High levels of physical and economic stress among African consumers

By our News Team | 2021

But, on the positive side, Africa ranks higher in physical and social well-being than the global average.

With consumer positivity and higher levels well-being proving an important barometer of the way people are likely to consume products and services, African marketers will be at least partially cheered by the results of the latest 360° Well-Being Index compiled by the Cigna Corporation, an international health services business.

In the study conducted in March-April 2021, Africa’s physical well-being index was at 62.4, and ranked higher than the global average of 58.2. Similarly, Africa ranked higher in the social well-being index at 64, compared with the global average of 61.6.

The encouraging physical and social well-being indices came amid increasing stress levels in Africa. While stress incidences were found to be very high on the African continent at 91%, in comparison with a global average of 83%, the researchers say the response from African survey participants reinforces that stress is, at least, becoming less stigmatised on the continent.

Consumer well-being

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Another encouraging trend emerging in Africa was that 57% of office-based workers preferred the work-from-home option compared to 34% in global markets. However, the study also found that 50% of the work-from-home employees in Africa are spending longer hours working, compared with 39% globally.

“Mirroring global trends, Africa is witnessing an increase in incidences of stress, overwork, gaps in workplace wellness, and overall well-being. It is time to work cohesively to raise awareness and drive positive change on this front,” said Leah Cotterill, Chief Distribution Officer, MEA at Cigna.

The top trends from the survey include:

  • Adult Africans are more stressed. The pandemic situation has not helped the adult population in Africa. The study proves that financial worries, be they personal or family, or the uncertainty about the future, are leading to increased stress levels in Africa. Over 48% of respondents experience disrupted sleep, 40% feel depressed, 38% are getting emotional and 43% have avoided socialising. A whopping 81% have observed their spouse as stressed compared with 60% globally, with 53% experiencing mental symptoms. The stress is leading to a drop in respondents getting enough sleep at night, with only 39% able to get sufficient sleep, compared with 46% in 2020. The silver lining is that only 45% of children in Africa are stressed, compared with 55% globally.
  • The Pandemic has worsened financial well-being across Africa. On average, fewer than 10% of the respondents in Africa believe their current financial situation could meet their family’s hobbies, pay mortgage or rent, ensure financial security in case of emergency, or have sufficient savings for retirement. The pandemic has worsened the situation.
  • Whole Health among the priorities for Africans. Africans are committed to healthy living amid the evolving situation of the pandemic globally. Whole Health has been rated as very important in the continent, compared to the global average. A whopping 91% rate mental health to be extremely important, compared to 71% globally. Also, there is higher resilience in Africa [63%] compared to only 39% globally.
  • An increased number of Africans prefer hybrid health consultation. With markets slowly opening up, Africans are preferring hybrid health consultations from their doctors and medical practitioners. Around 63% in Africa prefer a mix of both traditional and virtual health advisory, which is far higher than the global average of 52%. Approximately 27% on the continent prefer only virtual engagement, compared to 21% globally. The study also showed that more than 50% of respondents who went in for virtual health consultation used it mainly for general health advice and counselling.