[2022 UPDATE] How the internet changed buyer behaviour

Posted by Lauren Lokker

Buyers are becoming more sophisticated, and understanding consumer behaviour is the key to a successful marketing and sales strategy. Here’s some key insights into internet, mobile, and social media usage in 2022.

The rise of the internet has turned the traditional path to purchase on its head, as buyers are becoming increasingly well-informed. The modern consumer sees straight through traditional push-marketing tactics, and has much higher expectations when it comes to your brand’s value proposition. This, coupled with the fact that we are online more this year than ever due to the pandemic, means that your online presence is vital to your company’s success. 

Global Internet Usage

According to Live Internet Stats, Google receives over 100,721 searches per second on any given day and research from Oberlo shows the fun fact that around 16.3 percent of Google's organic traffic in the US comes from people Googling the term “Google.”

Here’s a look at some of the stats from 2022  We Are Social state of digital global report :

2022 Digital growth

2022 Daily time spent with media

2022 device ownership

Mobile phones are being used by more than two-thirds of the world's population (67.1 percent). Over the last year, the global total has grown by 1.8 percent with 95 million new mobile users (use essential digital headlines). 

What sets the modern buyer apart from other consumers throughout history, is the amount of research that they can (and do) perform before making a purchase. The internet has provided the means to perform thorough product research, in the form of content such as customer testimonials, online product demonstrations, and reviews. Here are some interesting insights We Are Social believe are unique to 2022:

  • Global internet users have climbed to 4.95 billion at the start of 2022, with internet penetration now standing at 62.5 percent of the world’s total population. Data shows that internet users have grown by 192 million (+4.0 percent) over the past year, but ongoing restrictions to research and reporting due to COVID-19 mean that actual growth trends may be considerably higher than these figures suggest.
  • Global social media users: There are 4.62 billion social media users around the world in January 2022. This figure is equal to 58.4 percent of the world’s total population, although it’s worth noting that social media “users” may not represent unique individuals (learn why). Global social media users have grown by more than 10 percent over the past 12 months, with 424 million new users starting their social media journey during 2022

How the internet has influenced buying behaviour across the generations:

Each generation has its own level of adoption in using the internet. Generation Y are digital natives, and grew up with the internet and social media. As a result, they’re more likely to turn to their peers for advice (using forums like Quora) when it comes to making a purchase decision. But 2022 will see more Generation Z coming into the buying space. 

HubSpot recently published a post that featured key insights into the Generation Z online behaviour:

HubSpot recently published a post that featured key insights into the Generation Z online behavior:

  • The generation has an estimated purchasing power of 44 billion annually. (LinkedIn)
  • 48% of Gen Z identifies as racially or ethnically diverse. (Pew Research Center)
  • As of 2020, Gen Z makes up more than 40% of U.S. consumers. (Fast Company)
  • 66% of Gen Z reports using more than one internet-connected device at a time. (Institute of Business Management)
  • In the U.K., Gen Z spends an average of 10.6 hours online each day. (Adobe)
  • Roughly 75% of Gen Z most frequently uses a smartphone over computers and other devices. (Institute of Business Management)
  • Most Gen Zers (73%) use their internet-connected devices to communicate with friends or family. Meanwhile, 59% and 58% also use them for entertainment and gaming respectively. (Institute of Business Management)

WeAreSocial says, “Gen Z are expecting more intimate communication with brands and people they shop with on social." 

  • One in four Gen Z women says they learn about new products from social media influencers. (Morning Consult)

88% of Gen Z prefers omnichannel branded experiences, while 54% say social media influences them most. (CMO Council)


You might also like our article, The story of a Gen-Xer in a sea of Millennials, by our strategic director, Alison Leishman.


Here’s a look at the state of internet usage in South Africa, in 2022

You’ll notice that South African internet usage (especially in the mobile sector) is growing rapidly year on year. And looking at the data holistically, we can see that usage in South Africa comes in relatively close in relation to international internet usage.

An analysis by Kepios indicates that south African internet users increased by 494 thousand between 2021 and 2022. 

In fact, the report shows that there were 28.00 million social media users in South Africa in January 2022.

2022 daily time spent using social media

2022 daily time spent using the internet

Researching how to do things has become the second most reason for using the internet in 2022. The report shows that finding new ideas and inspiration is 72.8% and the third top reason for using the internet.

2022 main reason for using the internet

How social media has influenced buying behaviour:

These changes in buyer behaviour have created the necessity for brands to give the traditional marketing model a major overhaul in order to remain relevant in today’s marketplace.

Inbound marketing is a response to the need for marketing and sales to connect with a new generation of sophisticated buyers. The inbound methodology focuses on putting the customer at the centre of your flywheel and helps brands to adapt to a new marketplace (where consumers are in control of their buyer’s journey), successfully building lasting relationships with their ideal customers.

If you’d like to find out more about inbound marketing, and how it will help your business overcome the challenges of the digital marketing landscape, you can read MD, Darren Leishman’s article, How to do better inbound marketing in a tough economy.

You can access the full Digital in 2022 Global Overview Report online if you’d like to see how South Africa compares to other countries from around the globe.

Ensure you're speaking to the right people on the right platforms across the internet and start understanding how your business can change with the internet with our Inbound Touchpoint e-book.

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  Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash