HONG KONG: Hong Kong consumers are online on mobile devices more than any other Asian market, frequently using them in purchase decisions, but marketers have yet to allocate budgets accordingly, a new report has found.

A study undertaken by Mindshare, Yahoo! and TNS examined mobile behaviour in Hong Kong and the wider Asia-Pacific region and found that people in Hong Kong spent as much time daily looking at the screens of mobile devices (139 minutes) as they did television (140 minutes).

In addition, much of that time overlapped, which meant, noted Campaign Asia-Pacific, that the smaller screen had a greater impact on consumers as an interactive device would have more sway over consumers who were dividing their attention between the two.

But, as in markets elsewhere, marketers in Hong Kong appeared to be significantly underspending on mobile with only 11% of their digital budgets going there.

Deepika Nikhilender of Mindshare compared the current situation to the time when companies had first begun using websites as part of their marketing. "There wasn't a lot of clarity on how to use it and the full integration wasn't there … we're seeing the dynamic repeat itself in mobile," she said.

The need for marketers to rethink their digital strategies was further emphasised by the finding that half (48%) of Hong Kong consumers had used their smartphones for showrooming, while the great majority (85%) had used it for pre-purchase research. "That is the point where influence matters," declared Nikhilender.

"Not only do brands need to do a better job integrating mobile into their overall plan, they need to expand the ways they use it," she added.

And she cautioned against thinking that producing an app constituted a mobile strategy, arguing that could leave a brand isolated as consumers used their mobile devices in an integrated way. And in any case there were already thousands of apps available, making it difficult to cut through the noise.

The survey found that online marketing and games were among the best ways of creating a positive impression of a brand via mobile in Hong Kong.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff