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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Podcast: “Tsotsi” Muzi Kuzwayo on the Changing Face of South African Marketing

Boardroom Tsotsi Muzi Kuzwayo, WriterJoin me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Muzi Kuzwayo about the surprising resilience of race-based thinking when it comes to market research in South Africa – and how this creates tension between sales and marketing teams.

This is a topic that needs to receive more attention, as many marketers justify their race- or ethnicity-based approach by relying on ethnic parameters as a smokescreen for conclusions they would have reached without them. Kuzwayo is unimpressed by all the talk of “Black Diamonds”: he believes those who still think that there is a “black market” reflect an outmoded view of market realities.

Muzi Kuzwayo may have trained as a scientist, but it is as a marketer that he has brought his razor sharp mind to its most intense focus. His working days are spent analyzing the behaviour of South African marketers and the many communities on whom they spend so much money trying to reach.

Muzi KuzwayoBeing a scientist, it is no surprise that he values research. Through his writings and presentations, Muzi has tried to show that the idea of a single, homogenous black market is a myth – and that it’s time this market was understood as an ordinary one, with all the complexity, variation and sophistication associated with other markets.

Muzi has published two books that challenge the South African marketing community to let go of much of the thinking that may have served it well during the heyday of Apartheid, when there was enforced separation of the races.

His books debunk many of the myths that are cherished by South African marketers, who have been slow to reflect changing realities in their thinking and practice. His most recent work – provocatively titled There’s a Tsotsi in the Boardroom (Jacana) – is concerned with the tenacity and guile of those who have broken down the doors that were closed to them – even in the “new” South Africa – in order to succeed. In this book he shows how South Africans love to be treated like chiefs, and how South African marketing strategists need to take this insight to heart.

For me, a highlight of our conversation is Muzi’s surprising answer to the question, “Are there any white tsotsis?” Of course, he says, pointing to Pick ‘n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman as an example. I wonder how Raymond would feel about this sobriquet!

The pen is still mightier than the sword Marketing Through MudMuzi’s first book was titled Marketing Through Mud and Dust: Marketing to Black South Africans. Published in 2000, it was written to demonstrate how South Africa’s market realities and consumer patterns were changing so quickly that much “current” marketing practice was unable to keep up.

Muzi has an MBA from the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. He is a qualified photographer and a highly sought-after conference speaker; he contributes widely to magazines and other publications; and he has been featured as a speaker at the prestigious Design Indaba in Cape Town. Born in Payneville near Springs on the East Rand, Muzi lives in Johannesburg.

Please tune into my chat with Muzi Kuzwayo on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast:

  • Play now: use the widget links below, or click the link under Latest episodes in the sidebar on the right.
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