Our research focus in consumer sciences is enhancing consumer interests and wellbeing in South Africa (CON-WELL). The diversity of the South African consumer population and the functioning of these consumers in an emerging economy motivate research that aims to ensure their wellbeing with regard to their most basic needs. Consumer wellbeing and interests are addressed by empowering consumers to maintain or increase their quality of life in a unique multicultural environment. Research in this area is undertaken from a consumer perspective, with consumer behaviour being the keystone of all research.

The aim of CON-WELL as a research focus area is to assist consumers to effectively and optimally use their resources on a daily basis. Focussing on consumers in the North West Province of South Africa, from both rural and urban contexts and from different demographic subgroups with regard to gender, age, level of education, income and ethnicity. 

Consumer behaviour research is used as a vehicle to reach the above aim. By investigating consumers’ behaviour with regard to their use of available resources and employing intervention strategies regarding this behaviour. Consumers’ behaviour in a household, working and retail setting is investigated.

CON-WELL uses delineated projects that fall into this research focus area to investigate consumers’ effective resource management from the perspectives of different consumer problems, each structured as a project within CON-WELL. These problems are timely and relevant within the South African context with which consumers have to cope on a daily basis, and  with the resources that they have available.

A research problem or project is approached by a team of researchers with expertise in different areas of consumer behaviour research, working together to enhance consumers’ interests and wellbeing in the context of the project.


Our team

Prof Daleen van der Merwe – Leader of the research area and post-graduate supervisor

Dr Annchen Mielmann – Researcher and post-graduate supervisor

Dr Hanli de Beer – Researcher and post-graduate supervisor

Dr Minnet du Preez – Researcher and post-graduate supervisor

Ms Eloïse Botha – PhD candidate and M-study supervisor

Ms Heleen Dreyer – PhD candidate and M-study supervisor

Ms Louise Wyma – PhD candidate and M-study supervisor

Ms Neoline le Roux – Researcher and post-graduate supervisor

Ms Annemie Niemann – M-study supervisor

Ms Cherelle Abrahams – Masters candidate


Current research projects

1.    Consumer Health Resources (COHERE):

“Jointly with the consumer towards better resource management in a health context”

This project aims to assist consumers to effectively and optimally use their resources in the context of consumer health from a holistic point of view to enhance their interests and wellbeing.

In the context of this project ‘Health’ is defined as (WHO, 1946):




The specific aims of this project are:

  • To assist consumers in:

    a. making informed / rational decisions and optimally use resources in the context of general health.
    b.gaining benefit from accessible / available resources in and around the household and marketplace to contribute / improve their health.
    c.overcoming their vulnerabilities regarding their health by optimising available resources and informed decision making.  

  • To enhance consumers’ health by:

    a. assisting them to employ suitable coping strategies regarding their health / challenges with the assistance of their available resources.
    b. optimising available resources (familiar, unfamiliar/novel, innovative or underutilised) such as (but not limited to) foods, fabrics/textiles products and personal care/household products using product development, primary research and other innovative methods.
    c. improving resource security and sustainability. 
    d. improving their quality perception and satisfaction with services or products in a to improve consumer well-being.
    e. means of consumer education efforts and influencing policy making decisions.


2.    Enhancing informed decision making among working women in South Africa: toward wellbeing (Working Women):

Working female consumers in South Africa face various challenges with respect to the different roles and responsibilities they have. The traditional roles of women in South African households have undergone little change, while they are now subject to the same work-related responsibilities as male colleagues, but against the background of constant pressure from work and family-related role conflict. The important role that working women play in the South African economy is recognised by the South African government, which recommends that legislative and intervention actions are undertaken to address role inequalities. The poor psychosocial and physical health of working females as compared to male counterparts is a reason for concern. Furthermore, literature confirms that working female consumers are pressured for time and engage in impulse purchasing, despite their intention to support healthy and green products. South African research among consumers working in the corporate sector pointed to an association between decision-making styles and psychosocial and physical well-being. Informed and sufficiently considered decisions by working female consumers could therefore make a positive contribution to their wellbeing. This project therefore addresses the following main research question: In what ways can South African working women be supported to make better-informed decisions in order to positively contribute to their wellbeing?

Study with us

When enrolling for our Master of Consumer Sciences or PhD in Consumer Sciencesyou are able to set your research focus on the wellbeing and interests of consumers. We have a number of research topics to choose from.


For further information visit the official CON-WELL page, or contact Prof Daleen van der Merwe.