M-Culture: Which Marketplaces Overindex in Mobile?
File this under “Things You Never Thought You’d Read 10 Years Ago:” By this time in 2018, more than one-third of consumers worldwide — about 2.6 billion people — will own a smartphone.
Smartphone adoption is skyrocketing, leaving traditional computers (and the conventional web) in the dust. According to data from StatCounter, global web page views on desktop browsers have recently dropped 13 percent to 62 percent. Meanwhile, mobile phone views have grown from 31 percent to 39 percent.
Spending on the mobile web is surging, too. According to PYMNTS, mobile e-commerce is outpacing traditional e-commerce by three to one. Next year, global m-commerce sales will reach $291 billion, nearly triple the sales of just three years ago.
Where is the majority of this growth in mobile adoption, traffic and revenue taking place? Which markets are now home to mobile-savvy consumers? Armed with publicly available information and proprietary data, a clear picture begins to emerge. Some of it’s close to home, but valuable insights and opportunities are also hailing from emerging markets.
With a current buying power of $1.5 trillion, the U.S. Hispanic market is increasingly affluent and influential. It’s also a thriving market for mobile engagement. Hispanics lead the country in adoption of new digital devices, and are considered “power users” of mobile devices by Google research. Nearly half of Hispanic smartphone owners are "mobile dominant" with their online usage — i.e., prefer their smartphones to desktop computers. That’s a significant increase over the 38 percent of non-Hispanics who are mobile dominant.
Time and again, analysts have deemed Hispanics a “mobile first” market. These digital-savvy consumers spend plenty of time and money on the mobile web. Hispanics’ mobile data usage is 16 percent higher than the U.S. average, illustrating more engagement. According to that Google report, Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to buy mobile apps and digital media than non-Hispanics.
Hispanics also access online banking and coupon services via smartphone more often than the non-Hispanic average (for banking: 65 percent vs. 53 percent; for coupons: 25 percent vs. 17 percent). They’re also savvier users of mobile payments. Nearly 25 percent of Hispanics have used a mobile device to pay for an in-store transaction (the U.S. average is 13 percent).
My company MotionPoint localizes websites for many markets, including Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanics. Based on our observations, organizations that engage these consumers via mobile see positive results. One client reported monthly revenue increases of 481 percent after it deployed its Spanish mobile site. This mobile-based revenue now represents more than half of all revenue generated through the company’s Spanish online presence.
Mere weeks after we helped another client launch its Spanish mobile site, the company’s total Spanish site traffic (across desktop and mobile) grew 80 percent. During this time, revenue from Spanish mobile users rose 363 percent. Based on the revenue the Spanish mobile site has already generated, the client projects to generate, in revenue, 379 times its annual cost.
We also see a big opportunity for organizations keen to connect with Chinese Canadians. This increasingly affluent and well-educated market, which currently represents about 5 percent of the country’s current population (going as high as 10 percent in some provinces, according to census data), is poised for massive population growth.
From 2001 to 2011, the Chinese ethnic population in Canada grew by more than 35 percent. A 2013 study suggests that the Chinese Canadian population will explode in several key markets in the next 15 years. Vancouver’s current ethnic Chinese population of 396,000 will rise to 809,000 by 2031. Chinese Canadians will then represent nearly 25 percent of that city’s population.
This market also indexes highly in mobile, according to our research. We manage localized Chinese sites for many major Canadian banks. Based on our analysis, about 40 percent of all traffic coming to these sites hails from smartphones and tablets.
Offering localized experiences for Chinese Canadians gets results. Our exclusive data reveals that Chinese-speaking Canadians prefer localized content to English or French content. They also return more often to localized sites. Pages per visit increase by as much as 69 percent, and some conversion rates rise by 130 percent.
Other industries are also taking note. Software developers are creating smartphone apps for these mobile-savvy residents. In 2013, China Mobile (a state-owned mobile telecom network in China) launched Jego, an app for Chinese ex-pats and businesses. It offers free incoming calls from China, a Chinese-friendly “caller ID” number, and low-priced calling plans to China.
Overall, Canadian mobile traffic is on the rise, too. This year, 51 percent of all Canadian online traffic came from a phone or tablet, comScore recently reported.
Keep an Eye on Emerging Markets
Beyond U.S. and Canadian borders, we’re seeing supercharged smartphone adoption in several key international markets. Last year, China — the world’s No. 1 smartphone market by far — crossed the 500 million mark for active smartphones. Next year, India will have more active smartphones than the United States. By 2018, Indonesia will blast past Japan and Russia to become the world’s fourth-largest market.
One market research firm projects that by this year’s end, “the U.S., Japan and the U.K., which in 2014 were among the top five smartphone growth markets by value, will be knocked out the top 10” by developing markets including India, China and Indonesia, The Telegraph reported.
In three years, the top five global smartphone markets will be:
- China: 704.1 million
- India: 279.2 million
- United States: 220 million
- Indonesia: 103 million
- Russia: 76.4 million
But a “top five” list like this doesn’t tell the full story. For years, emerging markets have adopted smartphones at a higher rate than more mature markets. This trend will continue during the next three years. While mobile adoption will increase in all countries between now and 2018, here are some markets where growth rates will be at their highest:
- Indonesia: +98 percent
- India: +67 percent
- Philippines: +56 percent
- Vietnam: +52 percent
- Nigeria: +48 percent
- Brazil: +48 percent
- Mexico: +46 percent
For comparison, China will see an increase of 23 percent during the same time period, U.S. growth will be 20 percent, and Russia 31 percent.
Naturally, higher quantities of handsets will be sold in large markets (Russia and India), but smaller markets in Southeast Asia are clearly seeing astonishing growth. In Vietnam alone — one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets, with nearly 25 percent audience growth this year alone — nine in 10 adults now own a smartphone.
Latin America is growing, too. Based on our analysis of mobile traffic to sites we’ve localized for e-commerce clients, we’ve seen lots of engagement here. Average order values are quite robust: $143 for Mexico, $195 for Argentina, $186 for Venezuela.
Globally, smartphone engagement is high, too. In a 2014 survey of 14,000 people in 14 countries, most people spend more time consuming media on their mobile devices than they do watching TV. Sixty percent of respondents said they spend “most or all” of their time online on mobile devices. TV isn’t dead, however: 61 percent of respondents said they spend time on the mobile web while watching television. (This number rises to nearly 95 percent in the U.S.)
Companies are leaning in to engage. One key indicator is mobile ad spending, which is on the rise in emerging markets. For instance, mobile internet ad spends in Mexico (another high-growth market) will increase 76 percent to reach $391.4 million this year.
Embracing Best Practices
With so many markets’ smartphone adoption rates hitting all-time highs, how can companies engage these consumers on their devices of choice? Launching mobile-friendly online experiences in a market’s preferred language(s) is a great start, but we’ve found it takes more than mere translation to move the needle. Here are a few additional considerations:
1. Responsive vs. mobile sites: In our post-“mobilegeddon” world, mobile-friendly sites are more important than ever. But this poses a key question for companies keen to connect with international mobile users: Should businesses use sites with responsive design (which adapts to a user’s device on-the-fly, optimizing its presentation for the user’s screen), or deploy an exclusively mobile site?
Responsive web design is a Google-recommended approach, and has several benefits — e.g., companies localize their existing websites with no need for separate teams (or budgets) for maintenance. It’s cheaper and more efficient. However, this route can pose challenges when localizing corporate sites for emerging markets. Ideally, these international users — for whom the internet is experienced solely via their mobile phones — should experience content that’s optimized exclusively for mobile screens. Under these circumstances, mobile sites deliver superior results than responsive sites.
2. Store locator: If your company has a brick-and-mortar presence, be sure to include “store locator” functionality in your localized mobile experience. Based on data we’ve aggregated from several key e-commerce clients, store location is used far more often on mobile devices than on desktop computers. This naturally suggests that “on the go” mobile users are activating this helpful feature to find the closest store, compare in-store prices and use localized coupons.
3. On-site search: Since the size of smartphone screens (and peoples’ chubby thumbs!) can lead to inefficient user experiences, on-site search is critical for mobile. Indeed, empowering users to easily find what they’re looking for can mean the difference between winning and losing a sale. Our research indicates offering a localized on-site search functionality that's predictive in anticipating users’ queries — and can account for common in-language misspellings — saves users time and increases conversions.