Mobile Cocooning: How Growing Reliance on Smart Devices is Influencing Consumer Behaviour

103801596Euromonitor released today a new report today discussing the growth of mobile technology globally and its effect on consumers.  The rising usage of smartphones and tablets, along with consumers’ increasing reliance on apps, has dramatically changed the global digital landscape, exerting a strong influence on all aspects of lifestyles and behaviour.  As a result, the trend towards a home-centred lifestyle has given way to a movement towards mobile or
individual “cocooning”, whereby consumers are immersed in their own digital worlds anywhere at any time.

Alongside rising internet use, increasing web access via wireless devices and growth in smartphones are key factors contributing to the mobile revolution.  Euromonitor International’s Passport database also notes that mobile internet subscription figures grew substantially worldwide over the 2007-2012 period.  They were the highest in the US, with 236 million subscribers, followed by China with 233 million and Japan at 133 million.
Trends Highlighted in the Mobile Cocooning Briefing:

Commercial Impact

Due to the rapid growth of web-enabled devices, there has been a sharp increase in global sales of portable consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks.  China and Japan both overtook the US during the review period to become the largest markets for smartphones in 2012, worth US$39.7 billion andUS$20.5 billion, respectively.  The US was by far the most developed market for tablets in 2012, with sales of US$ 23.3 billion.  However, all other markets have grown dramatically since 2007 and there’s plenty of room for growth.  Regional brands of cheap tablets are making strong headway in emerging markets such as China, India and Russia.

Mobile Behaviour

According to Euromonitor International’s 2012 Out and About survey, 77% of respondents said they use their phone for texting, while 48% of respondents use social media sites.  Only 15% said they shop online using their phone, allowing room for growth within m-commerce.  While they may not be purchasing via their mobile phone, consumers are increasingly relying on user-generated content to help with buying decisions.  Ratings websites have become a power driver of behaviour and a growing number of apps enable consumers to read and write reviews directly from their mobile devices.  Mobile gaming has also seen an increase in popularity, along with travel apps and health and fitness trackers for smart phones.

Social Impact

In countries where the mobile cocooning trend is most developed, social problems have risen such as smartphone addiction, digital distraction, antisocial behaviour and a blurring of boundaries between work and leisure.

In the US, internet addiction has become classified as a mental disorder according to the 2013 Mobile Life report by O2. An estimated 20 million passengers in the UK missed bus or train stops due to being distracted by their smartphones.  The growing reliance on mobile phones to replace social interaction has led to the phrase, “phubbing”.  In Australia, a “Stop Phubbing” campaign group has begun, whose website allows companies to download posters or even place cards for weddings to discourage it.

Privacy Concerns

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that app developers, wireless providers and handset manufacturers can and do sell their personal information to other companies or organizations.  The EU introduced the “Cookie Directive” in 2012, requiring marketers and website owners in the EU to obtain consent from users before implementing cookies to capture online visitor information.