten percent of the South African population, this group has a notable presence of 33% in Gauteng, and have maintained a stronghold in KwaZulu-Natal at 22%. The representation of Black and Coloured people are both one percent higher than the national average, respectively making up 80% and 10% of this group. Whereas the representation of Indian and White people are low, respectively making up two and seven percent of the groups composition.

Behavioural Group Research Methodology

Survey classification Description
Research conducted by African Response and MarkData
Confidentiality Respondent information is kept confidential and in line with ESOMAR Code of Conduct practices
Survey dates The survey was administered between October and November 2019
Sample size n = 2 500, a final sample of 2 506 realised
Sample selection Multi-staged stratified random design using StastSA 2018 mid-year population estimates
Margin of error 0.097 at 95% confidence level
Data collection methodology Face-to-face in-home interviews on Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) devices
Weighting of data Weighted, using RIM weight methodology. Weight efficiency was 87%
Reporting Weighted, percentages are rounded


Brand South Africa’s Research Notes and Research Reports communicate findings from Brand South Africa research and related panel discussions. The Research Notes and Reports are intended to elicit comments, contribute to debate, and inform stakeholders about trends and issues that impact on South Africa’s reputation and overall competitiveness. Views expressed in Research Notes are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Brand South Africa, or the Government of the Republic of South Africa. Every precaution is taken to ensure the accuracy of information. However, Brand South Africa shall not be liable to any person for inaccurate information or opinions contained herein.

Contact: Dr. Petrus de Kock, Brand South Africa, General Manager – Research +27 11 –712 5000