Cellphone users are helping to drive Web 2.0 technologies into households, with MXit helping to double Facebook usage among South Africans.
This is one of the findings of the Digital Lifestyle Predictor, a study conducted by BMI-TechKnowledge into the digital lifestyles of South African consumers, who live in mid- to high-income households (above R8000 household income), was the first major study of its kind to be done in the major metros of South Africa.
Respondents in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban were interviewed about their internet activities, cellular activities, digital goods, and brand attitudes, to name a few, providing new depths of insight into consumer digital trends.
“From the results of the study we have found that in the major metros of South Africa, amongst consumers in households with at least R8 000.00 household income, MXit has almost double the usage of Facebook, driven by the low penetration of computers and the high penetration of cell phones in the market,” says Ryan Smit, BMI-TechKnowledge analyst. “More than half of IM users in the 16-24 age bracket use IM every day and mobile IM has more than doubled in usage in the past 12 months, the majority of which is believed to be on the MXit platform.”
The study has introduced a new classification method, the Digital Lifestyle Measure or DLM, which classifies consumer households into groups based on the extent of their digital lifestyles. The DLM is calculated by the number and types of digital goods the consumers have in their homes. Each consumer achieves a points score and is then allocated to one of four groups (DLM 1 – DLM 4), based on where they fit in the distribution of those scores.
Digital goods such as cellphones, computers, flat screen TVs, and digital cameras, amongst many others, were used to score each consumer household, with a greater number of points awarded for less common technologies and vice versa.
Consumers with fewer digital goods than the mean would fit in the DLM 1 and DLM 2 classifications, whilst those above average would be in DLM 3 and DLM 4. The DLM 2 and DLM 3 groups include those either side of the average, within an expected deviation from the mean. Those far below average would be in DLM 1 (low-tech), whilst those far above average would be classified into DLM 4 (high-tech).
Results from the study have also shown that the percentage of registered Facebook users decreases with age, except for the oldest age group who have also taken to the application.
“However, younger users are almost three times more likely to access the site daily,” adds Smit. “Consumers are two to three times more likely to use Facebook if they have internet at home, but around 40% of Facebook users access social networking sites like Facebook on their cellphones.”
BMI-T’s Digital Lifestyle Predictor Study has also revealed that the higher the consumer’s DLM, the earlier they adopted Facebook, whereas other factors such as age and household income did not have the same impact on early adoption. Smit states, “Facebook has become a mass adopted application and not just for the High-Techs: 12% of Low-Tech DLM 1 consumers have registered on Facebook, which can be contrasted to the 2% of DLM 1 consumers that have internet access at home.”
The question is asked whether the DLM is just a complex classification that reflects household income in another guise, but this is not the case. Whilst there is a strong relationship between household income and DLM, there are low-income households in DLM 4, and high-income households in DLM 1!
BMI-T has found that in many instances, the digital lifestyle of consumers has no relationship with household income, but very strong relationships with DLM. DLM reveals the consumers’ attitude towards technical activities such as browsing the internet on their phone, whereas other factors such as household income do not show any strong correlation with this type of activity.
This is an ongoing study, with multiple waves of research being conducted each year. The Digital Lifestyle Predictor Study allows early participants to include their own questions into the survey.