Prepping for 2016: Emerging Mobile-First Markets
Global smartphone use is hitting stratospheric heights. But where is this powerful—and profitable—growth taking place? Here's our exclusive report.
As your company eyes its global expansion opportunities in 2016, it should prioritize mobile-first markets.
Why? Smartphone adoption is hitting stratospheric heights, leaving traditional computers by the wayside. In 2018, over one-third of consumers around the world—about 2.6 billion people—will own a smartphone. The conventional web is already taking a beating: according StatCounter data, webpage views on desktop browsers have dropped 13% to 62% worldwide. Mobile phone views, meanwhile, have grown from 31% to 39%.
Spending on the mobile web is breaking records, too. M-commerce is outpacing traditional e-commerce by three-to-one. In mere months, m-commerce sales will hit $291 billion worldwide. That’s almost triple the sales of 2012.
But where is this growth—in adoption and revenue—taking place? Which markets are home to mobile-savvy consumers? According to publicly available information and our proprietary data, some mobile-first markets are close to home … but powerful growth opportunities are hailing from emerging markets, too.
U.S. Hispanics are considered “power users” of mobile devices by Google research, and adopt new digital devices more quickly than the national average. Nearly half of Hispanic smartphone owners are “mobile-dominant”—meaning they prefer using smartphones over PCs to access the Internet. This is much larger than the non-Hispanic average of 38%.
This market is also increasingly influential and affluent: representing nearly 20% of the market, it has a buying power of over $1.5 trillion.
Analysts widely consider Hispanics a “mobile-first” market. They are 1.5 times more likely to buy digital media than non-Hispanics, and access mobile banking and coupon services more often, too. (For banking: 65% vs. 53%. For coupons: 25% vs. 17%). They’re also early adopters of mobile payments. Nearly 25% have used a smartphone to make an in-store purchase. (The U.S. average is 13%).
Based on MotionPoint’s research and experience, companies that engage Spanish-speaking Hispanics via mobile—particularly in their preferred language—see positive results. One client saw monthly revenue grow by 481% after we deployed its Spanish mobile site. This revenue represents more than half of all revenue generated through the company’s numerous Spanish online channels.
Six weeks after we helped an airline launch its Spanish mobile site, the company’s total Spanish site traffic—both desktop and mobile—increased by 80%. During the same Spanish mobile revenue rose 363%. We’ve projected that mobile site will generate, in revenue, 379 times its annual cost.
We also see a big opportunity for organizations keen to connect with mobile-savvy Chinese Canadians, the ethnic group that represents Canadian residents of full or partial Chinese ancestry. This increasingly affluent and well-educated market is poised for massive population growth.
At anticipated immigration and birth rates, the Chinese Canadian population will soon explode in several key markets. Vancouver’s ethnic Chinese population of 396,000 will rise to 809,000 by 2031, representing nearly 25% of that city’s population.
This market indexes highly in mobile. We manage localized Chinese sites for several Canadian industries; Canadian banks in particular. Based on our analysis, nearly 40% of all traffic coming to these sites hails from smartphones and tablets.
This jibes with Canadian averages. According to comScore, 51% of all Canadian online traffic came from a phone or tablet in 2015.
Chinese-speaking Canadians prefer localized content to English or French content. They also return more often to localized websites. Pages-per-visit increases by as much as 69%, and some conversion rates rise by 130%.
Keep an Eye on Emerging Markets
Beyond North America, smartphone adoption is skyrocketing, particularly in emerging markets. Last year, China crossed the 500-million mark for active smartphones. In mere months, there will be more active smartphones in India than in the United States. Indonesia will soon become the world’s fourth-largest market, screaming past Japan and Russia in the process.
As this year concludes, “the U.S., Japan and the UK, which in 2014 were among the top five smartphone growth markets by value, will be knocked out the top 10” by developing markets, a research firm announced in 2014.
By 2018, the Top 5 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 this list doesn’t tell the full story. Emerging markets are adopting smartphones much faster than mature markets. This trend will continue. By 2018, here’s where growth rates will be at their highest:
- Indonesia: +98%
- India: +67%
- Philippines: +56%
- Vietnam: +52%
- Nigeria: +48%
- Brazil: +48%
- Mexico: +46%
In contrast, China will see an increase of 23% during the same timeframe. U.S. growth will rise by 20%. Russia, 31%.
Smaller markets in Southeast Asia are already seeing astonishing growth. In Vietnam alone—one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets, with nearly 25% audience growth in 2015—90% of adults now own smartphones.
Latin America is thriving, too. Based on the mobile traffic we’ve observed on our localized sites for e-commerce clients, there’s lots of engagement. Average Order Values are through the roof: $143 for Mexico, $195 for Argentina, $186 from Venezuela.
Companies are taking note, and leaning in to connect with these mobile-first consumers. A key indicator of this is mobile ad spending, which is on the rise in emerging markets. Mobile Internet ad spends in Mexico (another high-growth market) increased 76% this year, reaching $391.4 million.
With global smartphone adoption rates hitting all-new highs, how can your company engage these consumers in 2016? Launching mobile-friendly online experiences in a market’s preferred language is a great start. However, it takes more than translation to move the needle.
Here are a few considerations:
Responsive vs. Mobile Sites: In our post-“mobilegeddon” world, mobile-friendly sites are more important than ever. But should your company launch localized sites with responsive design to connect with these mobile-first consumers (which adapts on-the-fly, optimizing its presentation for the user’s screen), or deploy an exclusively mobile site?
Google recommends responsive web design. This approach has several benefits—namely, companies localize their existing websites, with no need for separate teams (or budgets) for maintenance.
But this can pose challenges when localizing 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. In these situations, mobile sites deliver superior results than responsive sites.
Store Locator: If your company has an international 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.
On-Site Search: Since the size of smartphone screens (and users’ chubby thumbs!) can lead to inefficient site navigation, on-site search is critical for mobile experiences. Offering localized on-site search functionality that is predictive in anticipating users’ queries—and can account for common in-language misspellings—saves users time, and increases conversions.