Google reveals Hong Kong's smartphone habits

31 Aug 2011
People use smartphones for different things. If you’re a smartphone user in Hong Kong, chances are you use it for search, social networking and comparison-shopping. Online shopping, not so much.
That’s according to Google, which previewed results of an upcoming global smartphone survey on Tuesday in Hong Kong. The full results – which cover 30 markets worldwide, including 11 in Asia – will be posted online in a couple of months. But Ryan Hayward, Google’s mobile product marketing manager for Asia-Pacific, says the findings in Hong Kong indicate that smartphone usage is creating serious opportunities for local advertisers, developers and merchants.
On the advertising front, 78% of smartphone users said they have noticed mobile ads on their handsets (even though just 26% notice them all the time), with 47% spotting them on mobile search engines and 40% on apps.
Meanwhile, after seeing mobile ads, 25% of users visited the website of the advertiser, and 23% said that they would click on mobile ads to learn more about a particular product.
Interestingly, smartphones are extending their influence into the bricks-and-mortar retail world. According to the survey, 37% of Hong Kong smartphone users use their devices to compare or learn about products in stores, and 22% said they’ve decided not to buy a product they otherwise might have bought after using smartphones to comparison-shop.
“That raises interesting implications for marketers, because now not only do they have to do a lot of work to get their products on retail shelves and promote them, they also have to deal with the possibility that a customer is going to use their smartphone to try and find a better deal,” Hayward says.
As for actually buying stuff online via smartphones, less than a quarter of users in Hong Kong have ever done so – and those that have typically buy things like movie tickets, financial services, cosmetics, clothing, travel, apps, transportation and electronics, among other things.
However, Hayward insists there’s a huge potential for online shopping in Hong Kong, with 33% of respondents saying they would be willing to make an online purchase using a smartphone. The reason most haven’t, he says, isn’t a question of security fears so much as the fact that most web sites with e-commerce functions aren’t optimized for smartphones yet.
“It’s not yet a good shopping experience on the phone,” he says. “Once web sites are optimized to make it easier, more people will shop on smartphones – it's just a matter of time.”
Hayward added that payment and billing methods can be a barrier as well. “If it’s a site where you already have your Visa card or some payment account registered, then you’re more likely to buy something. If you have to spend a lot of time entering bank or credit card details, that’s a big barrier. Basically, the less liquid the currency, the greater the barrier.”

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