DELHI: The past year has seen a surge in the amount of time Indian consumers spend on their smartphones, to such an extent that the device has passed television in terms of media consumption, according to a new study.

A report from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), in association with research firm Kantar IMRB, examined smartphone and feature phone usage and behaviours and found that the average consumer spent three hours a day on their smartphones in 2016 – a 55% increase on the previous year.

Time spent on smartphones has now surpassed time spent on TV or any other media, it said.

Social media and messaging apps were the focus of consumer attention, with these two facilities accounting for almost 50% of all time spent on smartphones.

Online shopping has also gained ground – it now has 15% greater reach than entertainment, making it the second most popular category on this metric.

The study further reported that women spend twice as much time on their smartphones viewing YouTube videos or playing games as men; and they spent 80% more time on Facebook than their male counterparts.

As affordable, entry-level smartphones have hit the market, the expectation has been that users will invariably trade up at some point, but the report found that 85% of feature phone users do not intend to do so since they value the functional benefits of their current devices along with their durability, battery life and ease of repair.

And, interestingly, three quarters of feature phone users were from the upper socio-economic classifications (SECs); only 25% were from SEC C, D and E (NCCS).

D Shivakumar, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo India Holdings and Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, noted that most mobile marketing efforts were being targeted at smartphones and described the report's findings as "a wake-up call".

"Insights on mobile usage in India are of critical importance to the modern day marketer," he said. "A thorough understanding of the differential usage and consumer segments that are using smartphones and feature phones will only help marketers use their monies more efficiently."

He added that there was also a need to "seriously think about marketing measurement and attribution, giving marketers better measurements, tools and confidence in connecting marketing to business outcomes".

Data sourced from MMA; additional content by Warc staff