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Busting the gaming stereotype

South Africa’s gamers are educated, healthy, well-off and lives life to the full, writes RACHEL THOMPSON, Insights Director at GfK SA

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Perceptions that gamers are predominantly young, geeky, and male persist, despite the reality that playing videogames has become mainstream.

Our consumer research at GfK shows that playing games today spans generations and genders. Today, most people in the mid and upper LSMs play games at least sometimes, with around 72% of Internet-connected South Africans playing games across their devices at least once a month.

Our GfK Consumer Life* study – surveying 1,000 South African consumers who are representative of the online population – indicates that the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices is the catalyst for the mainstream gaming explosion. Some 54% of the respondent base are playing from mobile phones. Around a fifth (20%) own a dedicated gaming console.

The data reveals that 12% of these connected consumers own a gaming console and play games every week, while 6% play every day. Daily gamers are more likely to be members of Generation Z, but there are significant numbers of older daily gamers, too.

Regular gamers are more likely to live in high-income households and to have a good education – 30% of daily gamers are LSM 10 and 23% have a university degree. While half of regular gamers work full time, the more frequent daily gamers are more likely to be students (30%) or unemployed (20%).

The profile of the gamer is that of a person living life to the full – regular gamers are more likely than the average online South African to socialise, exercise, play sport, go to gym, and shop online. They are also more likely to stream online movies and drink alcohol. Consider that 49% of daily gamers use vitamin and mineral supplements compared to 39% of online South Africans, for example, and that 82% of daily gamers exercise to look their best (all online consumers – 71%).

What’s more, 69% prefer to buy fewer higher quality items (all online consumers – 49%), 56% pamper themselves regularly (all online consumers – 44%), and 72% reflect their individuality through what they buy and wear (all online consumers – 48%). This no doubt reflects the fact that gamers are often from higher income households than the average and that many are students who have time on their hands. However, it does dispel the myth that they focus on their gaming hobby to the exclusion of real life.

Compared to the typical South African, gamers also have a progressive outlook on technology adoption. Some 60% of daily gamers describe themselves as ‘passionate about technology’ and 80% planned to purchase home electronics in the next twelve months at the time they were surveyed. Compared to just 43% of all online consumers in South Africa, 65% said they had knowledge and experience of technology. They are also more likely to purchase online (85% vs 68%).

All of these stats paint a picture of the avid gamer as an adventurous person who treasures their freedom and individuality. They understand the power of tech to elevate their individualism and they are looking for products that are tailored to their personal needs.

So, what does this mean for brands seeking to tap into the spending power of this leading-edge consumer segment?

1. Bring reality into a game

For increased engagement, take advantage of the blurring between games and reality. Interactivity and gamification offer ways to break through to this audience. Microsoft, for instance, is planning to launch Minecraft Earth, a mobile augmented version of its popular game. It will allow players to build and place their creations in the physical environment around them via augmented reality.

2. Let them embark on their own quest

Rather than funneling them down a customer journey, enable them to discover and curate their perfect personal experience. Some 57% of daily gamers spend a lot of time researching brands; what’s more they understand the power of tech to elevate their individualism. They are looking for products that are tailored to their personal needs. But it must be on their terms, not the brand’s.

Xbox, as an example, enabled gamers to design customised controllers on its website, then came up with the idea of letting them earn a commission for each of their creations that was sold to other fans. This ‘fanchise’ model boosted sales of custom-design controllers because creators started to think strategically and creatively about ideas that would appeal to other people as well as to promote them via their own social media accounts.

3. Be edgy

Keep consumer engagements unique, customised and edgy and then allow gamers to reveal their story and lead mass adoption of new offerings. Stuffy corporate press releases and press conferences are not the way to get to this audience. As gaming console companies like Nintendo and Sony show, this segment appreciates fun, creative experiences like live video streams that connect them directly to the source of the info.  

*GfK Consumer Life is a global data and insight service that provides a view on how consumers’ everyday lives are evolving. It provides access to what people think, and what people do on a global, regional, local or micro level.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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