- Over 4 in 5 APAC online consumers access the Internet daily on their smartphones
- Messaging apps rule; over half say they text more than talk on their smartphones
WITH the escalating penetration of smartphones and improving Internet infrastructure across Asia Pacific, the mobile device has become consumers’ primary gateway to the Internet, said market research firm GfK.
According to a recent GfK study, accessing the Internet via the smartphone has become a daily activity for 83% of online users in the region, led by the Chinese (93%) and followed by the Thais (89%), Indonesians (88%), Singaporeans (87%) and Vietnamese (81%).
The Connected Asian Consumer study was conducted in May among more than 8,000 smartphone owners across eight Asia Pacific markets, the company said in a statement.
The survey covered China, Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with the objective of gaining a deeper understanding of consumers’ habits in the digital space.
Topics covered included media consumption, mobile usage habits, as well as brand engagement and the consumers’ purchase journeys.
“The smartphone gives an unparalleled reach to today’s connected consumer, which when compared with the different mass media, perhaps can be rivalled only by the TV, but even that is being challenged in a few of the markets,” said Karthik Venkatakrishnan, Asia Pacific director for Digital Marketing Intelligence at GfK.
Messaging apps becoming remote controls for day-to-day living
Messaging apps are used more than any other smartphone apps across most Asian countries, with Indonesia, India and Singapore taking the lead. Over 80% of users in each of these countries say they use it at least once weekly.
At the opposite end is Japan, where less than two in five (39%) use messaging apps on a weekly basis.
“At the rate which messaging apps are reportedly being used in this region, it is not surprising that a high proportion of connected consumers actually text more than they talk on their smartphone,” said Karthik.
“The top Asia Pacific countries where most consumers agreed with this statement were Singapore, Australia and India at 72%, 64% and 64% respectively,” he added.
Interestingly, the Chinese still prefer to talk as much as they text – only slightly over a third (37%) of them agreed with this statement.
Social media: From simple networking to customer service and e-commerce
The Indonesians, Thais and Indians are the most avid users of social apps, with 86%, 82% and 81% of these connected consumers respectively using them on a weekly basis.
“Today’s social platform has changed over the years to now cover a much broader range of audience – not just the younger crowd who were the predominant users at the beginning,” said Karthik.
“They have also evolved from the original purpose of simple networking to now being heavily utilised by brands and businesses to engage their customers and to further their business agenda,” he added.
For instance, nearly two-thirds of connected consumers in India (64%) and over half (54%) of those in Indonesia said they have had some level of engagement with at least one brand on social media in the past week – making them the most open to being engaged by businesses online in the region.
These are also the top two markets where consumers said they have watched online videos/ advertisements by brands.
Shopping: Connecting online and offline journeys to reap rewards
With the proliferation of e-commerce, shopping apps are also gaining popularity across the markets. Such apps are used most often in India (54%) and China (48%) with around half of the online population using a shopping app more than once a week.
Consumers in Singapore and Indonesia also reported fairly high usage incidence (37% and 35%, respectively).
Only the developed markets of Australia and Japan are still very much conducting their online shopping activities on their PCs.
According to GfK findings, the categories which consumers do the most research on and make final purchases over the Internet are airlines, hotels, music, apparels and smartphones.
In the bigger cities of certain markets like India and China, purchasing smartphones online is fast catching up with the offline methods.
Mobile payment is another area which is likely to encourage growth of online shopping. For instance, a significant percentage of connected consumers in India (72%) and Indonesia (60%) agree that using the phone to send/ receive money is easier than sending cash, and that paying for their shopping online is more secure now than before.
“As society’s reliance and usage of digital technology continues to deepen, businesses which do not have a strategy targeted at digital and social platforms will only get left behind; especially when more and more consumers in the lesser developed markets eventually get connected online,” said Karthik.
“The consumer purchase journey is no longer linear – brands need to be available at each touch point at moments where their consumers are present, integrating their offline and online experiences so that they are ever ready for their customers when they are wanted the most,” he added.
Half the world's population on mobile Internet by 2020: GSMA
Chat apps challenge Asian social behaviour
Thailand, Malaysia among world’s most mobile Net-hungry: Telenor
For more technology news and the latest updates, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Like us on Facebook.