South Africa's black middle class is driving a post-apartheid consumer boom in the country, a report has said.
Mr Mandela's election is pinpointed as a turning point for the economy
The group is responsible for almost a quarter of the 600bn rand spent yearly by consumers, the University of Cape Town's Black Diamond study said.
Government measures to bring the sector into the mainstream economy have helped its growth, the report added.
The black middle class, making up two million of the 45 million population, is expected to grow by 50% a year.
The black middle class is defined as people who earn at least 154,000 rand a year, and the sector has surged by 368% between 1998 and 2004.
"There were huge surprises for the average marketer in this study," said John Simpson, director of the Unilever Institute at the University of Cape Town which conducted the research.
"The one is the sheer size of the group and then it also accounts for 23% of total consumer power in this country, which has been achieved in a very, very short period and continues to grow very rapidly indeed," he added.
The buying power of the black population had taken off with the end of apartheid in 1994 which had "enormous and immediate effects - access to jobs, finance, credit, homes, education," the report said.
Before the election of Nelson Mandela as president at that time "black society was a single, monolithic, classless society with limited, menial jobs, no home ownership and under-educated".
More wealth is now making its way into South Africa's townships
Now companies are hoping to cash in on the boom by moving into townships - once devoid of any big names.
They are hoping to take advantage of the fact that three-quarters of the black middle class population lives in formal homes in such areas.
Fashion retailer Edgars Consolidated Stores and grocery supermarket Shoprite have already opened a number of outlets in townships - including Soweto.
Woolworths has also said it is hoping to open 10 township stores.
"Not all the black middle class is in the suburbs, besides the Woolies brand is growing and is liked," Woolworth's retail estate chief told Reuters news agency.
But while black consumers appear more brand conscious than their white counterparts many anomalies remain.
"There is a very strong cultural manifestation which is very unusual," Mr Simpson said.
A "cultural pullback" still lingers among the group, which appears to be "living in two worlds", research leader Refiloe Mataboge added.
Almost half of the 750 people quizzed by the study said they still believed in the power of traditional healers while 75% believed in slaughtering cows to thank their ancestors.
Furthermore 90% still believe they must take care of their parents once they leave home.