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Explosive Growth Of Smartphones: What’s In Store For Marketers, Advertisers And Researchers?

By Pala Kuppusamy, Founder of iPinion


Smartphones are changing everything. Not just the way we communicate, but the way we consume information, media and entertainment as well.  More people are spending more time on their smartphones and handhelds. Reports say that on average, an iphone user spends about 100 minutes per day on the apps. Not sure how many of us spend that much time on TV anymore.

What we know as web in the classical sense is changing. Internet is live and kicking, but in new avatars: like in the little smartphones. The app culture is catching up so much that there is an even an app for making confessions and I last heard that Vatican is issuing warning against that app. (check out: confessapp)

The apps are taking the traffic away from web; away from the search engines. This app culture can mean many things to many businesses. The app culture got even Google so worried, that they’re vigorously working on hybrid app technology to promote web apps and keep the traffic on web, because if they lose visibility or search ability, they lose their power.

This new decade is bringing a new challenge and opportunity to marketers, advertisers and researchers in the form of smartphone proliferation; just the same way internet did in last two decades.

The magnitude of this wave is so huge, that I need this chart below from Mary Meeker Feb 2011 report, to give you an idea.

smartphone growth

It is hard to believe that 27% of mobile subscribers in USA are shopping only via mobile commerce sites and they’re not going into physical stores or even to regular online stores. But this is what comScore found out in their Q2 2010 survey on mobile users.

Marketers, Advertisers and Brand managers have taken serious note of this trend. There are apps from almost every large retailer, every large consumer goods company and every large restaurant chain. Car brands are using apps to promote their sales. Pharma companies are using apps to educate their consumers and stay in touch with them. More than a billion dollar was spent on mobile advertisements in 2010.

What could this all mean to Market Researchers?

Firstly, it’s a wake up call. Smartphone users are accounting for one third of the US population and about to be half by this year end. It is important to include them in MR surveys to gain inclusive and comprehensive insights of the market place. People of certain demographics are very hard to reach for online surveys. Two thirds of smartphone owners whom we surveyed (n=8700) said they are likely or very likely to take surveys on smartphone app instead of online survey. A sharp message.

Secondly, as the brand managers and marketers are starting to understand the smartphone growth and associated behavioral change, they are getting ready to spend billions in advertisements targeting these users. This translates to a large opportunity for market researchers if they are equipped to do studies on / including the smartphone user base. Getting ready for surveys on the go, and reaching people where they are better engaged will become need of the day.

Thirdly, no.. no.. no.. Lets stop here. My point is made.

(For those who find this blog interesting but incomplete, there is more on this topic available in a deck that we used for a recent webinar organized by iPinion. Click here to download.)

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