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Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

Casually controlling your music from your smartphone or checking your security cameras while on holiday has become a part of the pattern of modern life around the world. Borderless Access has done a deep dive into which smart devices people living in sub-Saharan Africa (specifically South Africa and Nigeria) are using and how.
Our respondents were aged between 22 and 74 and evenly matched between the genders. All respondents claimed to own a smartphone, indicating how ubiquitous these devices are in the region and globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa mirrors global smart trends

In sub-Saharan Africa, like elsewhere in the world, the most popular smart devices after smartphones, are TVs and speakers (such as Sonos, Google’s Nest or Amazon’s Echo). Globally the third most popular category is smart lights, while smart security and cameras appeal to South Africans, and Nigerians are interested in smart fridges. Across the board, smart blinds and smart thermostats hold the least appeal.

Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

Eye on the prize

Globally, 35% of respondents say that the next smart purchase they’ll make is a smart security system. Such a system was even more popular among Nigerians with 49% of people saying they’d like to purchase one. Surprisingly, South Africans were interested in smart fridges and lights above a security system, with only a quarter of people interested in buying one.

Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

How we use our smart devices

South Africans and Nigerians mimic their global peers in that the most popular uses for their smart devices are listening to music, watching videos and checking their home security systems. (Elsewhere in the world people use smart lighting as much as they watch videos on a smart device.)

All the benefits of a voice-based assistant (such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant) and a smart hub (such as Google’s Nest or Samsung’s SmartThings) have yet to be fully utilised proving that, worldwide, we are only now stepping off the starting blocks when it comes to appreciating the possibilities that smart technology offers.

Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

Creating fully connected smart homes

Creating a smart home - where all your smart devices are connected and controlled through a central point like your phone or a tablet - is an ambition for most people. Half of all people surveyed (again sub-Saharan Africans follow global trends) say they already have a smart home or are working on creating one. Such a home will enable you, for example, to switch the oven on, close the blinds, set the music and even switch on a gas fireplace before you arrive home.

The opportunities for product developers and brands in this arena are vast.

Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

Learning points

Only a quarter of South Africans surveyed - 10% lower than the global average - were interested in purchasing a home security system. In a country with a noted crime problem we could assume that more people would be interested in such a system, especially since only 32% of people already own one. Perhaps these smart security products aren’t being actively marketed in South Africa or the price barriers may be too steep?

Around a third of people worldwide, and even fewer in sub-Saharan Africa, make use of voice-based smart assistants. Similarly, only 17% of global respondents use a smart hub to control all their smart devices (a greater proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa do the same). This represents a huge, untapped market of people who are probably unaware of the services these devices offer. More widespread marketing of their functions and benefits will surely inspire potential customers.

This correlates with our findings that show that 97% of people around the world that have purchased a smart hub are either satisfied or very happy with their purchase.

Smart thinking in sub-Saharan Africa

For more information on how you can access our smart panels to uncover insights in your industry, please visit Borderless Access or contact Bev Tigar-Bassett - AVP, Business Development, South Africa | Borderless Access, moc.sseccasselredrob@ragit.veb, +27 79 572 6233.

Borderless Access
Borderless Access is an award-winning digital market research product and solutions company. We fulfil the dynamic and multi-dimensional research demands of our global clientele with our technology-enabled insights solutions and first-party hyper-niche digital audiences.

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