By 12 August 2011 | Categories: news


Global information and measurement company, Nielsen, has conducted a local survey entitled Mobile Insights, which has revealed a number of interesting and even surprising trends in the mobile environment. While these are primarily aimed at helping mobile media companies, mobile networks and mobile handset companies make the right decisions, they reveal a great deal about South Africa’s mobile landscape. The research was based on two thousand respondents, 52% of which were women while 48% were men.

Price is king

In essence, the survey suggested that people are considering their budget and savings more carefully when it comes to mobile usage. While service is undeniably always an important factor to many users, for the majority of Cell C, MTN and Vodacom customers, price is the most important consideration, whereas with Virgin Mobile, the reason for subscriptions emerged as being mainly customer service. The vast majority of prepaid customers (61%) showed no intention of switching to a prepaid contract, while 25% indicated that they might.

Jumping ship

More telling of how satisfied contract customers were with their service provider, was a look into which customers might leave their existing mobile provider in favour of another. Of these, Virgin fared the best, with a sizable 87% indicating they would not switch to another network. This is hardly surprising, considering that Virgin customer cited customer service as their main driver. MTN came second with 71% with Vodacom trailing narrowly behind at 69% of respondents affirming they would not switch. Cell C fared least favourably, with 61% of their customers surveyed indicating they intended to stay with their provider.  

The main driver that pushed users into the arms of another network is surprisingly not price nor service, but rather the quality of the mobile network. However, 14% of users fled their network after some problem with their handset. In case providers thought they didn’t have to worry about word of mouth, the survey indicated that they would be dead wrong. An astonishing 81% said they would recommend their network to others if they were happy with it, meaning that making a good impression on existing customers was paramount.  

Manufacturers on my mind

While its fortunes may have faltered globally, Nokia still seems to be leading the pack in South Africa in terms of which handsets users were considering buying next, with Samsung in second place, according to the survey. BlackBerry received third place of users’ consideration, with LG, Sony Ericsson and Motorola somewhat evenly trailing behind. Again, Nokia still rules the roost in terms of what handsets users are currently using at 52% of respondents, but Samsung has a sizable chunk as well at 25% and BlackBerry receiving third place with 7% of respondents.

Services still vital

In terms of what services subscribers are using on their devices, somewhat predictably Facebook was the most popular service accessed on users’phones, while mobile banking garnered a respectable amount of use as well. More surprisingly, the use of MXit surpassed that of Twitter.  Additionally, both men and women considered SMSing as a means of communication to be equally as valuable as voice communication. However, the majority of both genders resorted to SMSes because of its cheap price, while few cited speed alone as their reason for messaging.

To the point

For mobile networks, the survey seems to point towards the importance of delivering contracts that cater to offering the best price, plentiful SMSs, all this while delivering a stable network and above all, value retaining their customers. They would do well to remember another axiom – the bigger you are, the harder you fall, and, as demonstrated time and again, you are never too big to fall.


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