Nielsen insights into consumer trends in mobile, social and digital in Australia

Today at Media140 DigitalBusiness conference Michael Walton, Executive Director Consumer & Business Intelligence at Nielsen Pacific, revealed some consumer research behind key trends in mobile, social and digital across Australia. Lots of stats but very revealing…

Australia has the 5th highest internet use per capita in the world: 81% (14.7m households) have online access, with the average Australian now spending 22 hours online each week. There have been big shifts in device ownership: tablet ownership has risen from 8% in 2010 to a forecasted 39% in 2012; eReader ownership has grown from 7% in 2010 to a forecasted 26% in 2012; and desktop ownership has dropped, from 82% in 2010 to a forecast 79% in 2012, overtaken by laptop ownership which is forecast at 83% in 2012. Smartphone ownership has rocketed: 51% of phones are now ‘smart’, and for those under 34 its at 70%. (In a later presentation, Rob Farmer specified that 2.6 million Australians currently own tablets, set to increase to 6 million by 2015).

Walton reports that the way consumers interact with the internet changes radically when accessed through a smartphone. In short, engagement grows in terms of both time online and the range of activities. For example, 75% of Australian’s currently media multitask, including 60% second screen, and 33% are online while commuting. Some 66% of Australians now have a social media profile, and 54% update these via mobile.

The average smartphone has 34 apps, and of these probably 33% were purchased and the remainder were free to download.  One in four mobile apps downloaded are never used. Taking games out of the picture, Australian consumers are looking for more functional and diagnostic apps: transport, banking/finance, government services, medical, maps/directions and weather related. Walton advises that, if not working in these six areas, producers should think how to make any app functional and diagnostic to drive user uptake. The challenge for any app according to Walton: make things easier.

Broadcast TV hours have increased, so although how Australians watch TV has changed, net consumption of broadcast content is rising. Interestingly, Walton comments that those watching on-demand / catch-up are less likely to multitask as the primary consumption is at their time of choosing.

Walton revealed that the internet is now Australia’s No. 1 preferred and trusted information source. This is critical for marketing and brand management: consumers now trust a recommendation online as much as a recommendation from a friend. Indeed, Walton identified this as the biggest global trend of last year: brand engagement online has been “embraced as if they were friends”. Walton’s conclusion for online consumer trends: anytime, anywhere and trusted.

Update: Later in the conference Venessa Paech, talking on community commerce, revealed that 60-80% of Australian businesses still don’t have a website. This is a huge disconnect given that Australian consumers will spend $33b online this year (up from $22b in 2008 and forecast to $37b in 2013).  And that while 62% of Australians have a social media profile, only 14% of small businesses use it to listen or communicate with customers.

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