SA mobile subscribers loyal to networks says study

South African mobile subscribers loyal to networks and prefee Nokia handsets, according to Nielsen's Mobile Insights report


South Africa’s mobile phone consumers are overwhelmingly loyal to their network providers, with 95 per cent having been with their current provider for an average of 4.2 years. What’s more, 81 per cent said they recommend their network providers to friends and family, reinforcing the importance of word-of-mouth and reputation in the mobile industry. These and other findings were released today as part of Nielsen’s inaugural Mobile Insights syndicated study in South Africa, which examined consumers’ usage of and attitudes towards mobile phones, networks and services.

While they may be inclined to remain loyal, a quarter of subscribers indicated that they could switch from pre-paid to contract packages within the next year. More than one quarter (27 per cent) said they left their previous provider due to poor network quality. Subscribers across all four of the major networks were generally content with staying with them, although those using Virgin Mobile were happiest.

“The mobile market continues to morph into an increasingly complex ecosystem of voice, text, video, Internet, games, applications and audio, and it is critical for industry players to have access to independent metrics to analyze and respond to the new, ‘always connected’ consumer,” said Jan Hutton, Director Telecoms, Nielsen Southern Africa.

Nokia is the handset brand of choice for more than half (52 per cent) of respondents, followed by Samsung and Blackberry. Even those subscribers (56 per cent) who currently use other brands said that a Nokia handset is likely to be their next purchase.

How are Consumers Using their Phones?

Today’s smartphones and feature phones offer users a range of functions. When asked about the mobile media services accessed from the devices, the majority (21 per cent) said they download ringtones and almost an equal number (20 per cent) download music tracks. The balance of subscribers said they download wallpapers, screensavers and pictures. A very small per centage stream online radio or watch video mobile TV.

Accessing the Internet from mobiles is also picking up steam, with 11 per cent of respondents having done so. The highest mobile internet usage recorded among consumers aged 25-34 years old with 35-44 year olds coming in a close second. The youth group of 19-24 years of age, who are growing up with the internet, spend a number of hours online per week. One-quarter of those surveyed in LSM 8-10 said they browse the Internet while just 6 per cent of those in LSM 1-5 have done so.

It is interesting to note 69 per cent of men and women prefer sending SMS/texts as it is cheaper than calling and 10 per cent firmly believe it is faster to text than call.

Other key findings from Nielsen’s Mobile Insights study include:


  • · Spaza store is the most popular channel for consumers to buy mobile “air time”, followed by
  • Supermarkets/Grocers.
  • · Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by mobile phone subscribers
  • (85 per cent), followed by MXIT (61 per cent).
  • · 21 per cent of people aware of mobile banking make use of these services.
  • · With Cell C, MTN and Vodacom, the majority of subscribers consider price to be the most
  • important driver, whereas with Virgin Mobile, customer service is the driver.

“These and the other findings present a comprehensive benchmark against which we can measure the changes occurring in the rapidly evolving telecom sector going forward. It’s the only survey of its kind in the country that provides a 360 degree view of the sector in terms of what services consumers are using, how they feel about their network providers and handset manufacturers. Furthermore, in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association, we are [among] the first to gauge the effectiveness of mobile advertising and providing marketers with accurate data and insight with respect to ROI in this medium,” said Hutton.

twn Are you sure that you want to switch to desktop version?