Google and Kantar release ‘Journey to Digital’ research to shed light onto Pakistan’s online behaviours

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new study has shown that Pakistan’s internet population is now at 54% in 2021 with almost half accessing the internet everyday E-commerce fuels online economy and over a third of Pakistan’s internet users have bought online at least once

Today, for the first time, Google and Kantar shared new research about the digital population in Pakistan. The “Journey to Digital” research outlines how Pakistanis consume the internet and spend their time on digital. The research consisted of 2 stages, comprising 4135 interviews with Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.

Key findings of the research:

  • Pakistan’s internet penetration in 2021 is 54%
  • Of these, 76% of Pakistani’s are connected to the internet in the top 3 metros (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi / Islamabad)
  • Overall, 66% of internet users are based in urban areas while 47% are based on rural areas
  • 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day
  • Males, Gen Z and employees are significantly more likely to be connecting to the internet.
  • Young males are early adopters, accessing the internet more than any other group. They are also keener to try new things, and need the internet for education and work.
  • Non-internet users have no means to access the internet and are limited by two key factors:
  • Majority of non-internet users simply don’t have the means to access the internet. They know about the internet but they can’t get onto it because they don’t have an internet enabled device or a reliable internet connection.
  • The second barrier is familiarity—though Pakistan is familiar with the internet as a concept, their understanding is limited. Non-internet users don’t fully understand the potential of the internet, or what it could offer.
  • Internet usage surged due to COVID19
  • Before the lockdown, 79% of internet users in urban locations accessed the internet daily, which increased by 10% since lockdowns.
  • Google Search and YouTube are among the most used apps in Pakistan
  • YouTube, used by nearly 90% of all internet users, is the most popular app in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% Pakistan internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey.
  • Google Search is one of top 5 apps/websites used in Pakistan and is widely used when researching and purchasing products online as well as travel, for information needs and even entertainment
  • eCommerce is a growth opportunity within Pakistan
  • One third of all internet users in Pakistan have made a purchase online and one fourth of these shoppers have increased their spending during COVID19 lockdowns
  • The reasons for turning to e-commerce are manifold. 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy while 66% find it convenient. 54% agree that online shopping websites or apps give personalized product recommendations, which is a common ask from shoppers.
  • Currently, penetration is limited, and purchases are mainly driven by food and clothing categories. However, 66% of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward, and two thirds of Pakistan online shoppers believe that they will buy products or services online post COVID19.

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google explained, “With half of its population on the internet – Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviors that show how COVID is impacting online behavior and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.”

“More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses – if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace. Trust is also crucial, so helping customers gain confidence by showing them how easy, convenient and personal the e-shopping experience will be critical to continuing the upward rise of eCommerce in Pakistan”, Leah Westwood, Client Manager, Kantar added.

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