Babar Khan Javed
Jun 11, 2018

Australia's top mobile-friendly brands

Samsung, Apple and Google emerge as Australia's preferred mobile-friendly brands, while our experts cite less-known companies that are doing mobile and social right.

Australia's top mobile-friendly brands

As part of our look at Australia's top brands of 2018, part of the Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, we asked five in-markets experts for their insights into Australia's most mobile-friendly brands.

Nielsen’s research shows that the most mobile-friendly brands in Australia today are Samsung, Apple, and Google. Do you agree? If so, what are they doing right?

Andrew Burke, MD of Outbrain: It’s little surprise to see Apple and Samsung on the list, considering how they are both global, premium smartphone brands. Google, meanwhile, has made ripples with its relentless focus on intuitive and deeply personalised user experiences—be it at home, work, or on the go. 

When Google tweaked its search algorithm, website owners were forced to optimise their sites for smaller screens. In other words, any site on Google had to be easily usable and readable from a mobile device in order to rank well.

To break the mobile market, Google brought AI into smartphones and cameras, and later launched a feature capable of anticipating consumers’ app usage patterns. Aimed at tackling complaints about mobile battery efficiency, an important feature for consumers, this move naturally set Google up against traditional smartphone manufacturers.

Craig Flanders, CEO of Spinach: Interestingly, all three are mobile phone brands. But with almost 60% of Australian web traffic coming from phones, and the vast majority of interaction on social platforms coming via mobile, it’s not surprising that these brands hold a special place in the hearts of consumers. These days, all brands have to seriously think “mobile-first” when developing for the web. But these brands are the ultimate facilitators to all things online and social so it makes perfect sense. 

Dan Monheit, director of strategy at Hardhat Digital: If the modern definition of a brand is what it does, rather than what it says, then Google, Apple and Samsung are certainly leaders in mobile—and it’s not hard to see why. All three have committed themselves deeply to excelling in this space, through relentless innovation in both hardware and software.

This commitment has ensured that they stay at the bleeding edge of the most important device in the lives of today's consumers. Between them, they’re essentially writing the playbook that the rest of the industry is desperately trying to follow.

Apple paved the way for many of the revolutionary gestures that we now take for granted, including the swipe, the ‘pinch to zoom’ and the long press. Apple also first brought the concept of the digital ecosystem to life, through the iPhone, iTunes and the App Store.

Google has been a huge contributor to the ever-improving world of mobile interface design, even creating its own design language in 2014. ‘Material Design’, as it came to be known, popularised the ‘card based’ design system we now see across millions of mobile apps and websites. Beyond this, the search giant has done more than anyone else in the world to enhance the mobile web experience, by forcing tens of millions of other brands to improve their own mobile browsing experience or risk being de-prioritised in Google search results.

And while Samsung can't lay claim to the same level of innovation as Apple and Google, they have done an incredible job of pushing the boundaries of hardware, especially with their flagship Galaxy series. In doing so, they’ve also made a huge contribution to reducing the price of smartphones, accelerating their spread across society and the globe.

So it’s no surprise, and certainly no accident, that these three brands are considered the most mobile friendly in 2018. The real question is whether they can maintain the rate of innovation to stay ahead of the pack, or if they’ve just set the table for the next great disruptor to come along and feast at.

Tim Riches, group strategy director at Principals: Apple and Samsung are synonymous with the rise of the smartphone as the most significant product that most Australians own; the aspirational device that is part fashion statement, part addiction and part identity amplifier. These are products and brands that occupy more of our attention than any other. And Google is the flag-bearer of digital life – the natural connection between our mobile device and the world. They are just so ingrained with our mobile experience that I’d expect no other brand to command our mindshare.

Which social media platforms can really make or break brands in Australia? 

Burke: Australia sees some of the highest internet penetration globally, broadly attributed to social usage on mobile—a fast-growing area at 7% year-over-year. Across prominent social platforms, Facebook still reigns supreme, and this has challenged Australian brands to rethink spends on mobile-social.

A brand I love is Vinomofo—an Australian online wine seller that curates wines from across the globe. Their social strategy, comprehensively executed across all platforms and content—a great mix of thought leadership, wine trends and product reviews—is a fantastic example of how far a small brand can go by leveraging interest targeting, being creative. This has enabled them to cut through a competitive marketplace, and expand across Australia, Asia and now the US.

Flanders: Facebook is still the number one social channel in Australia; however, YouTube is rapidly catching up as it develops a teen following, with Instagram in third place.

In 2017, the top two Australian Facebook pages measured by engagement were Showpo and Popcherry which are online fashion brands. However, Popcherry was one of the most complained about online fashion retailers in the country so it’s fair to say social media has the power to make or break brands. Having a high engagement rate on social will never trump an overarching customer-centric focus.

Russ Mitchinson, head of strategy, ANZ at Essence: In the Australian market, Facebook and Instagram are the platforms brands have to be on. Locally, Facebook has levels of penetration on par with broadcast TV, so if you’re going to appeal to a mass-market mainstream audience, you need to ensure your messaging works on Facebook, in particular, which I now see as more of a mass-reach platform than just a social media platform. Australian brands need to work more closely with these platforms to ensure the creative being produced is made for mobile video. This is a key battleground for consumers’ minds, hearts and wallets.

Two examples of brands that have utilised mobile and social well in the Australian market that spring to mind are Snickers for its multi-award winning work ‘Hungerithm’ from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. The campaign saw the prices of chocolate bars drop based on how angry people were on the internet. This was made possible through the smart use of a custom algorithm to map the ‘emotion’ of the internet in real-time. The campaign also enabled consumers to redeem vouchers at a point-of-sale, successfully closing the gap between online and offline.

The second example comes from VML for McDonald’s. The ‘Snaplications’ campaign was a smart use of Snapchat as a medium for a Gen Y audience. It saw people apply for a job at McDonald’s on Snapchat using a filter that put them in a crew uniform. This was an effective piece of brand utility from Snapchat.

Riches: Facebook really channels middle Australia as the echo-chamber of everyday concerns and values. When Big W sold Christmas trees using non-denominational language (think Grand Pine Tree and White Forest Tree) the Facebook shitstorm was of biblical proportions. The absence of civil rules of engagement on the platform makes it a challenging environment for brands with a fair share of detractors, and with boards putting an increasing focus on company social license, brand managers will need to tread pretty carefully. 

Google reviews are an interesting one—an intrinsic part of my search experience with the imprimatur of Google, they seem to hold a special credibility. I wonder how much thought goes into those star ratings versus the esteem in which they’re held.

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