Emily Tan
Apr 24, 2012

Consumers in Asia eager to adopt location-based services: TNS mobile-marketing study

GLOBAL - For marketers looking to leverage mobile's popularity, location-based services (LBS) are their best bet, according to TNS. The insights firm's 'Mobile Life Study' found that more than 60 per cent of mobile-phone users worldwide who don't yet use LBS said they want to.

James Fergusson
James Fergusson

TNS' annual Mobile Life study explored mobile use among 48,000 people in 58 countries. The study showed that the majority of people around the world recognize the value of sharing their location to benefit from a range of services. Globally, almost 30 per cent of the world’s 6 billion people are using smartphones, and in developed Asia-Pacific countries (which includes Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and New Zealand), this figure climbs to over 42 per cent.

Of the many features the smartphone provides, one of the most popular non-core services is LBS, with nearly two in 10 mobile users already using it. Most users globally would like to use LBS for navigation (46 per cent), but there is also growing interest in more diverse activities, with 13 per cent of current social-network users ‘checking-in’ on platforms like Foursquare or Facebook Places—a 50 per cent increase from 2011.

James Fergusson, global head, digital and technology practice, at TNS was not surprised at this finding, commenting that it was a trend "waiting to happen".

“Improving networks, GPS services and smartphones were three things needed to make LBS a real factor in mobile user’s lives," he said in an exclusive interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific. "The service is currently very much driven by maps usage, but users are keen to use it for far more than that."

Some of these additional uses include using LBS to find nearby friends (22 per cent). Over a quarter use the technology to find restaurants and entertainment venues (26 per cent) or check public transport schedules (19 per cent) or book a taxi (8 per cent).

“As an example, a friend of mine was in a Roxette concert in Melbourne and saw a number of friends were checked into the concert," he said. "They managed to get together for a drink before the show started. Imagine if the event management had actively leveraged this and provided a whole new level of consumer utility or value to their consumers by adding LBS.”

Most interesting to marketers is the fact that LBS users are willing to share their locations with brands and retailers, with one in eight sharing their location in exchange for a deal or a special offer.

“It’s such a major opportunity for brands when they can communicate with consumers and target them when they’re at a relevant location,” said Fergusson. This is particularly true because users are most open to advertising when it’s at the right place and right time, he said.

TNS’ study found that, even beyond the current users of LBS, a third of people globally who are already using or would like to use mobile voucher schemes are most keen to receive deals when they’re near a store they like. Despite more than a fifth of mobile-phone users asserting that they find “all advertising annoying”, the same percentage have indicated that they would be interested if the advertisement was for a deal near their location (21 per cent), if the deal was related to something the mobile user is interested in (23 per cent) or if the deal is related to something the user is searching for (18 per cent).

In all markets, few are as open to location-based mobile advertising as those in developed Asia. More than three in 10 said they’d be interested in mobile advertising if it related to something they were interested in, if it was a deal near their current location (28 per cent) and if it was connected to something they were searching for (25 per cent).

One market in Asia that is lagging behind in LBS is China. Although 36 per cent of mobile users in Asia are using location-services to find restaurants and entertainment values nearby, only 17 per cent are doing so in China.

Fergusson continued: “These regional variations highlight the importance of having a targeted strategy when it comes to location-based marketing. LBS offers marketers an unprecedented level of engagement and targeting, however it has to be done in line with how people in individual markets want to engage with brands to avoid being intrusive. Where brands get it right, we have seen significant rewards in terms of brand engagement, loyalty and sales.”

Beyond LBS, the study also charted the impact the high-takeup of smartphones has made on the consumer path to purchase. “Consumers used to receive advertising messages via mass media, wander off to the store, and when there, interact with point-of-sale (POS) material and the sales person, then make a purchase decision,” explained Fergusson. The entire process was a lot easier to manage from a marketer’s standpoint, he added.

“Now, consumers have the power to research the product on Google, on product review sites, to do price comparisons via QR code apps and counter the arguments of sales people,” Fergusson said. Over the past three months, 21 per cent of smartphone users globally have used their phones to purchase or help research something they have bought. In developed Asia, the number more than doubles to 45 per cent. For brands, not having a mobile strategy today is POS suicide, he commented.

“Any organization around the world targeting consumers needs a mobile strategy," he said. "It’s the top way people consume marketing messages and sales material from brands. More people have mobiles than any other tech product and from our digital life study, as people go online, people tend to access the Internet more, on their mobile, than they watch TV or read newspapers."

To reach consumers effectively, a mobile strategy must have the ability to meet five consumer needs, advised Fergusson:

1. Convenience: Features that make day to day chores easier for the consumer such as mobile banking and NFC-based loyalty systems that allow users to just use their phones instead of toting around a stack of loyalty cards.

2. Independence: Freeing consumers from the computer terminal so they have the ability to use the internet wherever and whenever they want. Examples include in-store Wi-Fi and travel apps that allow users to tour countries and plan trips from the back of a cab.

3. Relevance: LBS offers are the best example of this as it’s mobile advertising reaching people when they’re at the right place to take advantage of it.

4. Experience: With consumers carrying a sophisticated bit of tech in their pockets, marketers have the opportunity to really make an impact with a unique experience. Examples include augmented reality advertising such as iButterfly and interactive billboards.

5. Transparency: As users can and will research product reviews while shopping and conduct price comparisons with QE code and bar code apps, marketers should be aware and build trust by ensuring consumers don’t have to doubt their claims.


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