Digital natives, people between the ages of 18 and 24 who grew up with the Internet, interact more with retailers via social media than anyone else, according to a PwC survey released on Tuesday.
Digital natives would be important in how shopping changed, both in-store and online, in future, associate director of customer impact and digital transformation Peter Hoijtink told reporters in Johannesburg.
An important aspect of this was their relationship with retailers and social media.
Social media was essential to digital natives and they rapidly adapted to new technologies, he said. The cellphone was an important tool in this interaction, meaning retailers needed to adapt to an ever-changing consumer base.
“The mobile phone is one, and over the coming years, it will become more important,” said Hoijtink.
“So many of the new technologies coming into digital, there is huge potential for change. If a retailer doesn’t use mobile for the potential it is, they are in trouble. Consumers go their own way. It’s very difficult to point them into a certain direction.”
According to the survey, 63% of digital natives followed some of their favourite brands or retailers on social media, versus 43% of everyone else.
A total of 47% discovered brands they did not know, or had developed a particular interest in a brand, through social media, compared to 31% of everyone else.
It was projected that in 2018 there would be 48,4m smartphone users in South Africa, accompanied by 35,3m mobile Internet subscriptions.
There would be an estimated 5,1m activated tablet devices in South Africa, while 2,1m households would have fixed Internet subscriptions.
A total of 89% of South African survey respondents said they interacted with their favourite brands on social media as part of their shopping experience.
Facebook was the most used at 69%, followed by Google/Google+ (47%), YouTube (25%), Twitter (22%), and WhatsApp (16%). Pinterest and LinkedIn came next at 10% each.
Hoijtink said South Africa had traditionally copied Western trends, but the influence of Asian countries could now be seen in the relationship between online shopping and social media.
Western countries used social media mainly for marketing online shopping. In China, social media was used regularly for shopping itself.
“I think we [South Africa] have a bit of both, somewhere in the middle, but I think we will see more purchasing via social media,” he said.
The online survey, called “Total Retail: Retailers and the Age of Disruption”, involved more than 19 000 respondents, with around a thousand from South Africa. — Sapa