New Urban Tribes of South Africa: Dion Chang weighs in on modern South Africa
Dion Chang's newest book,
New Urban Tribes of South Africa, can be seen as part anthropological essay and part marketing tool. He explains to Steyn du Toit why this book provides a fascinating glimpse at where modern South African society sits in 2012.
You are known for wearing various professional hats. What would your profession be?
I've settled comfortably in the trends analysis/forecasting space. It fulfils my ever-curious nature and fascination with shifting social dynamics and human behaviour.
What is it about trends you think people/consumers find so attractive?
We are at an incredible crossroads of change - at the threshold of a new world order. You see it in tried and tested templates of business all fast becoming obsolete or inappropriate for the 21st century, so people are looking for answers - and trends are a means of navigating uncharted waters.
How would you describe New Urban Tribes of South Africa in one sentence?
It is part anthropological essay and part marketing tool, or just simply a fascinating glimpse at where modern South African society sits in 2012.
What exactly is an urban tribe?
An emerging pattern of new communities connecting with one another outside of the usual socio-economic benchmarks - like Living Standards Measures (LSMs). Technology has levelled the playing field in various ways. It has made electronic devices smaller, cheaper and faster, democratised media channels and connected people (via social media) to such an extent that geographic, cultural and racial boundaries have begun to dissolve. In their place is a brave new world where communities with shared interests grow and thrive.
Why 12 tribes? Is there a possibility that the number could increase/decrease in the future? What would that be dependent on?
There were a lot more tribes I identified, but since this was an introduction to challenge (what I feel are) outdated LSMs it had to be broad enough for people to understand the concept. I hope to follow on with more tribes once people become more comfortable with this type of segmentation or profiling. It is interesting to note that many people are already telling me that they can't find themselves within these 12 tribes. The ebook is not meant to cover every possible tribe in South Africa – these 12 are "new" urban tribes that are emerging because of their cultural or economic impact on the country.
How would potential readers benefit from reading New Urban Tribes of South Africa?
They would get a better understanding of the nuances within our rainbow nation, and I hope more empathy for our cross-cultural society and the factors that drive these tribes.