IPSOS survey: South Africans prioritise health and wellness 

South Africans are taking their health into their own hands. The latest Ipsos Essentials Survey reveals they are eclipsing global averages in personal health practices.

Despite financial pressures, South Africans prioritise health in South Africa (Image: Ipsos Essentials)

South African consumers are not simply talking about wellness but living it by cultivating healthy habits and making wise choices.

Ipsos Head of Marketing Strategy & Understanding, Hendrik van Blerk elaborates: “We have noticed an interesting trend that despite financial pressures, South Africans prioritise health in South Africa, with a considerable portion identifying as fitness enthusiasts. It seems that optimism and personal health goals are motivating us to keep up with first-world countries in terms of health awareness.” 

Balancing risk and busy lifestyles   

While the Essentials Survey findings highlight South Africa’s proactive health habits, it is conducted online, predominantly capturing the perspectives of the urban and connected population. In South Africa, the most prominent health segment is the Risk Minimisers. It comprises 33% of the population, surpassing the global average of 31%. Risk Minimisers are not particularly active but tend to guard against health issues by avoiding unhealthy lifestyle options. 

Close behind are the Busy Balancers, who make up 27% of the population, mirroring the global norm. For these individuals, vitality is a balancing act between healthy habits and demanding lifestyles. 

South Africa boasts a higher percentage of Fitness Enthusiasts compared to the global country average. The study found that 21% of South Africans fall into the Fitness Enthusiasts category, which is notably higher than the global average of 17%. Furthermore, only 5% of South Africans are considered Health Denialists, a figure lower than the global country average of 9%. When asked about their overall well-being, 55% of online South Africans agreed that they feel good both physically and mentally. These findings highlight the growing trend of health consciousness and the importance of fitness among South African citizens. 

Vital elements of South Africa’s wellness culture 

When asked about the measures they have taken in the past four weeks to stay healthy, online South Africans prioritise hydration, with 64% selecting drinking more water as a top measure. This figure is significantly higher than the global country average of 44%, indicating a strong awareness of the importance of proper hydration among South Africans. Moreover, 49% of South Africans regularly engage in physical exercise, surpassing the global norm of 42%. Complementing this active lifestyle, 44% of South Africans often spend time outdoors and go for walks, taking advantage of the country’s generally mild and sunny climate. This practice not only supports physical fitness but also contributes to mental well-being, as spending time in nature offers a revitalising escape from the stresses of daily life. 

A preference for wholesome options 

A significant 83% of the South Africans surveyed online purposely select products that support physical and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, 82% proactively manage their health through food and beverage choices. Compared with the global averages of 77% and 76% respectively, this reflects a discerning approach and a mindful consumer philosophy. Interestingly, when asked about their shopping habits, 50% of South Africans agree with the statement, “When shopping for food, I often buy higher quality products because I am saving money in other places right now,” indicating a growing trend of prioritising food quality despite potential financial constraints. 

Empowered wellness 

Overall, South Africans are proving that health is a personal journey as much as a national conversation. The data reveals a population driven by a personal commitment to health that sets it apart on the global stage.

Van Blerk comments: “For manufacturers and marketers, these insights offer a gateway into understanding consumer behaviour and developing strategies that resonate with a health-conscious public. It is a call to align with a market that values wellbeing and is actively shaping its health narrative.” 

Ipsos Essentials monitors how people across the globe navigate the new rules of engagement and the resulting impact on our state of mind, state of wallet, and future intentions. Each month Ipsos surveys consumers in 15 countries, including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the UK and the US. 

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