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Marketing Goes Mobile and Global (MoGlo)

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At this point, there seems to be a general consensus that marketing is going mobile. If you are still on the fence, please read this or this. Anyway, when we think about mobile, here’s the part I think many of us marketers and analysts tend to forget about: mobile is going global. A number of studies I’ve recently come across (from eMarketer, Pew Research Center, SAP, Strategy Analytics, and others) keep reminding me of this new reality. Of the roughly 7 billion people on this earth, about 15% percent of them- 1 billion or so- come from the “developed” or “advanced” world; that leaves the other 6 billion people in the “developing” world. A simple fact that becomes significant when one considers that, while smartphone (and to a lesser extent tablet) penetration has essentially plateaued in the “developed” world- i.e. in countries like the US, Japan, Australia, UK, etc.- it is still in the early stages of adoption in most emerging markets. To put it another way, as marketing goes mobile, it is also going mobile global or, as I like to say, MoGlo.

MoGlo by the Numbers

For those of you who prefer solid data to wild assumption, here are some interesting stats taken from eMarketer’s Key Digital Trends From 2014 report:

  • In 2013, smartphone sales in the US were 134 million; in China, 315.5 million (Source: Strategy Analytics).
  • By 2018, US smartphone sales are expected to reach 176.9 million, whereas in China they will reach 424.2 million units (nearly 2 ½ times that of the US) (Source: Strategy Analytics).
  • In India, 49.2 million smartphone units were sold in 2013; this number is expected to more than treble to 140 million units by 2018, nearly reaching parity with US smartphone sales (Source: Strategy Analytics).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Brazil’s online population- 72.1 million people- will be mobile internet users in 2014 (Source: eMarketer).
  • 70% of new online users in China are accessing the internet from a mobile device (Source: CNNIC).

SIDE NOTE: According to Guía Local, a digital urban guide service akin to Yelp, Android powered 61.3% of smartphone internet traffic in Latin America during 2013, with iOS trailing way behind with only 28.1% market share. Is this evidence that Google’s open source approach to smartphone distribution is trumping Apple’s proprietary model? I digress…

MoGlo Purchase Intent

Generalized mobile use is one thing, mobile purchase intent is quite another. According to a study of mobile consumers conducted by SAP in September of 2013 cited in the eMarketer report, consumers in emerging markets are more likely to have made a purchase via their mobile device, and are enthusiastic about the prospect of making more, than are consumers in the US.

Consumer Interest in Making Purchases via Mobile, by Region:

  • Asia-Pacific countries: 42%
  • Latin America: 25%
  • United States: 15%
  • Worldwide average: 29%

Mobile Payments

Similar to purchase intent, mobile payments are another significant business-friendly action, and as such, a trend for businesses to take note of. Anecdotal evidence from the Chinese central bank suggests that emerging markets such as China are keen on embracing mobile payments. As reported in Venture Beat, in 2013, mobile payments were the fastest-growing form of payments in China, increasing a whopping 317.56 percent year-over-year to 9.64 trillion yuan ($1.59 trillion).

MoGlo Penetration is Just Getting Started

New research from the Pew Research Center regarding global mobile adoption and internet usage shows that, while cellphone use is ubiquitous in many emerging markets {roughly nine-in-ten or more own mobile phones in Jordan (95%), China (95%), Russia (94%), Chile (91%) and South Africa (91%)}, smartphone penetration is lagging far behind.

For example, in China, already the largest smartphone market (see above), only 37% of mobile users own smartphones. This is likely to change as China’s per-capita GDP continues to rise and smartphone prices continue to fall. In a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, any percentage uptick in smartphone adoption from the Chinese represents a massive influx of new smartphone users.

Whereas in advanced markets such as the US, EU-5 and Japan smartphone penetration is beginning to level off, it is still in the early stages of adoption in emerging markets. This is extraordinarily significant, especially when one considers that collectively these emerging markets represent the lion’s share of humanity- six billion of the seven billion people on this earth.

MoGlo Will Impact All

What does the inevitable shift to MoGlo mean for businesses and marketers? The import for brands doing business in emerging markets is obvious: things are about to get much more complex. Marketing initiatives and campaign budgets will not only have to take into account multi-screen and multi-channel, but also multi-cultural, considerations. Brands operating only in advanced countries will also be affected, albeit indirectly at first. Some may even find advantage if they are able to focus more resources on local markets while competitors operating globally have to spread out finite resources accordingly.

Eventually, I think the emerging mobile global economy will impact all brands, regardless of company size or region of operation, in ways that cannot yet be anticipated. Such is the way of things in a free-wheelin' MoGlo world.

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