Generation Y in South Africa – A Short Study

Over the last month we ran a small study on Generation Y in South Africa. We interviewed 144 students with an average age of 18 years old. The gender split was 60% female and 40% male. As the size of the sample group is relativley small this can’t be seen as the final word but rather as an indication of what is taking place with Generation Y in South Africa.

Small-Study-on-Generation-Y-in-South-AfricaThe findings were quite interesting and echoed many generalizations about generation Y.

In South Africa, Generation Y uses digital platforms for communication and prefer Facebook and BBM over any other communication tool. Email continues to lose its effectiveness as a communication vehicle with this generation.

Google is starting to lose search market share to Facebook as 50% of Gen Y chooses to use Facebook as a search engine over Google.

Although MXit is popular it’s loyalty is much lower (less than one hour a day) than Facebook (up to five hours per day).

When given the choice Gen Y chose the internet over magazines, their cellphone over the internet and tertiary education over their cell phone. They are also a healthy bunch of individuals choosing healthy food over junk food, restaurants over fast food and bottled water over fizzy drinks.

Here is a list of some of our findings

Use of the internet

  • 85% have an email address, but only half check it more than once a month
  • 99% use the internet – most about 2 hours a day
  • They do not regard facebook as the internet
  • 73% access the internet on their phone (even though over 90% have the internet at home)
  • 11% watch webinars / webisodes (online seminars / online episodes)
  • 91% use facebook; 30% use twitter
  • 69% have a Mxit account – but most only check it for less than an hour a day
  • 60% watch YouTube (funnies & music videos firstly and also instructional videos
  • 50% use Google as a Search Engine – 50% use facebook

Use of Non-Digital Media

  • 91% listen to the radio (during drive time) and all of those claim to listen to 5fm, but then also mention other stations – no loyalty
  • 64% read books
  • 42% read the newspaper
  • 73% read magazines (Female – fashion & gossip (Heat Magazine and You Magazine), Male – sports and Men’s Health)
  • 85% go to the cinema – primarily the evening show
  • 64% watching DSTV (in the evening)

Facebook and Social Media

  • They do not regard facebook as the internet
  • 60% spend more than 5hrs a day on facebook
  • 84% use facebook to send messages rather than email
  • Prefer facebook over twitter
  • 50% use facebook as a search engine (other 50% use Google)
  • Watch on YouTube – Funny & Music Videos and then How To /Instructional videos
  • Very few read blogs, 2 write their own
  • 69% have a Mxit account – but most either don’t use it, or only check it for less than an hour a day
  • Other social networks used – BBM & Skype


  • Internet over magazines
  • Healthy food over junk food
  • Tertiary education over getting a job
  • Own music over radio
  • Medical aid over funeral policy
  • Bottled water over fizzy drinks
  • Restaurant over fast food
  • Facebook over Mxit
  • Cellphone over internet (100%)
  • Tertiary education over cellphone
  • Social media over emails (98%)

21 thoughts on “Generation Y in South Africa – A Short Study

  1. Pingback: Short Study: Generation Y in South Africa | TomorrowToday

  2. Justin Bodill

    Hey Mike

    Awesome research…like the use of some interesting questions there…

    Yielded some very useful insights indeed.


    1. Mike Saunders

      Hi Heidi

      When you seach Facebook it searched all the business and personal profiles on Facebook.

      In additional it also runs an internet search using Microsofts search engine Bing. These are normally displayed below the results of the FB pages.

      Check it out by running a “google type” search inside FB.


  3. Ray

    Hi there very insightful I would have loved if the survey also focused on the rural youth I wonder what will the results be like?

  4. sandi

    Hi Mike,
    An interesting survey… would like to know what tertiary education over cellphone means please
    Many thanks

  5. Veneto

    My, my, my … how young I feel. I’m 44 years old and the findings fit me like a glove. Maybe the findings have less to do with age or generation and more with …. the age we live in?

  6. Michael

    Thanks Mike – interesting research and findings. Please confirm that Gen Y is the generation after the Millenium Generation. From your findings it seems that South Africa, at least Urban SA, is no longer on average 20 years behind the US and UK in terms of the generations. SA’s Gen Y seem to be following the rest of the world’s Gen Y’s quite closely.

    Cheers, m

    1. Mike Saunders Post author

      Hi Mike

      This is definitely the case, with the global mindset if Generation Y we see the gap between the local and international Generations getting smaller.


  7. Pingback: School 2.0 in SA - School 2.0 Bookmarks (weekly)

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