How Brands Can Reach Consumers In Emerging Markets

eMarketer recently released a report saying digital will account for nearly a quarter of global advertising budgets in 2014. To keep up with the growing number of mobile phones worldwide and shifting preferences from desktop to mobile, marketers plan to spend more than $15 billion on mobile next year, a significant increase year-over-year, of almost 80 percent. Buoyed by mobile adaption in emerging markets, a majority of this growth is being led by investment in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

More than three out of every four of the world's six billion mobile phones are located in the developing world, opening many opportunities for marketers to reach this vast consumer base. But as mobile devices continue to proliferate throughout the globe, brands must include mobile as part of an integrated, multifaceted marketing plan. It will be through mobile devices that brands connect with emerging market consumers, and now is a critical time to evaluate mobile marketing strategies in developing countries.

Mobile tactics that have traditionally worked in the West simply put will not work in emerging markets. Paying close attention to the format of marketing efforts can greatly improve the success of mobile campaigns overseas.

One critical factor to remember is that although smartphone owners are becoming more common in emerging markets, most consumers still own and use basic feature phones and are excluded from the always-on Internet connections and app market. Traditional, mobile advertising channels, such as SEO, banner and in-app ads, are only visible to a very limited number of users.

Consumers in these markets are much more open to receiving promotional material over their mobile devices through SMS, whereas consumers in the West are inundated with digital marketing across mobile touchpoints. Data from our research shows that SMS marketing is the top mobile marketing channel in emerging markets, with more than half (51 percent) of consumers wanting to receive promotional messages in this way. This figure rises to 65 percent when the message is location-specific. Email marketing is another viable channel in these markets, with 43 percent of emerging market consumers stating they were open to promotions via email. More than one in ten (12 percent) stated they would be happy to receive phone calls regarding promotions.

While Western consumers are increasingly frustrated with the volume of marketing messages they receive across digital devices, emerging market consumers have not yet reached saturation. Our research found that consumers in emerging markets are much more open and willing to receive promotional material over their mobile devices because mobile is often the only way consumers can receive deals and offers, as well as learn about new products or services. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of consumers are happy to receive promotions from brands on a weekly basis, while one in five are happy to receive advertising daily. Up to seven percent of consumers are not unconcerned about advertising inundation, stating that they would be open to receiving promotional materials from a brand more than once a day.

As mobile advertising continues to grow globally, adapting strategies to reach consumers across the world is vital. Understanding the differences across each market will help ensure that messages are not sent too frequently and are received in the format that best encourages action. Ultimately taking time to thoughtfully determine the best format, frequency and channel across each market will help ensure adaptation and success.

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