Mobile evolution – the hierarchy of needs has changed and mobile advertisers should take note

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Mobile devices are no longer a necessity, they’ve become a primal need. Almost a third of Americans said they would rather give up sex for a year than their phones. Now, research firm comScore has examined the evidence from across nine markets including USA, Canada, UK, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and Indonesia to guide our understanding of audience consumption and trends.

According to the Mobile’s Hierarchy of Needs report, consumers prefer apps over web when it comes to mobile usage. That’s hardly surprising given the ease and speed that apps have been built to deliver. In addition, round the clock availability of mobile devices means that apps have come to match consumers’ lives. That’s evident in the daily usage statistics.

However, mobile consumption varies dramatically across various categories and differs strongly with desktop usage. Using data from Canada, the report finds that consumption can be broadly split into four areas – some of which are experiencing increased usage such as retail, weather and health, compared to those which are largely desktop-dominated including portals and entertainment.

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The primary needs that drive human motivation can be roughly divided into Physiological (which includes Health, Apparel, Retail, Food and Real estate app categories), Safety (Banking, Weather, Career services), Love and Belonging (Personals), Esteem (news and social networks), and Self-Actualisation (Travel).

So let’s look at these in more detail.

Physiological – These are primary human survival and health requirements such as air, food and water, but also clothing and shelter. On mobile, they are met by an increasing demand and availability for food deliveries as evident in the UK data from 2016.

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In addition, fashion retail has seen a true surge of mobile usage across the US and European markets. In the UK alone, apparel reaches 47% of mobile consumers, compared to 11% in China.

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The rise in health apps that track movement or offer exercises have seen a solid increase in mobile users. In Canada, usage increased by 43% between January 2016 to January 2017.

Safety – Mobile makes people feel more secure – whether that relates to information about weather conditions, financial or career security.

Banking is an interesting sector to take a closer look at. Historically, consumers have been rather concerned about the security of financial apps. However, that hasn’t stopped them adapting their banking needs to mobile. We believe that this is largely driven by ease of use and 24/7 availability of mobile devices.

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Weather is another top category when it comes to mobile usage with large numbers of mobile-only users across the total digital population. That’s likely driven by many users checking weather apps whilst on the go.

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Love/Belonging – The mobile connection has created new avenues to build and maintain human relationships.

Whilst mobile dating tends to skew towards those aged under 35 years, the personals category shows more of a trend toward the over 35s. This tends to equal out across some of the regions.

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In terms of methods of communication, mobile video has seen an upsurge of 123%. That’s likely driven by apps such as Snapchat and added functionalities for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Instant messaging services on the other hand were up 8%, whilst text messaging has dropped a whopping 28%.

The usage of the top five messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, QQ messenger) has seen a surge in market adoption across Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Out of these, Facebook Messenger appears to be responsible for the majority of time spent in-app in the US. WhatsApp however dominates Europe and Latin America. Meanwhile, China and Indonesia are dominated by local brands such as Line, QQ and WeChat.

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Esteem – Esteem is the primal human desire to be valued by others. This drives social behaviours.

The report highlights that social media accounts for around 20-40% of all mobile minutes. However, an interesting trend has emerged. Users are no longer sharing their feelings or personal statuses as much, but instead have begun to share posts which reflect their own views. These could be political opinions or any other content. Potentially, this makes publishers highly valuable resources across social media platforms.

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Indeed, data from Spanish users shows that branded content consumption on social media has experienced a significant boost compared to personal content. In addition to sharing more published content on social media sites, these activities also mean that users tend to be more engaged with news and magazine sites.

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Self actualisation – This reflects a person’s travel pursuits and aspirations for me-time and self reflection.

Interestingly, travel minutes have seen quite the shift to mobile with user experiences of apps more refined. Consumers tend to spend 47% more time on mobile and 24% more time in apps whilst they are traveling, according to this UK data. This offers some interesting opportunities for local advertisers to reach consumers whilst they may be more open to suggestions. In addition, creative tools such as Instagram and Snapchat have made it an even more exciting experience to see new places and likewise demand more mobile time.

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However, the report outlines some interesting market and marketing deficits within mobile.

It seems that mobile retailers haven’t yet begun to fully take charge of the opportunity at hand. With consumer time for mCommerce significantly up, there appears to be a 49% gap. Some of the top reasons for consumers to not adapt to mobile commerce include security concerns (20%), visibility of product details and issues with navigating a product page (19-20%), as well as issues comparing details (20%).

For advertisers the message seems to be clear. Consumer app usage presents a broad range of new opportunities for creative solutions and also partnerships. However, in order to make use of such moments, marketers will have to fully understand their demographics and time spent on mobile devices.