Research: Mobile is Emerging in Emerging Markets

For anyone needing further proof of the global proliferation of mobile devices, a comprehensive survey conducted by research firm TNS in sixty countries offers more evidence. The worldwide study, along with in-depth research and case studies from OgilvyAction, found that in some mobile usage areas, such as banking and shopping, developing countries are pioneering new trends. Both companies highlighted their findings at an AMA/American Marketing Association New York chapter event on Tuesday.

Below are the key takeaways.

Mobile has transformed communications, business, and entertainment in developing countries. “There mobile is not just a way to phone one’s friends, it’s a new portal,” Charles White, SVP at TNS, noted. “In many emerging markets, consumers’ first access to voice, news, Internet, and music was through mobile devices,” he added. Even for basic tasks, research results showed higher usage overseas. Worldwide, 65 percent of personal electronic messages were sent via mobile compared to 37 percent in North America.

For mobile banking, the emerging markets are quickly catching up to the developed markets. They have even been the model for new mobile payment options. M-Pesa started in Kenya as a way to transfer money through mobile devices, and it quickly gained traction there. Similar types of mobile payment systems followed, such as popmoney in the U.S., which updated its offering by partnering with banks.

Consumers worldwide are increasingly making mobile-based purchases instead of visiting stores. Ken Madden, EVP at OgilvyAction observed, “Mobile provides new shelf space as consumers are no longer constrained by physical shelves. And just because someone is at a retail store, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily buying there. They could be using your wi-fi to buy on their mobile phones from a competitor.”

Adoption of mobile activities depends on four key factors. Ogilvy’s research on global mobile trends identified four criteria for figuring out the likelihood of mobile tasks and apps being adapted; if it comes from a trusted brand, simplifies something, delivers a need or updates a behavior one is familiar with, then chances are it will become popular.

Madden cited Tesco markets in Korea as a prime example. Tesco is a well-known brand but its stores were also associated with long checkout lines. In response, the company set up a virtual store where customers could browse and click on the QR codes of items they wanted to buy using smartphones (video above). The purchases were then delivered directly to their homes. Tesco ended up hitting all four marks in delivering what its shoppers were looking for, the end of the “shop ’til you drop” experience.