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‘Super Consumers’ to help India surpass China in smartphone growth

India is an exciting destination for all retailers and telecom service providers. Affordable handsets and a wider array of features have ensured that one in three phones shipped this year will be a smartphone, according to a report by Nielsen. Marketers believe these volumes will only grow, making India the market with the highest smartphone growth rate, surpassing even China.

The average Indian spends around two hours and 45 minutes per day on his or her smartphone. This is one of the highest usage statistics globally. Among its western counterparts, users in the US, spend only two hours and 27 minutes on their phones in comparison.

Heavy users of the internet are also substantially more involved with their phones than regular consumers. Although 33 per cent of smartphone users heavily use internet on their phones, these ‘Super Consumers’ can be very influential in trendsetting and influencing behaviours. They are also a huge area of opportunity for marketers of mobile applications, online products and digital services.

Based on data usage habits, Neilsen segmented smartphone users into three groups – heavy, medium and light. While the top 33 per cent and the bottom 33 per cent constitute heavy and light users, respectively, the remaining have been considered medium users.

The telecom super consumer typically is a tech-savvy, urban smartphone user and they utilise three times more data than regular consumers.

Predictably, teenagers form a huge chunk of the super consumer strata. The report found that the age group of 18 to 24 years spent approximately three hours per day on their smartphones. Interestingly, mobile world tends to feature more participation from men — 80 per cent of smartphone users are male while just 20 per cent are female.

There is a distinct correlation between the type of phone used and data usage patterns. Easy navigation and advanced operating systems enable frequent application downloads and media consumption, contributing to increased data consumption. Super consumers seem to favour the Android while users of the Symbian largely fall into the light user space.

Super consumers present a big opportunity across the telecom industry, as these heavy users are also the ones ready to pay extra for any useful and relevant services. Given their high engagement, they will also be willing to adopt newer services ahead of the curve. As a result, they present a very good opportunity for test marketing of newer services and applications.

However, for retailers and advertisers to cash in on this opportunity, it is highly imperative for the service providers to provide seamless data connectivity and experience. Super consumers are demanding a global experience, and poor broadband connectivity is still a huge challenge.

Nevertheless, preliminary forecasts indicate that smartphone usage in India is likely to exceed 45 per cent by 2020. Reliable networks, as well as wider arrays of apps and digital solutions will positively affect numbers within this sector in a country like India. More importantly, it will significantly change the way users interact, whether personally or professionally.