Arguably the fastest-growing technology the world has seen is mobile and it is also the biggest technological drive of social and economic change. The app economy has paved the way that enables for everything from games and entertainment, to education and healthcare, to retail and overall productivity; leaving an indelible mark on our daily lives. Adapting a strategy for the mobile world is necessary and thinking globally whilst acting locally has never been truer when it comes to global business. Your brand should represent consistent values and benefits, but the exact messaging and tactics must be tailored to fit the regional audience.
Asia Pacific (APAC) is at the forefront of mobile innovation, with the number of unique mobile subscribers having outpaced the rest of the world over the last decade, reaching 1.7 billion at the end of 2013. In 2017, it is expected the APAC region will reach 1.9 billion unique mobile subscribers, accounting for almost half of the predicted global total of 3.9 billion.
Because PC's are less advanced in Asia than in North America or Europe, the region is pioneering mobile innovation and companies need to start localising their strategies for these markets. Where Western products were once seen as sophisticated and desirable in these regions, this is no longer the case. Even in the most developed Asian countries, such as Japan, there's a whole class of people living in mobile who don't ever touch a PC. Globalisation has given consumers greater access to products and services and therefore greater choice and knowledge. In the developing countries, there's a whole class of people who don't have access to bank accounts, and the needs of this unbanked sector are being met through mobile - it is a great example why mobile innovation and advances in Asia really matter - it's just not the same in North America or Europe because the same needs do not exist.
Earlier this year, the festival of Asia Pacific, Warc and MMA teamed up for a mobile marketing survey and identified the most innovative markets for mobile are China (43%), Singapore (38%), Japan (33%) and Australia (31%). Innovation in the region is happening at many levels, from leading the way in advanced super-fast mobile services in mature markets to providing essential services such as education, healthcare and banking in the developing world. In every case, mobile operator investments are helping drive economic growth and creating jobs. Mobile has allowed individuals, companies and governments in Asian markets to innovate like never before; and the region that has often been slow to adopt technology for reason such as high costs and lack of education has taken to mobile with great ease. China, South Korea and India now lead the world in the mobile Commerce adoption. The main reason for this adoption is that the vast majority of users gained their first access to the internet via mobile as to desktop computers. Therefore having bypassed older technology there is a greater affinity, reliance and preference to mobile devices.
It is clear that mobile has had a remarkable impact on the business landscape. What is unexpected is how the power of mobile has been harnessed to provide solutions to the unique socio-economic challenges faced by Asia's emerging markets. Mobile apps have been used as a platform to provide remote healthcare services, banking facilities to rural areas, and educational resources and materials. It is this technology-enabled approach that has lead to a faster and more sustainable chance in many under-developed parts in Asia.
Understandably, the explosion in mobile has created a buzz amongst marketing and communication professionals in the region as they scramble to understand user behaviour and adapt communication campaigns accordingly. What does this mean for businesses in Asia Pacific? Digital marketing campaigns now must include strategies for mobile platforms.
Only through thinking globally about your brand and acting locally by discovering and embracing both regional and individual variation, you will be able to provide personally relevant experiences and messages that customers will actually welcome and respect. APAC audiences are open to receiving relevant, useful content on their mobiles and are willing to engage in mobile experiences that add value to their lives. Combining mobile with traditional media gives marketers the opportunity to extend the reach of their campaigns far beyond what was initially imagined.
As the mobile industry continues to grow and develop, with the emergence of new technologies like programmatic buying on mobile providing new and improved ways to effectively target audiences, it is crucial that marketers stay up-to-date to remain ahead of the game. The ability for agencies and brands to be agile in the light of new mobile marketing tools and methodologies will be essential for their survival in the marketplaces such as APAC and increasingly competitive mobile-sphere.