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Social media and SA’s shopping culture

Social media conversations are not only sources of entertainment and information, but are playing a big role in how South African shoppers decide what to buy.

Arthur Goldstuck, the managing director of World Wide Worx, a technology research organisation, said social media had become a key driver of purchasing decisions.

 “It has become one of the major factors convincing people not to buy specific products and services when their peer groups report negative experiences.”

Goldstuck confirms what the recently released PwC total retail survey showed about South African consumers’ online shopping habits.

The global survey was of nearly 23 000 online shoppers in 25 countries, of whom about 1 000 were from South Africa.

It found that 52% of South African shoppers who were surveyed said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media about products influenced how they bought and 49% said they were also influenced by advertisements.

Fifty-seven percent of survey participants said convenience was the main factor considered when they decided to buy online, while 30% said their online purchases were based on the prices of items.

The survey said physical shops remained important because while many people searched online, they preferred to go into shops to make their purchases.

The most popular items bought online were books, music, movies, and video games.

Another global trend was that shoppers were turning more and more to mobile devices to make purchases, with 46% of those in the global survey saying they bought products online with their devices a few times a year.

Goldstuck said South African shoppers were slow on the uptake of online shopping because they were not given an “indisputable value proposition” where pricing and service would make online shopping the obvious choice.

He also said South Africans liked going to malls.

“South Africa has one of the strongest mall cultures in the world, and it will take a very powerful or very clever incentive to wrest that attraction away from the mall.”

Meanwhile, a report released yesterday by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, showed that South African children spent the bulk of their time online on social networks (56%) and email (12%).

The report looks at PC usage in homes where parents have Parental Control - one of the company’s security products. The control module protects against content that is potentially dangerous for children and monitors which sites children access or try to access.

The report said South African children spent 7% of their online time accessing websites that contained information about drugs and alcohol. It said while there was a reduction in children accessing adult-themed websites, this could be explained by children moving their activities to mobile devices including cellphones, which were not dealt with in the report.


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