SINGAPORE: In a sign of just how much online interaction matters for consumers in Asia-Pacific, a new survey conducted in eight key markets has found that more than four-in-five (83%) now access the internet each day on their smartphones.

Chinese consumers lead the way with a full 93% reporting that accessing the internet via their mobile device has become a daily activity, which suggests smartphones have become an integral part of their lives.

And there are similar high levels of mobile activity among Thais (89%), Indonesians (88%), Singaporeans (87%) and the Vietnamese (81%), according to The Connected Asian Consumer report from GfK.

The research firm examined the mobile habits and attitudes of 8,000 smartphone owners in May 2016, covering consumers in China, Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

GfK established that, with increased adoption of smartphones and improving internet infrastructure across the region, the mobile device has become consumers' "primary gateway to the internet".

"The smartphone gives an unparalleled reach to today's connected consumer, which when compared with the different mass media, perhaps can be rivalled only by the TV, but even that is being challenged in a few of the markets," said Karthik Venkatakrishnan, APAC Director for Digital Market Intelligence at GfK.

Taking a closer look at how online consumers in Asia-Pacific actually use their smartphones, the report found that messaging apps are more popular than any other app in most of the countries surveyed.

More than 80% of smartphone users in Singapore, India and Indonesia say they use messaging apps at least once a week while a significant proportion of connected consumers text more than they talk, especially Singaporeans (72%), Australians (64%) and Indians (64%).

However, interestingly, the report found Chinese smartphone users still prefer to talk as much as they text – only about a third (37%) text more than they talk – while just 39% of Japanese use messaging apps each week.

Also noteworthy for advertisers and brands, the survey revealed that there are particularly high levels of online brand engagement in India and Indonesia.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of connected consumers in India and more than half (54%) of those in Indonesia reported having some level of engagement with at least one brand on social media over the previous week.

GfK said that, out of all online consumers in the region, this made Indians and Indonesians the most open to being engaged by businesses online.

"These are also the top two markets where consumers said they have watched online videos/advertisements by brands," GfK added.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff