The Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing says the black middle class is now 4.2 million people strong, up from 1.7 million in 2004.
And many say their status is hard-won.
"I just started to work hard, you know, basically to have the sort of values that will see you putting your nose to the grindstone, giving your best, that sort of thing," Abdeel said.
Spending by Abdeel and other members of the black middle class is estimated at more than $44 billion a year -- eclipsing white middle class spending, which is stagnating.
While the middle class is still a small part of South Africa's 52 million people, researchers say it is significant - especially after decades of inequality under apartheid.
The Cape Town researchers said middle-class households make between $1,800 and $5,500 a month.
Professor John Simpson, who headed the study, says the growth of the black middle class could improve South Africa's economy.
"For me, it is the one shining light in an otherwise quite a dismal world. And so, our country's economy hasn't grown since 2008 in quite the way we thought it would. But this group can actually make it grow further," Simpson said.
1.emerging adj. 新兴的；出现的；形成的
Operational Research is a newly emerging subject.
2.hard-won adj. 来之不易的；难得的
The dispute could destroy Australia's hard-won reputation for industrial stability.
3.Nose to the grindstone 辛苦工作
You need to quit complaining and get to work. Put your nose to the grindstone!
4.eclipse vt. 使黯然失色；形成蚀
Yet the doves are soon eclipsed in his book by Roosevelt.
5.apartheid n. 种族隔离
He praised her role in the struggle against apartheid.