With 5.2 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion mobile subscribers in the developing world, handset manufacturers and developers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Facebook and Mozilla, are renewing their efforts to connect and cater to emerging market consumers.
However, new data finds that although the majority of consumers in these regions use Android devices because of their accessibility, Apple is actually the most coveted mobile brand in the developing world.
‘The Next Mobile Frontier’ report from mobile marketing expert Upstream, which polled the views of a representative sample of 4,504 consumers in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Vietnam in conjunction with analyst house Ovum, revealed that Apple (32%) is the most desired brand in these countries, with Samsung (29%) second and Nokia (13%) third. Samsung has been knocked off the top spot as the most desired brand in Upstream’s emerging market research in 2013, but Android devices currently remain the handsets of choice in these regions with 296,493 active Android smartphones in comparison to 90,184 IOS devices.
Where brand status has often contributed to mobile handset success in the West, reasons for purchasing a particular handset in emerging markets are more diverse. Functionality is the primary reason for the majority of consumers (Brazil: 44%, Nigeria: 47%, Vietnam: 48%, China: 46% and India: 48%), with nearly half of consumers stating this is the most important motivation for purchase. This complements Facebook and Ericsson’s creation of a lab that enables app developers to test their software on the types of networks and phones available in developing countries.
For Brazilian consumers (22%), trust in the brand is the next most important factor and brand aspiration is key for Nigerian (23%), Indian (26%), Chinese (21%) and Vietnamese (29%) consumers.
Marco Veremis, CEO, Upstream, comments: “The race to emerging market consumers is truly underway after several announcements from handset manufacturers, content providers and notably Facebook – all of who are developing devices or mobile content specifically for consumers in these regions. However, blindly approaching new markets without obtaining granular insights into what people in these regions actually want and acknowledging what is important to them will lead to challenges along the way. Only when each player truly understands the audience of each region – being able to answer the questions of ‘what’s affordable’, ‘what content do consumers want’ and ‘what functionality is preferred’ – will they be able to connect with the consumers they are trying to reach”.
As more Western brands and app developers realise the potential to offer mobile content to consumers in emerging markets, Upstream’s research reveals that 40% of users access content via Google Play – although consumers desire Apple devices, most people in these regions are using lower cost Android smartphones. In the age-old Android vs. IOS rivalry in the UK and US, the data finds that in emerging markets, just 28% of consumers are using Apple’s App Store. Further to this, more than one in four consumers (26%) are accessing content directly from their mobile operator’s own app store, highlighting the importance of local relationships and the trust consumers put in their mobile network operator.
These app stores are not without their frustrations. Results from the report show that the most prevalent app store problem experienced by emerging market consumers is the high level of promotional messages received (24%), suggesting that users are not amenable to in-app advertising. Furthermore the data revealed difficulty in navigating app stores to find downloadable content (24%) is another primary frustration. For example, 1 in 5 respondents point out that app stores have a lack of personalised suggestions (20%) and 1 in 10 (11%) say a major problem with current app stores options is the lack of payment methods offered when purchasing content. With many emerging market consumers not having access to credit cards, it will be the app stores that cater to all payment methods that will achieve widespread success.
Veremis adds, “The device challenge has now diffused to the app stores as consumers in emerging markets want localised content that they can pay for by different methods. This is where we see the dominance of relationships with local operators who have built up the trust and mutual understanding that bigger players have not yet developed – including the ability to offer personalised content, recommendations and flexible payment via their normal mobile billing. It is a very welcome announcement that Facebook and Ericsson are encouraging app developers to create content that is accessible to a global audience, perhaps prompting handset manufacturers, operators and app developers to follow suit in the year ahead.”