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Emerging markets growth, convenience push mobile content and commerce

If you think mobile content and commerce are just buzzwords at the moment, or concepts you should look at for the future, think again. Nearly 90% of mobile users already engage in mobile content and commerce.

That’s up from 82% last year. That growth isn’t about to start slowing down either, especially as people in emerging markets get access to increasingly affordable, sophisticated mobile technology.

According to the latest annual survey conducted by MEF — a global community for mobile content and commerce — around 88% of mobile users now use their devices for research, to purchase products or for banking.

The biggest rises in mobile content and commerce are in growth markets, including Qatar (73% in 2011 to 86% in 2012), India (85 to 90%) and South Africa (89 to 95%). In contrast mature markets such as the UK have remained static at 91% for 2011 and 2012.

That’s hardly surprising when you consider other estimates which suggest that Africa will spend US$18.5-billion on data by 2016, and that mobile money on the continent is still growing.

While more people in both emerging and mature markets are buying things using their mobile devices, they still tend to be digital purchases. That is however changing. In 2012, 54% bought digital products, as was the case in 2011. But 31% purchased physical items in 2012 up from 24% in 2011.

Even if we aren’t actually buying things on our mobile devices, they’re still changing the way we shop. According to MEF 80% of people now use their phone to research, up from 58% in 2011.

When we do make mobile purchases, whether physical or digital, we’re increasingly using our credit cards instead of network billing. Around 27% of those surveyed used a card for m-commerce, against just 14% making payments via the phone bill (not including purchasing airtime).

A side effect of this rush into the mobile space is that more niche players have had an opportunity to make a name for themselves, giving the space more of a high street and less of a mega mall kind of feel. Big brands are starting to move into the space though as they begin to recognise its importance.

Given the increasing number of banking apps out there, it’s hardly surprising that more and more people are also banking using their mobile devices. Around 64% of people now use their devices to conduct mobile banking (up from 57% in 2011).

According to Andrew Bud, Global Chair MEF, a large part of the reason that people are using their mobile devices for content and commerce is convenience:

MEF’s 2012 report shows how far mobile has come as a channel for both consumer engagement and entertainment. Across the world, mobile content and commerce is increasingly the most convenient way to discover, to choose and to buy. The data has profound implications for brands, retailers and financial institutions, as well as the content and entertainment industry. We cannot be complacent: the report also reveals that trust is still a significant barrier for consumers and the industry must collaboratively address that to sustain growth.

The stats bear him out too. At 26%, convenience is the number one reason people in the survey gave for engaging in mobile commerce. Trust is however also important with 13% citing ‘from a brand I know and trust’ as a key reason for purchasing via mobile. Thirty-five per cent of respondents meanwhile admit that concerns around trust are acting as a barrier to purchasing more from a phone.

Reasons for purchase

The study was conducted with 9 500 respondents globally via On-Device Research.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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