South Africa News

South Africans prioritise social media even as they cut back on food, research shows

Having access to data to search the internet or visit social media sites when load shedding hits appears to be as big a priority to South Africans as food is, says Kantar, the world’s biggest consumer research agency.

Stacy Saggers, commercial growth director for Kantar South Africa, said on Thursday that the group’s research had shown that people were “desperate to be online” during load shedding. Even with the “very difficult financial decisions that people are needing to make” to cope in a struggling economy, they were still choosing to use data, which in SA is among the most expensive in the world.

“Online has become the light in our darkness.”

Saggers, who was speaking at a retail and consumer packaged goods event hosted by Google in Melrose Arch, said that the research the group had been conducting into what people did with their time when load shedding occurred had shown that even as people were “literally eating less” to navigate the high inflation environment, they were still prioritising data purchases.

In fact, Kantar’s research conducted in April, showed a 71% net growth in “people spending more time on social media platforms than they did a year ago”.

This comes even as the fast-moving consumer goods grocery basket of 116 key products had shown a decline of 2.7% over same period. The grocery category research was conducted by Kantar World Panel, the research organisation’s shopper panel, which surveys an ongoing panel of 6 500 households in SA.

She said that as opposed to movie streaming sites, where consumers can download movies ahead of load shedding, visits to social media saw people having to consciously decide to consume expensive data to do so.

Saggers said Kantar’s respondent profile was not limited to higher income households and 30% of households earned less than R5 000 a month. A sample of 500 connected South Africans were interviewed for the study.

“So this is not just for the super wealthy. This is the reality for our country. The other thing that people are doing as load shedding increases, is continuing to go on to search (engines) where you have to use data, so they are making the decision to prioritise data.”

Source: news24

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