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Expo is first-rate opportunity for digital tech marketers

In 2007, with its finger squarely on the pulse of digital technology, publishing house ITWeb identified a gap in the market for an expo that would demonstrate the limitless potential of digital technology to South African consumers of digital products and services.
In 2008, the first DigitalLife Expo attracted in excess of 7 500 visitors, representing a wide and diverse audience of digital consumers who came to find out firsthand how digital technology might enhance, change, simplify and improve their everyday lives, and more importantly, how to maximise the potential of digital products and services.

An audience survey has been conducted in the lead-up to DigitalLife Expo 09, which takes place from 27 to 29 March, at the Sandton and it reveals information that will greatly enhance the industry's understanding of the digital consumer market's expectations, needs, desires and intentions.

The online survey polled the opinions and feedback of 4 932 respondents, all of whom have pre-registered and paid for their ticket to explore the ultimate digital lifestyle at the 2009 expo.

ITWeb's events director, Angela Wressell, comments: “The insights we gleaned from this survey have proven invaluable to us as organisers, and have been applied to improve the expo in ways that will be meaningful to our visitors. The results are naturally also extremely relevant to DigitalLife Expo 09 exhibitors, and if properly applied by these marketers, will greatly enhance the benefits they derive from their participation in the expo.”

So what does the survey tell digital product and service providers about the consumers who visit the DigitalLife Expo?

The survey reveals an audience that is 76% male, mostly between the ages of 26-30 (30%), 18-25 (19%) and 31-35 (18%) years and split almost equally into households comprising adults only (55%) and those including adults and children under 18 (44%).

Among this audience, the most important reasons for attending DigitalLife were cited as firstly, to test-drive and evaluate digital products, secondly to preview emerging technology and thirdly, to purchase digital lifestyle products.

Adds Wressell: ”While it's true that most expos attract visitors intent on seeing products firsthand and acquiring the information needed to make educated decisions, this is more significant in the digital technology context, where products and purchasing decisions are a little more complicated than say choosing tiles. DigitalLife visitors really want to learn more about the products they're interested in, to get their hands on the physical object and try it out, and at the end of the day to feel empowered to make an educated purchase decision.

“These results are important because they mirror the major objectives of DigitalLife and in so doing, validate our marketing, our messages and indeed the very foundation of the expo.”

As for the audience's main areas of interest at DigitalLife Expo, it is difficult to pick a clear winner from among the eight areas listed. Respondents were asked to select one or more areas of interest and, apart from the top three, the results were too close to be truly significant beyond third place. So, in order of the number of votes received:

  1. Portable equipment such as laptops, PDAs, cellphones, etc (18%).
  2. PCs and software (15.1%).
  3. Home entertainment, home theatres, entertainment centres, TVs, etc (15%).
  4. Digital photography or movie making (11.1%).
  5. Home networking/small office/home solutions (10.8%).
  6. Games or gaming equipment (10.4%) tied with communications equipment and services (10.4%).
  7. Digital music equipment and services (9.1%).

The significance of the very narrow margins separating the areas of interest represented as points four through seven, is that they indicate an even spread of interest in the majority of the areas on show at the DigitalLife Expo. It's not only possible, but indeed probable, that there will be changes in these figures in 2009, especially if South Africa follows some of the major trends currently sweeping the globe, such as a near fanatical demand for digital music equipment and services.

Wressell explains: “This demand is being driven by several factors, not least of which are Disney's many hugely popular, music-centred TV shows and movies: Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, The Cheetah Girls, Camp Rock and High School Musical - all promoting the belief that anybody and everybody can be a rock star. Add to this the continued worldwide popularity of the Idols reality show, along with the game console phenomena Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and it's easy to see why South Africa will in all likelihood be swept along by this tide.

“Another cold that South Africa is likely to catch is the renewed enthusiasm for digital photography and movie making, being fuelled in part by online collaboration and social networking, as well as by the ever more advanced yet increasingly user-friendly products available to consumers. While lack of bandwidth will undoubtedly mean we won't experience this trend as a phenomenon quite yet, you can be sure it's coming nevertheless.”

The audience also had budgets in mind in order to make these purchases. About 20% were prepared to spend between R5 001 and R10 000, while 12% had a budget of between R4 001 and R5 000 in mind, and 11% were prepared to spend between R1 001 and R2 000.

Of particular interest is the audience's response to the question of their comfort level in making a consumer electronics purchase decision. The results indicate a good spread of consumers who are very comfortable, understand the technology and know what they want (38%) and those who, while they don't feel totally comfortable, are nevertheless confident they will get the information they need in order to make an informed decision (53%).

Concludes Wressell: “Of special relevance to marketing teams is the fact that 54% of respondents heard about DigitalLife Expo via e-mail or e-newsletter, 23.6% learned about it via our Web site and a very significant 12% heard about it via word of mouth. It seems that people are talking about DigitalLife!”

With a survey response from 4 932 consumers, the results are a marketer's dream - an interested, engaged, committed and soon-to-be captive audience of people intent on finding ways in which digital technology might enhance their lives.

Research can be viewed at www.digitallife.co.za.

3 Feb 2009 01:15

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