It’s reckoned there are some 500 million smartphone users in China. As with the rest of the developed world, smartphones have fundamentally altered the way Chinese consumers make purchasing decisions. The world of commerce has responded by adopting mobile marketing strategies[BC1] akin to those being used in the US and Europe. But will the same tactics be just as effective in China as they are in the West? Or do mobile marketing campaigns need to be adjusted?
To better understand the differences between Chinese and international mobile markets, let’s first take a look at the similarities. Most smartphone users in China access the web using a mobile device, irrespective of whether they are located in the city or in rural areas. SMS is proving just as popular as it is everywhere else, with 71% of businesses primarily using texts for mobile marketing.
Despite the growth in mobile, China remains in thrall to more traditional advertising channels. When asked about their favorite marketing methods, 66% of businesses chose old-fashioned paper mail, and only 34% chose email. But SMS was the second most popular channel with a 61% adoption rate. Close to 90% of businesses agreed that SMS marketing was an effective strategy.
But not everyone is on board. According to recent Experian research that looked at 321 businesses across a wide range of industries, only 36% of Chinese enterprises had tried mobile marketing, compared to 65% of Hong Kong enterprises.
Overall, the future looks bright for China’s mobile industry. Apple recently predicted they would sell about 10 million iPhones in 2014. However, the company has indicated that Chinese consumers, by and large, prefer large-screen devices for checking emails, browsing the web and streaming music and video. Every other fourth generation smartphone offered by China Mobile as a display at least half an inch bigger than Apple’s 4-inch iPhone.
To tackle the demand, Apple may introduce two larger-screen iPhones this year. One commenter, Miao Zhiwen, a banker, said he would use the Apple device mainly for phone calls on account of the screen being too tiny for work:
Such invaluable insights into the national consumer psyche cannot be ignored by marketers. China is a vast – and expanding – market, and well worth tweaking existing mobile marketing strategies to accommodate.