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Western brands are failing to connect with emerging markets due to lack of local understanding

LONDON, 24 April 2014 – Amazon is rumoured to be planning extensions to its existing mobile content offering that could include a music streaming service and even a dedicated ‘Amazon’ smartphone. However, the global online retailer is losing ground to its ‘Big 3’ key competitors Apple, Google and Microsoft in emerging markets, according to new research from Upstream. In fact, the most recognised brand in emerging markets is hardware manufacturer Samsung (88%), closely followed by Google (87%), Apple (85%) and Microsoft (82%). Amazon, on the other hand, was only recognised by around half (56%) of those surveyed.

This latest data comes from ‘The Next Mobile Frontier’ report, from mobile marketing expert Upstream, which polled the views of a representative sample of 4,504 consumers in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Vietnam in conjunction with analyst house Ovum. Over half of those surveyed (52%) said that Apple is the brand that they currently spend money or would like to spend more on in the future. Microsoft (48%) and Google (43%) were not far behind, but Amazon clearly still has much work to do, with only 21% of those surveyed wanting to or currently spending money with the brand.

Cost is still a major concern for consumers in emerging markets, with over a third of consumers (35%) saying that they felt mobile content was expensive, while also noting that they were not aware of promotions/offers that would incentivise them to purchase more on their mobile (32%). As far as navigating relevant portals or app stores, 24% of respondents reported that it can be difficult to find the relevant content on their mobile device.

Marco Veremis, CEO, Upstream, comments: “Emerging markets offer a huge opportunity for both mobile hardware manufacturers and content provider alike, but there are clearly winners and losers in the race to dominance in these new markets. This latest research shows that while the ‘Big 3’ of Apple, Google and Microsoft are using a combination of hardware and content to attract customers, this is squeezing out other players like Amazon. This could very well be one of the reasons that Amazon is possibly moving into the music streaming service and even toying with the idea of an ‘Amazon phone’.”


Global vs Local – Content is the key to success

Consumers in emerging markets also had a marked difference in how they viewed global and local brands that they purchase mobile content and apps from (see Fig. 1 below). The major benefit of buying from a local brand, according to these responses, was that most people find they can trust the content is in their local language or dialect (78%) and includes cultural references or is expressed in a way they can understand (76%). On the other hand, 70% of respondents stated that global brands offer the best content in the market, tending to keep users up-to-date with the latest developments.

These figures point to the need for global brands to provide local language and relevant content to consumers in emerging markets in order to find long-term success. In fact, when asked about how important it was for ‘Western’ brands to provide localised content for mobile, those surveyed said this was particularly important for news, social networks and health services. Veremis adds, “The challenge for Western brands in a diverse range of different emerging markets is to be able to deliver interesting and relevant content to each consumer, in a way and language that they easily understand. This is no mean feat, but the benefits are clear. While consumers in these countries trust in these global brands and believe that they have the best content, there is still a way to go to beat out local brands that can more easily offer the right content to its own countrymen. Whether it’s one of the ‘Big 3’ taking the extra step to deliver truly localised content, or Amazon trying to catch-up to its rivals, the key to success is clear: local content is king.”


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