In 2018, China is an almost entirely cashless consumer economy, where popular mobile payment apps such as WeChat Pay and Alipay have enabled consumers to go straight from cash, to smartphone payments, leapfrogging the use of credit cards and cheques.
One of the world’s leading players in mobile or e-payment, China saw $15.4 trillion worth of mobile payments handled by third-party platforms in 2017 – more than 40 times the amount processed in the US.
Chinese consumers can buy a pancake at a roadside breakfast stall, order food online, pay credit card bills, or manage stock accounts, all with just their smartphone. In fact, mobile payments are so prevalent that use of cash fell from 63% of transactions in 2011 to just 33% by 2016.
When Alibaba founder Jack Ma carved out his payments business from the ecommerce giant in 2010, he pulled off a coup with multibillion dollar implications. But it was a move by WeChat a few years later that really set the category alight.
The sending and receiving of red packets containing cash (also called lai see in Cantonese, and hongbao in Mandarin) at Lunar New Year is an important tradition across China. But historically red packets were always tangible items, real cash in a paper envelope. Then, in 2014, WeChat introduced digital red packets. The ability to send festive cash to family and friends using just the WeChat Pay mobile payment platform. It was a revolution, and 4 years later in 2018, the idea of digital red packets had caught on to such an extent, that 80% of Chinese consumers sent a red packet via WeChat. This year only 69% sent a physical red packet.
WeChat’s success with digital red packets introduced and popularised the mobile payments category with Chinese consumers, and built a platform for the adoption of wider mobile payments functionality across money transfer, taxi ordering, online shopping, bill settlement, wealth management, for both WeChat – and it’s competitors.
Alipay and WeChat Pay have also made their presence felt abroad. Both companies extended their payments services to hundreds of thousands of merchants in regions like Southeast Asia and Europe, targeting outbound Chinese travellers and encouraging them to settle their overseas shopping bills with the apps. Adoption is still low, but merchants are keen to facilitate easier transactions for high volume and wealthy Chinese tourists.
Within China however, the game is up. The dominance of mobile payment means not only that companies like Alibaba and Tencent manage consumer financial transactions, but as a by product they also control huge lakes of valuable personal data. Already this data is being used to close the loop on the consumer purchase cycle, and up-sell other financial products such as loans, or retail experiences. Alipay has also built Sesame Credit, a personal credit rating platform and Chinese government social rating system, linked to it’s mobile payments footprint. While English language media tends to describe Sesame Credit as an authoritarian system straight out of Black Mirror, Chinese social media users seem to focus more on the advantages than the burdens.
Ay, there’s the rub! As the West agonises over Cambridge Analytica and GDPR, WeChat and Alipay have already built the future of mobile payments. Convenience trumps all, if you let it.
Below we’ve collected key takeaway resources covering WeChat, Alipay and the mobile payments ecosystem in China.
Mobile Payment Usage in China 2017
Tencent: The Growth of the Digital Payment Ecosystem in China
Social Networks & Digital Payment in China
Alipay and WeChat Pay: Reaching Rural Users in China
Digital transformation in China – Take aways from the Alibaba Global Dreamer Program
While the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was marked by social media, the upcoming tournament in Russia is set to be the World Cup of Mobile. Internet penetration has grown from 42% to 55% since the last tournament, and mobile now makes up 73% of total internet consumption.
Tentpole sporting events are particularly suited to mobile app targeting, as sports fans are typically never far from their mobile devices, and a large portion of content related to the tournament will be consumed on a mobile device.
Live streaming has grown massively over recent years, to the extent that the 2018 Winter Olympics was live streamed by twice the people compared to 2014. In addition, 30% of fans stream sporting events on their mobile devices because it allows them to watch games and events “on their own terms”. Second screening in live sports is also huge – 80% of viewers use their mobile devices to search for player stats and to replay videos of key plays.
Beyond live streaming, several other mobile app categories see uplifts during major sporting events:
Sport – fans use mobile sports apps to find out more about their favourite teams and players throughout the tournament, both during and between games
AppsFlyer has just released it’s “State of App Marketing in India” report, offering insights into India’s mobile marketing landscape, the latest trends and how to navigate India’s mobile ecosystem.
India is the world’s fastest growing mobile market, faster than even China, with the country now accounting for 10 percent of global smartphone shipments, according to IDC. Indian consumers have a relatively high in-app buying rate compared to the global average, especially in shopping apps.
The report looked at three broad categories of shopping, travel and entertainment apps, and also revealed other key findings:
India ranks sixth globally in terms of number of minutes spent on apps per day.
There was a 200% increase in the average number of installs per app when comparing January 2017 to January 2018
India suffers from a high uninstall rate due to limited storage space in the Android dominated market. Close to one third (32 percent) of installed apps are deleted within 30 days. Retention is also a challenge with only about 5% of users active 30 days after installing an app.
India is increasingly attractive to non-Indian apps, especially Chinese ones. More Chinese apps are now in the top 200 compared to Indian apps. The share of non-Indian apps in the categories of shopping and travel grew by 84 percent and 45 percent respectively. In contrast, the share of Indian-based apps has risen year on year in the entertainment category.
The State of App Marketing in India report analyzed data from different time frames throughout 2017, with a sample of 1 billion plus app installs, 4 billion app opens, and $400 million generated from in-app revenue.
Myanmar is going through a digital transformation. AdsMy, a local marketing tech platform, have produced a trends deck covering digital marketing and consumer behaviour for Myanmar in 2018. Programmatic, mobile, video, native and digital advertising are all highlighted as growth areas.
2018 marks the 10 year anniversary for both the Apple App Store and Android market. In the short time since the first wave of apps were published in 2008, they have impacted the lives of people all over the world on an unprecedented level. There are now apps for almost anything and everything – hugely successful apps that incorporate AR and VR, apps dedicated to events, and even an app just for popping bubble wrap.
Who could ever have imagined that apps would evolve from the simple Snake game on the Nokia phone (yes that was an app), to driving a $6.3 trillion industry in 2021?
Looking back over 2017, the app economy has hit some significant milestones:
By the end of October 2017, the iOS App Store and Google Play had more than 2 million and more than 3.5 million apps available, respectively.
New apps continue to be introduced at a strong pace. During the month ending October 31, 2017, roughly 50,000 new apps launched on the iOS App Store and over 150,000 were added to Google Play.
Across mature markets, users have up to 90 or 100 apps installed on their devices, 30 of which they use on a monthly basis. On average, people are spending two hours per day — which equates to one month out of every year — in apps.
More than 40 countries will generate over $100 million in consumer spend in 2017 for iOS App Store and Google Play combined.
Apps play a key role in almost every industry today, including retail, banking, travel, QSR, CPG and media & entertainment .
It is apparent that the evolution of mobile apps have transformed the everyday lives of people, and users continuously expect their favourite apps to be improved. There are several aspects of an app which users expect to be improved, but convenience is a core theme that underlies many of our predictions as we look to 2018.
1. Worldwide Gross Consumer App Store Spend Blows Past the $100 Billion Mark
The continued evolution of markets across the globe has led app monetization to continuously grow at an outstanding rate. Apart from games, which traditionally account for the majority of overall spend, we foresee spending in e-commerce apps such as Alibaba and Amazon to drive worldwide consumer spend – which is expected to grow about 30% year on year to exceed $110 billion in 2018. In APAC, consumer spend on apps hit $17.1 billion in H1 2017 alone.
2. App Store Curation Drives Higher Overall IAP Revenue and Expands Opportunity for Independent Publishers
In June 2017, both Apple and Google announced updates to the iOS App Store and Google Play aimed to alleviate this issue through app curation and editorial content. We predict that these updates will have a significant impact on apps in 2018, in particular apps that help people occupy their leisure time. These types of apps, which tend to be entertainment-centric, are most likely to connect with consumers when they are casually browsing through the app stores. Conversely, “needs-based” apps such as UberEats or DBS PayLah! are far more likely to be downloaded based on word of mouth recommendations or focused searches when a user encounters a particular need.
3. Broader Adoption of AR Apps
Pokémon GO and Snapchat sparked huge interest in augmented reality (AR) among the masses, and we foresee that AR will take another significant step forward towards realizing its massive potential in 2018.
Facebook, Google and Apple have taken the lead at their developer conferences in 2017, and together with the Chinese powerhouses Alibaba , Baidu and Tencent , have set the foundation for AR-related initiatives. These initiatives will accelerate the space by making it easier and faster for publishers to develop AR apps, while also stoking consumer interest. For example, in Japan, starting in May 2017, there has been a significant increase in iPhone app downloads for the top ranking apps by “Augmented Reality” app store search in Japan, and other APAC countries.
4. Fragmentation of the Video Streaming Space Accelerates
It is now not an uncommon sight to see people catching up on their favourite Netflix series or Hollywood movies while on the move. 2017 has been another extraordinary year for video streaming services and total time spent in Video and Entertainment apps tripled to almost 40 billion hours in APAC alone.
Between H1 2015 and H1 2017, time spent in the Video Players and Entertainment categories on Android phones in APAC has tripled to reach close to 40 billion hours – almost half of the worldwide total.
Year to date through October 31, 2017, these apps have driven significant growth of worldwide consumer spend for the Entertainment category on both iOS and Google Play. However, as some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and app economy — including Netflix , Apple , Google , Facebook , Snap and Disney — have announced huge plans to expand their footprints in variety of ways, we expect that 2018 to mark the beginning of an inflection point for this space, in terms of fragmentation. In fact, our research shows that Android users in South Korea who use video streaming apps are significantly more likely than average to be accessing other video and related entertainment services.
Overall, this space will continue to see steady growth in terms of revenue and engagement, but in the years that follow, consumers may start to rationalize how they spend their time and money among a dizzying array of choices, resulting in some players succumbing to profit pressures as they get crowded out of this competitive space.
5. Mobile Pushes Towards the Center of the Retail Customer Journey
Analysts and experts have pronounced the retail apocalypse in recent times, and we see apps as a way to reinvigorate consumers’ retail experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers have already embraced apps and shoppers are now very engaged; results are telling from the Great Singapore Sale 2017 , which saw an increase in sales thanks to the GoSpree app. In Indonesia, which has a population of 261 million and a burgeoning middle class, users spend an average of just over 90 minutes per month in Shopping apps, placing it at #2 after South Korea. On 11 November 2017, dubbed Single’s Day, Alibaba generated a record breaking $25.3 billion in sales, with mobile users accounting for 90% of sales. These numbers are only the beginning of what is a rapidly evolving retail experience for consumers.
Come 2018, apps will continue to cause consumers to change their shopping habits which will in turn redefine the relationship between and even the very nature of existing retail channels (e.g., mobile app, web, brick-and-mortar). China, for instance, is one huge influencer in this area. We are seeing people in western markets increasingly use physical stores as a place to pick up items purchased on mobile. In addition, cash registers’ longstanding role in the checkout and payment process will become reduced, or in some cases replaced, by mobile. For many consumers, mobile will be a core part of the shopping experience regardless of channel.
6. Restaurant Aggregators Drive Mobile Conversion as Delivery-as-a-Service Further Penetrates Premium Markets
As we predicted last year, there was some consolidation in the food delivery space. Looking ahead to next year, we expect that aggregators such as Korea’s Yogiyo will continue to expand the addressable market for this space by opening up under penetrated markets as well as converting users who do not currently use mobile apps from intermediaries to order meals. Meanwhile, delivery as a service (DaaS) providers (e.g., UberEATS , Deliveroo) will gain market share in premium markets where customers are more likely to pay more for higher-end restaurants that don’t have their own delivery fleets. Furthermore, we expect more quick-service restaurants (QSR) to respond to the increased competition from food delivery by partnering with DaaS apps, similar to McDonald’s growing partnership with UberEATS . As with video streaming, this space will face consolidation in later years as it needs to rationalize the fragmentation felt by customers and the profit pressures felt by service providers competing in a crowded space.
7. Finance-Related Apps Poised for Most Significant Transformation in 2018
In 2017 in Asia-Pacific specifically, the growth of downloads in the Finance category outpaced all app categories (non-games) combined, with China leading the way. Person-to-person (P2P) payment apps, like WeChat, AliPay, GoPay, Grab Pay and PayTM have been some of the shining stars in the fintech app revolution. They have transformed how consumers, particularly millennials, exchange money, by displacing the use of cash and checks. In the next year, we expect these services to capitalize on their popularity and broaden their range of services in an effort to expand their revenue potential, fend off increased competition from traditional banks and deepen user engagement. With retailers adopting such apps as an option for customers, we expect P2P payment apps to see increased transaction volume. These initiatives have been well received by users, as they will provide even greater levels of convenience. In addition, this space will see increased activity from successful players in other categories, like messaging and social networking, who are constantly looking for additional ways to serve, monetize and engage their large user bases.
These are just a handful of areas where we expect the app economy to evolve over the near future. Despite how far this space has advanced over its first decade, it is just scratching the surface of its full potential. Users increasingly expect apps to completely transform the very nature of how they accomplish goals and tasks, as well as create brand new experiences not possible on other platforms. We are excited to see how app developers change the world by delivering on these needs over the app economy’s second decade.
Myanmar is a highly mobile market, backed up by the latest research showing 99% of households now own a SIM card. This points to an interesting dynamic where consumers own SIM cards to make calls, but will borrow a common handset from friends or relatives.
Facebook and Gaming are the most popular mobile pastimes in Myanmar, although 95% of consumers still use their mobile phones for phone calls.
With Mobile quickly becoming the go to channel for brands, there is a quiet revolution happening in the world of marketing. Mobile is growing up, and getting serious as it moves front and centre. Here are our top Mobile advertising trends in APAC for the year ahead.
1. Rise of the apps
App use is growing 22% year on year, driven by increased smartphone adoption. Consumers already spend more than 50% of their total digital media time in app. This promises to grow again in 2018.
2. Gaming is the new TV
With 27% of time on mobile devices spent gaming, mobile games are slowly replacing TV as the backdrop to everyday life. One of the biggest opportunities for brands in 2018 is leveraging mobile gaming as a high reach, context neutral environment, just like TV or UGC / Social Media.
3. Mobile video keeps on rolling
Mobile video advertising spend has grown by 63% in over 2017. And with 4 times as many consumers preferring video over static advertising, brands will continue to top up in 2018.
4. Mobile native creativity
As consumers spend a majority of their media time on mobile, expect mobile native interactive and vertical video formats and functionality to move front and centre. Marketers will make more use of mobile capabilities to engage consumers in 2018.
5. Consumer choice and permission based advertising
With the rise of subscription media like Netflix, and increased adoption of ad blockers, consumers have more choice over their exposure to ads. Rewarded ads on mobile get 68% approval ratings from consumers, compared to only 20% who approve of pre-roll.
6. Mobile only consumers
With 65% of consumers in emerging markets already mobile only, and those in developed economies very much mobile first, the next generation may never experience the internet the way we do. Avid voice searchers, and heavy app users who avoid the desktop, they will see the world in a whole new way.
7. Mobile brand safety tracking and viewability grows up
Mobile devices are personal, so it’s even more crucial that advertising is delivered in a way that works for both advertisers and customers. Brand safety and viewability measurement will drive increased scrutiny of media investment, and a cleaner advertising experience for consumers.
8. Programmatic growth
Advertising spend is shifting fast to programmatic, and even faster from desktop to mobile. With mobile video set to account for 28% of ALL ad spend by 2019 it’s time to get on the mobile programmatic train.
Marketing Matters is a monthly column covering how marketers today can use Digital to drive innovation and results
When you strip away the complexity of the outer shell, omni-channel marketing is essentially thinking holistically about the customer: their experiences, your interactions with them and the messaging you want to transmit to them. In our new mobile-centric world, there are an unlimited number of ways to do this.
As marketers, we are always searching for windows into the world of the customer – ways to connect with them and collect useful, contextually-relevant data. Today’s mobile technology is like a giant pane of glass, which lifts the curtain on the customer, enabling us to see their inner workings like never before and connect with them on entirely new levels.
This is a recent phenomenon though; in the past, mobile marketing was rudimentary and derivative – in general, websites were designed for desktops only and mobile sites were scaled-down or simplified versions of these. Designed to be simple extensions of the full ‘big screen’ sites, mobile websites were often more of an afterthought than something marketers devoted a lot of time to.
Giving mobile campaigns top priority
Today the situation is very different. Beginning in around 2013, forward-thinking marketers began taking a ‘mobile first’ attitude. With the incredible power and in-built functionality of today’s smartphones, businesses can interact with their customers in a myriad of different ways – through different touch points and new interfaces created between online and offline content thanks to augmented reality apps and the powerful cameras and processors of the next generation smartphones.
An illustration of just how far things have come is IKEA’s market-leading catalogue app, which harnesses the power of smartphones and uses augmented reality features to allow potential buyers to preview what IKEA furniture looks like in their actual homes. The experience begins when the app asks users to gather rich media content like videos and 360 degree views of a room on their phone cameras. Users then ‘drop’ selected furniture items on top of the images, previewing what they would look like in the room. Another nifty O2O feature of the app – the ‘virtual shopping list’ – is designed to be used both before and during shopping trips to physical stores. Searching for a product in the app or adding it to a shopping list will show its location within the store. A barcode scanning feature then allows customers to scan a price tag in-store and pull up additional information about the product or add it to a wish list.
But the true strength of IKEA’s omni-channel strategy extends above and beyond their mobile strategy and this excellent app. Indeed, it is their holistic view and understanding of their customer base which allows the app to succeed. They have a strong social media strategy, offering followers across numerous channels useful and appropriate household tips and tricks. Their Instagram account showcases before and after shots of home improvement projects, and their iconic physical stores underpin everything with their vibrant, magnetic presence.
Bringing it all together
IKEA gets it. Most of us have now realised that mobile marketing – indeed all online marketing – requires constant care and attention. Unlike a brand’s bricks and mortar shops, which have an enduring material presence, online campaigns don’t really ‘exist’ in the physical world, so you need to consistently work at them, refine them and retool them to make sure they’re doing what you want them to do.
Maybe this is one reason why Zalora, the Asia-based online fashion platform, chose to open a pop-up store in Hong Kong earlier this year. This store provided a seamless omni-channel customer experience in an unusual way: by acting as an offline ‘fitting room’ for the brand. The space looked just like a regular clothing store – customers could see, feel and try on the clothes – but when it came to making a purchase, they needed to go online, either by scanning a QR code and downloading the Zalora app or by placing an order online via an in-store computer. This temporary ‘clicks and mortar’ store helped boost brand awareness, generate new customers, increase sales and underline the reliability of the brand.
By understanding the customer journey and integrating social media channels, physical stores and online capabilities, your brand can also create synergy and provides a seamless, consistent and relevant brand experience – the essence of omni-channel.
Epicentro specialises in digital content development and is a member of the Pico Group
Awarded ‘Events Standard of Excellence’ and ‘Marketing Standard of Excellence’ in 2015 WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development by the Web Marketing Association
Daniel has been with Pico for over 15 years and is a seasoned event marketing industry professional. Foreseeing the ample opportunities presented by the world’s rapidly-changing technological landscape, Daniel began planning for a new business unit specialising in digital content solutions in 2010. Commencing full operations in 2014, Epicentro has spearheaded the development of unconventional technologies, helping our clients reach and stay on top of the market. Under Daniel’s leadership, Epicentro has established a strong client list spanning the commercial and government sectors: AIA, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Amway, Dragages, the government’s Environmental Protection Department and Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Jardine, Suntory and Watsons.