Thursday September 26,2013
Yves Kammerer Business Development Director
A recent article on Mashable states that three out of four people in the United Arab Emirates owns a smartphone, making it the country with the highest smartphone penetration in the world. Following the UAE are South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. This trend is spreading quickly across the entire Middle East with other countries like Egypt leading the pack.
Google’s Our Mobile Planet report from Q1 of 2013 states that 56 per cent of those surveyed in the UAE use their smartphones to access the internet daily, with the primary smartphone activities being to browse the internet followed by taking a picture or video, sending an email, social networking and watching videos on a video sharing site such as YouTube. Already, this paints a picture of an always-connected consumer with all signs pointing towards this trend increasing not only in the UAE but the ME also.
Furthermore, with the roll-out of higher-performing networks (such as 4G and LTE) and devices that offer seamless connectivity, we will increasingly see the decline of the “transaction-based” user and the rise of the “always-connected” user. A “transaction-based user” is an individual who will typically connect to the internet to conduct an activity (such as to make a purchase or to stream content), and then log off. The user sparingly uses bandwidth and does not rely on connectivity for every aspect of their life.
Another ‘always-connected’ consumer trend also prevalent in the ME is the extended use of Over the Top (OTT) services such as Instagram, Viber, WhatsApp and Twitter which are enabling and encouraging consumers to share pictures, videos and thoughts instantly with friends, family and colleagues. Analysys Mason’s survey reported that 80% of mobile internet users in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) access OTT messaging services, of which 44% use WhatsApp messenger. In fact, there are more and more cases where consumers are buying smartphones and selecting their Data plans just so they can be socially connected all the time. Striving to create implicit loyalty, some operators have resorted to offering unlimited packages or free Data offers to include constant access to popular services like Twitter and Facebook.
Ultimately, the rise of the always-connected user also means that internet connectivity prices should drop as mobile operators vie for consumer loyalty. However I do believe that this trend does not necessarily mean the start of new profit eroding price wars further threatening operators’ revenues. On the contrary, there are real opportunities for operators to monetise the population’s rapidly growing appetite for mobile internet activities. For instance, operators can drive Data Upsell and build customer satisfaction and loyalty through smart marketing which delivers highly personalised campaigns with specific and timely Data offers that are best suited to subscribers’ needs and Data consumption levels. Another way is to use predictive analytics to enable operators to precisely and, importantly, promptly target those customers who will be the most receptive to specific data upsell offers.
So as both the customer touch points and marketing opportunities for mobile operators are clearly increasing, this is an area which requires careful planning and precise execution. More often than not, the always-connected consumer is emotionally connected to their device and as marketers, we have to ensure our efforts are more personally relevant in their nature in order to resonate and be well received by the target audience.
This article was published on Developing Telecoms.Share this