The holiday season is in full-swing and GeoPoll research experts have again become curious about how consumers are making purchase decisions around the holidays. In years past, GeoPoll has conducted studies, and published reports, on consumer buying behavior surrounding Black Friday. This year, GeoPoll launched another survey to collect insights from consumers across Africa about holiday spending habits, purchase considerations, and Black Friday participation.

This report displays survey respondent feedback from consumers in Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya. Comparisons are made between the preferences and behavior across the countries studied through this year’s survey, as well as 2017 survey results.

Survey Methodology

There were surveys conducted in three, key African markets: Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. The surveys were completed in mid-December through SMS. Gender distribution was roughly equal between males and females. Respondents were spread across all age groups, with an average of 43% aged 35 years old and above.

Black Friday

2017 VS 2018

In 2017, GeoPoll dispatched a survey about Black Friday at this same time of year. Two of the countries surveyed overlapped, as well as two of the questions asked. The following results compare 2017’s survey responses to 2018’s survey responses surrounding Black Friday participation and product purchases.

QUESTION: “Did you shop on Black Friday this year?”




According to the results, significantly more South Africans shopped Black Friday sales than Kenyans in both 2017 and 2018. Not only that, but also South Africans increased in reported participation in Black Friday shopping from 2017 to 2018, yet Kenyans drastically decreased. This shows that Black Friday sales incentivize shopping heavily in South Africa. In Kenya however, Black Friday sales are not as influential to consumer purchasing behavior.

Let’s take a deeper look at the purchases made by these consumers year-over-year during Black Friday. The consumers who did report shopping on Black Friday were asked the following question,

QUESTION: “Select all that apply. Which of the following items did you purchase during the Black Friday sale? 1) Household appliances 2) Beauty accessories 3) Clothing and footwear 4) Electronics and accessories 5) Food items 6) Baby items 7) Other”


SUGGESTED  Gaming in Africa 2024: A GeoPoll Report

black-friday-purchases-2017-vs-2018-kenya black-friday-purchases-2017-vs.-2018-south-africa

As you can see in the above graphs, there were significant shifts in the categories of products purchased most in both South Africa and Kenya. Although the majority of Kenyans did not participate in Black Friday shopping, those who did participate were quite interested in Electronics and technology accessories in both 2017 and 2018.

Trends in the data from the two above charts indicate that shoppers may be most interested in purchasing basic day-to-day items, like food, clothing, and electronics, during Black Friday sales rather than more extravagant items, like beauty accessories.

Also, it interesting to note that South Africans increased their purchases in every category from 2017 to 2018, while Kenyans decreased their purchases in 4 out of 7 categories. According to these results, South Africans seem to be more engaged in Black Friday as a whole. Business Insider confirms this in a recent article that explains that studies have shown that Black Friday has boomed in popularity more in South Africa than any other country in the world.

2018 Black Friday Ghana, Kenya, South Africa

We also examined participation in the 2018 Black Friday sales in Ghana, as well as South Africa and Kenya.

QUESTION: “Have you shopped on Black Friday in previous years?” 



QUESTION: “Did you shop on Black Friday this year?”



As shown above, Ghanaians and Kenyans were not as interested in Black Friday shopping this year or past years, while the majority of South Africans reported shopping on Black Friday both this year and in years past.

When asked why they did not shop on Black Friday, many reported that they were not able due to financial limitations, but in Kenya and Ghana 35% of respondents in each market did not know about the sales—while only 2% of South Africans reported not shopping on Black Friday for that reason.

QUESTION: “Why did you not shop on Black Friday this year?”



Companies targeting Ghana and Kenya for Black Friday sales may benefit from more advertising surrounding the day of sales.

SUGGESTED  Pitfalls: Poorly Executed Market Research

Holiday Spending

In terms of general holiday shopping, whether on Black Friday or not, most respondents (82% on average) prefer shopping for holiday gifts in-stores rather than online.

Interestingly, respondents typically spend the most money on entertaining guests over the holidays, as you can see below.

QUESTION: “What does the majority of your holiday spending go toward? 1) Food and drink for entertaining 2) Gifts for others 3) Gifts for self 4) Travel expenses 5) Socializing” 



This data may indicate that in each of these three markets quality time spent with loved ones is more important to people than gifts during the holidays.

We then looked at the drivers for holiday purchasing for both oneself and others. We compare the results in the below graphs,

QUESTION: “Select all that apply. When shopping for others during the holidays what attribute is most important to you? 1) Price 2) Quality 3) Band name 4) Convenience”

QUESTION: “Select all that apply. When shopping for yourself during the holidays what attribute is most important to you? 1) Price 2) Quality 3) Band name 4) Convenience” 


Holiday shopping South Africa Holiday spending Ghana purchase considerations Kenya

Quality is the primary consideration across all three markets, whether the product is for oneself or others. Out of the three markets, South Africa was the highest price-considering group, which is especially interesting because South Africans have reported much higher interest in Black Friday sales. It is apparent from these findings that South Africans have an affinity for bargains.

Finally, we asked respondents about impulse purchases that they made during holiday shopping to gain insight on how susceptible shoppers are to captivating in-store displays and stumbling upon holiday sales.

QUESTION: “Before holiday shopping for others do you? 1) Plan ahead 2) Plan most & make some impulse purchase 3) Plan some & make some impulse purchases 4) Don’t plan ahead”

QUESTION: “Before holiday shopping for yourself do you? 1) Plan ahead 2) Plan most & make some impulse purchase 3) Plan some & make some impulse purchases 4) Don’t plan ahead”


SUGGESTED  Africa MSME Pulse 2024 Report

holiday-shopping-strategies-south-africa holiday-shopping-strategy-ghana


Whether shopping for others or themselves, the majority of respondents in each of the markets report strictly planning ahead. The majority of respondents do not make impulse purchases when shopping for themselves or others. Although the majority do not make impulse purchases when holiday shopping, there are still quite a few shoppers who are influenced by their impulses while shopping. 8% on average do not plan ahead when they holiday shop for themselves or for others. 17% on average plan some and make some purchases on impulse for both themselves and others. And 19% on average plan most of their gifts ahead of time but do make impulse buys for themselves and others as well.

This information can indicate that stores may benefit more from advertising heavily before the holiday shopping season begins in order to influence purchase considerations in the planning period for holiday shopping. And although most respondents plan ahead, there are still consumers who do make impulse purchases, so in-store displays and pop-up sales may influence purchase decisions.


Overall, GeoPoll has found that South Africans are the most engaged in Black Friday shopping out of South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya, and are the most price-conscious consumers out of the three markets we analyzed.  Holiday shopping is primarily conducted in-stores rather than online. Consumers are planning focused when holiday shopping. And entertaining loved ones is of key importance during the holidays—even more important that gifts.

GeoPoll conducts regular research on consumer behavior, customer satisfaction, and advertising awareness. GeoPoll staff are experts in hard-to-reach areas of the world and can provide assistance through each step in the research process. Contact us today to inquire about your research needs.