Consumers slow to adopt mobile commerce

16 March 2010

SINGAPORE: Most consumers are still not using their mobile phones as a tool for purchasing products, according to an international study produced by Buzz City, the advertising network.

The company conducted a survey of 1,798 people in 12 major markets around the world, including the US, UK, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa.

It found that 90% of respondents had bought goods or services through their mobile phone to date, with 35% doing so on a daily basis, 21% once a week, and 15% at least monthly.

Within this, however, 68% of participants reported that these acquisitions were for offerings which were directly tied to their phone, with mobile content on 46%, and prepaid airtime on 22%.

Only 5% had purchased something from an online store, while 2% had made travel or entertainment bookings in this way, suggesting much progress is required before this channel becomes mainstream.

Some 9% of the sample had obtained "other" products through their phone, a category that Buzz City defined as covering objects like "low premium insurance products, devotional products and virtual items."

When asked which goods they would be prepared to order on mobile devices, 45% of contributors opted for books, music and movies, with travel bookings on 22%, and small electronic appliances on 11%.

Small gifts and computer games were among the other articles that members of the panel displayed an interest in purchasing via their cellphones.

A majority of people had used cash or debit cards to make payments on their phone, but just 8% had used a credit card in the same way.

According to Buzz City, there is currently a need to educate consumers about the options available on mobile, and to develop partnerships between banks, carriers and retailers.

Moreover, 29% of the global mobile user base does not yet have access to a bank account, while 56% does not have a credit card, meaning innovative solutions will be required to facilitate transactions.

A separate poll of 1,246 smartphone owners in the US by Compete, the consultancy, revealed that members of this cohort are spending more time using these devices throughout the day than ever before.

Of this audience, 36% agreed they would like grocery coupons to be sent directly to their phones, while 29% expressed a desire to be able to scan product barcodes to access relevant information.

A further 21% said they would be in favour of receiving communications related to offers from retailers when they walked past stores.

This figure fell to 18% for advertiser-funded applications, and 16% for advertising related to searches they had conducted on the mobile web.

"Brands need to focus on engaging and driving behavior of these 'early adopters' in order to help bring these concepts to mass market," the study concluded.

Data sourced from Buzz City; additional content by Warc staff