With the escalating penetration of smartphones and improving internet infrastructure across APAC, the mobile device has become consumers’ primary gateway to the internet.
According to a recent GfK study, accessing the internet via the smartphone has become a daily activity for 83 per cent of the online users across eight key Asia Pacific markets, led by the Chinese (93 per cent) followed by the Thais (89 per cent), Indonesians (88 per cent), Singaporeans (87 per cent) and Vietnamese (81 per cent).
The study, The Connected Asian Consumer, was conducted in May this year among more than 8,000 consumer in China, Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with the objective of gaining a deeper understanding of their habits in the digital space. Topics covered included media consumption, mobile usage habits, brand engagement and the consumers’ purchase journeys.
The study found that messaging apps are used more than any other smartphone apps across most Asian countries, with Indonesia, India and Singapore taking the lead. Over 80 per cent of users in each of the respective countries say they use it at least once weekly. At the opposite end is Japan, where less than two in five (39 per cent) 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 Venkatakrishnan, APAC director for digital marketing intelligence at GfK.
The Indonesians, Thais and Indians are the most avid users of social apps, with 86, 82 and 81 per cent of these connected consumers using them on a weekly basis. 64 per cent of connected consumers in India and 54 per cent of those in Indonesia said they have some level of engagement with at least one brand on social media in the past week, making them the group of consumers in APAC who are most open to being engaged by businesses online. These are also the top two markets where consumers said they have watched online videos or ads from brands.
With the proliferation of eCommerce, shopping apps are also gaining popularity across the markets. Such apps are used most often in India (54 per cent) and China (48 per cent) 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 (37 and 35 per cent). Only the developed markets of Australia and Japan are still very much conducting their online shopping activities on their PCs.
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 per cent) and Indonesia (60 per cent) 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 Venkatakrishnan. “The consumer purchase journey is no longer linear - brands need to be available at each touchpoint 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.”