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Changing Habits & Breaking Social Boundaries in Cape Town

February 2014

By Hanni Heinrich, Cape Town

South Africa has finally joined the digital fold, embracing consumers’ daily needs. Despite low income and limited infrastructure, the Internet allows everyone to stay in touch with family and friends. Smartphones have become a must, as they are the way to communicate and exchange information these days. In the City of Cape Town-- where it is important to be trendy—it’s a habit to communicate and sort out errands via smartphone.

And that is easy to do, as most of the coffee shops in Cape Town city center offer WiFi, as enjoying coffee with your Internet is in. The connectivity allows smartphone users to process data for free and keep costs low. Internet services require proof of liquid funds and hefty deposit fees, and coupled with an incomplete infrastructure, connectivity can come with an unreasonable (500 ZAR/ 45 USD) price tag. Since socialization is big in South Africa, and we often spend time in coffee shops, the unlimited cap on WiFi-enabled data makes sense.

Fans can also join in on the buzz around their hometown being named World Design Capital 2014 on social media to show local support.

South Africa was a Blackberry country merely four years ago, but their services don’t hold a candle to the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy. Smartphones are making waves not only in South Africa, but across the entire continent. According to consulting firm Gartner, South African smartphone penetration is expected to reach 80% by 2014, with Vodacom and MTN as the biggest cellular network provider in the country. Social networking is the number-one online activity on smartphones, followed by email and music videos. Also E-commerce is growing slowly alongside online shopping. Online shopping is still in its fledgling stages here in Cape Town, however.

The city’s inhabitants have eagerly awaited a reliable, safe and clean transport system. It’s been a long time coming, but here we always say it’s better late than never! Prior to the 2011 rollout of the MyCiTi bus, sitting like sardines in a cramped minibus taxi, waiting long hours for the train (only to find it canceled), or spending a fortune on meter cabs was the norm.

As far as shifts in local attiudes go, the cultural impact is heavy: it’s considered fancy to meet up in the MyCiti Bus to talk, network, exchange pictures, send WhatsApp messages, or listen to music via a mobile device. And that’s important to low-income consumers.

Besides the new bus service, South African health insurance company Discovery offers rental bikes - for example to ride along the Seapoint promenade. Going green and the awareness of environmentally friendly transport in Cape Town is popular and, slowly but surely, more and more citizens support a lifestyle that brings the people of the rainbow nation together. It’s as though being mutually aware of the environment crosses socio-economic borders and helps consumers with a common goal. And in the case of the bike rental bikes—at a low price.

But the city still has its share of car-lovers. South Africa's automotive industry is known to be a global, turbo-charged engine for the manufacture and export of vehicles and components.If you look closely on the roads, you can see that the VW Citi Golf is still the beloved car amongst youngsters.

On South Africa’s roads, it is visible that Hyundai is the fastest growing automotive company. It is an affordable, yet robust car that offers sporty designs. Based on these key features, it was also the brand that ran the strongest integrated sports marketing campaign for South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “New thinking, new possibilities” is Hyundai’s Motto in South Africa, and it’s a phrase that resonates with the newly emerging middle class. Hungry to make a progress in South Africa since becoming a full democracy in 1994, this sector of consumers is served by brands like Hyundai, whose product is affordable, well-constructed, reliable and communicates to a new, integrated South Africa.

Consumer Electronics
Cape Town
Coffee shops are Cape Towners favorite spots to connect on and offline
The MyCiTi bus offers Cape Towners safe, reliable public transport and a new place to socialize
Hyundai models are popular amongst South Africa's emerging middle class

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