So what has changed in the last decade?

An analysis of the last 10 years of Amps reveals how the population has changed.

During October 2013, the South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf) released the latest All Media and Products Survey (Amps) 2013A, which covers the fieldwork period of June 2012 to July 2013. This is significant because it reflects mid-year 2013 population updates that incorporate the StatsSA 2011 Census results, rather than the 2001 Census.

Although not comparable to what we had before because its based on the newer Census, it shows that the population of adults, aged 15 and older, has increased by 6.5% or 2.279 million from 34.9 million to 37.2 million. That is around a 0.6% increase per year. We can compare the percentage share of various demographic groups and consumption of products or services.

The increases shown by individual publications or radio or TV stations are very important. It should be read in the context of the population having grown at 6.5%. So, any increase – say in magazines – that shows less than a 6.5% increase in circulation or income, means it is growing at a slower rate than the population.

  • The table accompanying the article looks at four Amps periods over the past decade. It looks at 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2013. Here’s a snapshot of what has happened to the South African consumer over the past decade:
  • Population age: The percentage of people in the 16 to 24 age group has dropped from 27% to 24% of the population. This means the main age groups are stabilising to 25% each.
  • Urbanisation: Metropolitan areas have increased in share from 33.6% to 40.2%. This means there is a visible move towards urbanisation, which has huge implications for new markets being exposed to urban-focused brands.
  • Race changes are more subtle, with increases in the black and coloured populations, while Indian populations are static and the number of whites is decreasing.
  • LSMs: As much as they are controversial and often misused, they show a healthy view on living standards. LSM 1 to 4 shows a dramatic drop in favour of the emerging LSM 5 to 7 (largest at 53%) and established LSM 8 to10. This is probably a result of urbanisation, improvement of full-time work, matric, reading and understanding English, a drop in crime and increase in tertiary education.
  • Home ownership has grown, from 79 to 81%. This has potentially resulted in an increase in home appliances.
  • Occupation: The percentage of those working as farm and domestic workers has halved. Teachers have remained static. Public sector workers have declined in favour of either semi-public sector or the private sector.
  • Spending: Interesting changes pre- and post-global recession, looking at how local and international air travel peaked in 2007 and dropped back to 2003 levels in 2013. The same pattern exists for those who own, use or maintain a motor vehicle, with credit cards or bought jewellery worth R500 or more. So the combined effect of the National Credit Act and recession has shown some frugality in the mid-upper income market.
  • Technology has undoubtedly shown the biggest changes over past decade. There are far more cellphones, as ownership of a mobile phone has increased from 30% to 86%. Internet access is up from 4% to 24% and MultiChoice subscriptions are up from 5% to 25%.
  • Fast food monthly visitors show a huge increase from 19% to 34% as the multinational chains enter South Africa.
  • Grocery shopping has certainly moved from weekly to monthly bulk shopping, which ties in with the huge increase in fridge and freezer ownership.
  • On a lighter note, it’s certainly evident that music taste evolves over time, with Afrikaans, kwaito, rock/pop and gospel dropping and rap/hip hop and house music showing big increases.

To conclude, despite the negativity of crime, corruption, poverty, education and income distribution, it’s good to see how over the past decade there has been some movement to a more prosperous population.

Although discretionary spending on more luxury items counteracts this, retail patterns have certainly eased off in the last five years. It would be interesting to find out what will dominate the next decade. With the controversy of future funding of Saarf and the critical need of the Amps survey to give us consistent measurement of these developments, we certainly hope there will still be an Amps (or an equivalent) around in 2023 to measure these trends.

amps table

The Advertising Media Forum (AMF) contributes a monthly column to The Media magazine looking at issues affecting the media agency industry.

This month’s Advertising Media Forum columnist is Richard Proctor, managing director of Vizeum, Johannesburg.

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