By Leigh Andrews
We love our social networks … but it seems we love them just as they are. Digital specialist dotJWT undertook a research project
focusing on South African consumers’ views on Facebook
following the social networking site’s rollout of a new Timeline format. The dotJWT-funded study saw the local agency working with an overseas research company that conducted research across a range of socio-economic groupings. In the official press release about the study, executive digital director Yoav Tchelet said: “Through the research, we wanted to know what South Africans aged between 18 and 40 think of the new Timeline format, how it’s affecting brands’ presence on Facebook
and how they should be attracting new fans and engaging with existing ones within the new Timeline framework.” And the findings? Evenly split across the country’s major metropolitan areas, 52% of those polled said they preferred the old format, showing that we’re sticklers for habit. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t moved with the times.
When MasterCard Worldwide released the results of its latest Online Shopping Survey in April, Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx provided
further insights into the current online landscape. The survey was conducted across 25 markets between 5 December 2011 and 6 January 2012, with 500 respondents in each of these countries surveyed. He explained the relevance of these global findings by comparing them to those from World Wide Worx
’ most recent local study, stating that after studying the online environment for a decade, we are now starting to better understand the demographics of these consumers.
With regard to e-commerce, 58% of the active internet users surveyed currently shop online, which is up from 53% in 2010. And these figures are rising fast with Goldstuck predicting that if the trend continues, in the next few years, online will become a key platform for shopping. Security is not the obstacle it used to be, with just 38% of respondents saying they feel online is an unsafe environment. It’s a figure that Goldstuck believes will decrease in coming years. Other factors that can affect this confidence level include whether there are reviews of the website and products, as well as an exchange or refunds policy, all of which point to the importance of word-of-mouth, which Goldstuck believes is going mobile in 2012.
On that note, the MediaShop recently held a ‘mobile media’ breakfast presentation at the Johannesburg Country Club in Woodmead which Gavin Coetzee attended and shares feedback from. The main point in Justin Sanan, associate commercial director for Nielsen Online’s presentation was that mobile handsets are being used increasingly as TV-viewing devices. Fiona Potgieter of Yonder Media provided further interesting statistics on mobile usage in South Africa. Key among these was that Africa is the fastest growing telecom region in the world, with South Africa at 105% mobile penetration. She added that 60% of South African phones are WAP-enabled and 25% of South Africans accessing the internet on their phones, with 65% of Google
’s online searches done on weekends being conducted on mobiles. Added to this, 18% of South Africans own a smart phone, which equates to roughly 9-million people. With this in mind, Potgieter believes mobile internet will soon overtake desktop internet access in terms of numbers in the country. And it’s not just those in the upper echelons of society, as more than 50% of mobile internet users fall into LSMs 5 to 7.
At the same event, Tony Shapshak of Stuff
magazine stated that feature phones are the Toyotas of the world, with the iPhone as the Lamborghini. He explained, “we all want to drive one but the majority of us can’t afford to, so we drive Toyotas.” Added to this, Angry Birds is the best selling app in the world. He also pointed out that 68% of Facebook
users are above the age of 25, knocking the view that's it's only used by the youth. Focusing on smart phones, he stated that the BlackBerry Curve 8250 is the most popular smart phone in Africa and 70% of mobile users on the continent use Symbian technology to access the internet. Shapshak also indicated the importance of connectivity in today’s age, stating that 50-million people worldwide have a mobile phone but don’t have electricity at home, showing that mobile access has further reach than electricity.
So there you have it. It seems we definitely are living in the future, as mobile becomes increasingly important. They’ve evolved from a way to keep in touch with loved ones to a way to entertain ourselves by playing games, educate ourselves by reading up on the news and watching TV, making purchases through m-commerce, making complaints, recommendations, and sharing our opinions and experiences with the world at large. What’s next, I wonder? We’ll find out soon.