Why South African millennials are buying more vinyl records online?

When music CDs appeared in the 1990s, they struck what looked like a fatal blow to vinyl records. Naturally, the consequences were felt on South African marketplace bidorbuy.co.za for years to come. The sales of LPs on the site had dwindled to such an extent that the very existence of a separate category devoted to this “dying” format was called into question. By Staff Writer

Then in 2007 the vinyl staged a come-back in the Western world. After some time, the South African market caught on to the trend.

“Our figures show that the sales of LP records on the site began a steady upwards trend a couple of years ago”, says bidorbuy CEO Jaco Jonker. “These days, buyers are five times more likely to put a vinyl into their shopping cart than a digital disc”, he adds.

Between 500 and 800 LPs are sold on bidorbuy in an average week. “Last week, the sales of vinyl records reached a new peak of 1200 units, while less than 200 CDs were sold in the same period”, says Jonker.

No one can quite explain the surge in popularity of vinyl records, which has been called vinyl revival. What is certain is that on bidorbuy.co.za it has resulted in the rise of the number of sellers who are either specialising exclusively in LPs or are diversifying into LPs.

Among the latter are often sellers of various collectible items. For a good reason. There’s no doubt that the vinyl owes at least a part of its newly-found popularity to an increased number of collectors, some of whom are driven by the nostalgia for the way the music was consumed in their youth.

However, many vinyl sellers on bidorbuy point out that it is young people – the population segment referred to as millennials – that constitute the bulk of their buyers. It could be for a number of reasons: because millennials feel that LPs connect them with the past they never experienced, because they consider that LPs have a better audio quality; or because they appreciate the artwork of LP albums. Some point out that the new-found love for vinyl records could be a reaction to ubiquitous downloadable tunes. In any case, there’s no doubt that there is a certain “coolness” factor to big, bulky and beautiful LPs.

The bidorbuy CEO Jaco Jonker says that rock and pop genres account for more than a half of vinyl records purchased on bidorbuy. Most of them are second-hand, though some are still sealed. Buyers are somewhat less likely to go for newly pressed versions of old albums, but vinyl issues of contemporary artists have a decent following.The prices of LP records sold on bidorbuy range from about R10 to over R1000, although it is not unusual for some rare issues to go for more than R5000.

Jonker adds that the vinyl section has proportionally more overseas buyers than many other sections of the site.


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