UAE tablet, smartphone users embrace m-retail: report

Marketers must tailor services to channel and category dynamics, says TNS

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UAE tablet, smartphone users embrace m-retail: report Hamilton-Clark: Marketers should… use mobile to deliver an improved experience that inspires, while saving time and money.
By Staff Writer Published  November 4, 2013

Smartphone ownership in the UAE has outstripped the global average by more than 30 percentage points, according to a recent study by market research firm TNS.

The annual TNS Mobile Life Study shows that 78% of UAE residents own a smartphone compared to the global average of 42%, at the same time indicating that nearly 40% of consumers in the Emirates either own, or are looking to own, a tablet.

Findings place mobile communication as integral to the UAE lifestyle, saying it remains the most popular device for instant messaging at 46%, with playing games and accessing social networks at 44% and 34% respectively.

The study goes on to reveal that at 19%, tablet ownership in the UAE is also considerably higher than the global average hovering at 12%. TNS' regional chief executive officer, Steve Hamilton-Clarke noted that there has been a sharp increase in tablet sales in the UAE in the past 12 months.

"There is a comfortable dance going on," he said. "As organisations and governments embrace mobile apps and m-commerce technology, consumers embrace a smartphone. In fact, around half of the world's mobile owners are ready to use their phone to make purchases and manage money, and here lies the opportunity for UAE businesses across the board."

He noted that usage share, or time spent on a device, is expected to grow for tablets at the expense of smartphones and laptops suggesting that tablet usage is considered a more fun, relaxing activity likely driven by its ease and convenient size in comparison to a desktop or laptop. Indeed, research shows that in the UAE, 67% use their tablet in the evenings, closely followed by "in bed before sleeping", "when I go on holiday", and "while watching TV".

Mobile's effect on retail

"Mobile affords unparalleled growth opportunities and we urge marketers to fast appreciate this or face being left behind. Marketers need to embrace this technology, and must do so quickly making sure to tailor services to category and channel dynamics," explained Hamilton-Clark.

"Looking at hypermarkets as an example, shoppers see value in mobile apps that provide services such as bulk-buy shopping lists and coupons with promotions on regular purchases, while convenience stores would more likely benefit from apps on quick-to-find products and mobile wallet services."

Hamilton-Clark added that mobile services that can be deployed swiftly to meet a new demand or need, save time at the shelf and carry shopper benefits, will also help fuel category growth, warning that on the flipside mobile services that interrupt shoppers will have the opposite effect.

"Marketers should look to go beyond the average shopping experience and use mobile to deliver an improved experience that inspires, while saving time and money," Hamilton-Clark said.

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