In our analysis of the emerging markets last year, we had observed how companies, especially E-commerce brands had started adopting a mobile-first strategy. The change was driven by consumers whose choice today when it comes to access to internet or content consumption is always mobile.
The trend has since continued and the emerging connected billion consumers' preference for smartphones to access internet and content has led to marketers increasing their focus on mobile.
For instance, one of India's leading online fashion retailer, Myntra recently announced its plans to be available as a mobile-only app from May 1, 2015. 80% of the brand's traffic and 70% of sales come from mobile. The decision to go from mobile-also to mobile-only was therefore only the next logical progression. Indian E-commerce major Flipkart, also plans to go mobile-only in a year.Many companies across India and other emerging markets are going mobile-first owing to the fact that today, most of their traffic in these markets comes from mobile.
According to StatCounter estimates, 71% of all internet traffic in India today comes from mobile, while 29% comes from desktops. In Indonesia, the share of mobile internet traffic is 54% and trends suggest that it will continue to grow.
On the other hand, internet traffic in the US via mobile was just 30% while that in UK, was close to 29%. As opposed to developed markets where desktop and broadband penetration is quite high, growing smartphone adoption coupled with improving mobile internet connectivity made mobile the first device for all Internet access in emerging markets.
Smartphones have also made internet much more accessible, especially for the next wave of consumers, which are coming from semi-urban and rural areas. This has opened up more opportunities for brands to go beyond metros and reach out to a consumer base which could not be easily tapped into earlier.
This trend has completely redefined how brands engage their connected consumers in emerging markets today. Brands such as Myntra and Flipkart which started with an online desktop presence that was later extended to mobile are today completely moving away from desktop web and adopting a mobile-only strategy. Others such as Zomato, BookMyShow, Ola Cabs are promoting their mobile apps over their desktop web presence.
Television broadcasters such Star TV and Direct-to-Home cable TV providers such as Tata Sky and Airtel have also realized that much of their audience is on mobile today, and extended their services on smartphones via mobile apps. Today, mobile apps such Hotstar (from Star TV) are seeing a very high demand from consumers.
Then there is the next wave of brands such as Tiny Owl who have started out as a mobile-only app. Taking cues from the fact that the quickest and best way to reach their audience today is on mobile, such brands have completely avoided building a desktop website.
It is clear that in emerging markets, marketers looking to engage their consumers online cannot go with just a mobile-also strategy. They must take the mobile-first route because when it comes to emerging markets it is mobile where their audience is today.