Consumers in South Africa, have a distinctly ‘new world’ view and are far more inclined to try new products, a new Nielsen Global Survey on product innovation has found. The research revealed 51% of respondents in South Africa said they purchased a new product during their last grocery shopping trip.
The study also found that nine of the eleven markets with the highest percentage of early adopters (based on new product purchase sentiment) are developing countries. South Africa recorded 28%, as compared with markets like Brazil (39%), Peru (30%) and Israel (30%).
“Early adopters are an important segment for manufacturers for several reasons. They serve as product testers, providing feedback and suggestions for improvement and they’re often opinion leaders, who can be powerful allies in spreading the word about new products,” said Nielsen Africa marketing and communication director, Ailsa Wingfield.
“Developing countries like South Africa are therefore attractive markets for new product expansion efforts, due to their younger demographic composition, rising middle class population and strong appetite for affordable luxuries.”
Those categorised as ‘early adopters’ only show a slight age bias. “Early adopters aren’t just younger consumers,” says Wingfield. “Consumers of all ages are looking for products that make their lives better, and they can be passionate advocates if they find a product that fills a need. While Millennials are garnering a fair amount of recent time and attention, it’s would be useful to consider casting the net wider, and not lose site of the needs across all age segments.”
Brand competition is intense and shelves are crowded. The harsh reality is that the vast majority of new product introductions are taken out of distribution before the end of their launch year. Within this scenario, South African consumers deviate from the global norm when it comes to discovering new products, with the number one tool being “saw it in-store” (59%), followed by “watching a TV ad” (56%) which indicates that there is still a reliance on more traditional methods. Word of mouth also has a role to play with 55% citing a reliance on friends and family to hear about new products.
“These findings show how critical the in-store environment is when launching a new product and the importance of in-store execution and strategic new locations for product distribution. There is a definite opportunity to build awareness as a means of stimulating demand, prior to consumers even getting to the store,” comments Wingfield.
Earned media sources are growing in importance for new product information gathering, but reliance on traditional sources is still strong. Millennials and Generation Z respondents say they use several traditional advertising sources at comparable— or even greater—levels than older generations.
However, while the top list of sources combine a mix of paid, owned and earned media options, Internet-related platforms are three of the top nine sources cited for new product discovery in South Africa, with active Internet searches coming in at 47% and brand/manufacturer web at 18%. Reliance on social media showed the largest increase, rising 11 percentage points from 2012.
Social media usage for new product discovery is in fact particularly high in South Africa, with 31% of local respondents saying they utilise the medium for this purpose. This compared with Latin America at 31%, and 20% of European and 22% of North America respondents.
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