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18-34 year olds drive m-commerce boom, with UK leading the way

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The UK currently has the highest number of consumers participating in mobile commerce – 19% doing so in April 2010, followed by 13% of Germans 9% of French – with 18 to 34 year olds the primary drivers of mobile commerce across all three markets surveyed, with 29% of British consumers, 21% of German and 15% of French in this age group making transactions, finds the latest Mobile Consumer Briefing conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association and Lightspeed Research.

Respondents used their mobiles to purchase mobile content, goods and services as well as other digital content; with most agreeing that the transactions were quick and easy. Consumers surveyed across all age groups demonstrated even stronger market interest in mobile transactions in the future, demonstrating clear market opportunities for mobile as a fast and convenient way for consumers to make transactions, says the study.

Across all three countries, the most common form of mobile commerce is the purchase of content for mobile phones, such as ringtones and applications, with 12% of UK, 8% of German and 5% of French respondents making a mobile content purchase in April 2010.

Purchases were not entirely concerned with mobile content or even restricted to products available through operator billing. For example, the purchase of goods and services and collection or redemption of loyalty points (like airline miles) were the second most common form of mobile commerce in France, suggesting a growing opportunity to use mobile for CRM and customer loyalty campaigns.

The mobile web was the medium used most frequently for mobile commerce overall, accounting for roughly half of all transactions. This differed slightly in the case of mobile content, with 52% of UK respondents preferring to purchase mobile content via the web, compared with 49% of Germans preferring messaging (SMS, IM, MMS) and 56% of French respondents preferring to buy via mobile applications.

While most felt transactions were quick and easy, only half of respondents felt they were secure and trustworthy, indicating a need for the industry to educate consumers on the security of mobile payments and address any concerns that may hold back adoption.

“Mobile commerce is beginning to change the mobile retail landscape,” says Dr. Peter A Johnson, VP of Market Intelligence for the MMA. “Rapid adoption of smartphones and use of app stores has provided fertile ground for mobile commerce growth to date and this will only accelerate in the coming years. This research provides a clear indication of how the convenience of mobile commerce is gaining traction. As consumers become increasingly comfortable and confident with paying for goods and services through their mobile it is possible to see m-commerce becoming mainstream or perhaps even the dominant form of transactions.”

“This research provides invaluable insight into consumer attitudes towards mobile commerce that can help marketers understand the opportunities in this exciting new channel,” adds Ralph Risk, Marketing Director, EMEA, Lightspeed Research. “Clearly there is a market for mobile transactions now and in the future, which is not just limited to mobile-related purchases, but for anything that consumers might pay for over the internet or in person.”

The research, which is available free to MMA members and by subscription to non-members, also found that the most popular way for consumers to pay for content on their mobile was to be billed by their mobile operator on their statement. This was the case for 52% of UK respondents, 54% of German and 56% of French respondents.

Digital payment methods such as PayPal appear to be gaining popularity, especially when the transaction does not involve mobile content.

UK residents expressed higher levels of interest in conducting mobile commerce transactions in the future than residents of Germany or France. Across all three countries, respondents believed they were most likely to make mobile commerce transactions over the next 12 months to use discounts or coupons or to collect or redeem loyalty points.

In conjunction with the Mobile Consumer Briefing’s release, the MMA also announced that its Mobile Commerce committee has released a new definition of m-commerce: “Mobile Commerce is the one- or two-way exchange of value facilitated by a mobile consumer electronic device (e.g. mobile handset), which is enabled by wireless technologies and communication networks.” An industry-standard definition defines the scope of m-commerce services available and ensures that terminology is consistent between all parties. MMA’s Mobile Consumer Briefing research for May incorporated this new definition into its survey design, providing the market with an important first baseline of the extent of mobile commerce as now practiced in Europe.

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