Nielsen: Thais purchasing more through smartphones

nielsen5Thais are purchasing more products and services through smartphones, and businesses would be smart to ensure their goods and services are available to consumers on that platform, according to Nielsen Thailand, the local subsidiary of the United States-based consumer research company, as Thai regulators said last week that local telecoms companies must provide cheap 4G SIM cards for the nation’s poor, increasing their access to mobile technology.

Both developments bode well for Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national development strategy that aims to transition the Kingdom’s economy and society towards a digital future driven by higher and green technology, innovation and creativity. Essential to that goal is getting more people online and well versed in the ways of the digital world.

According to Nielsen Thailand’s survey of smartphone usage during the third quarter, smartphone data consumption by Thais registered an 18 percent increase compared to the second quarter. More Thais are using their smartphones, and not just to purchase products but also to consume news and information, according to Yuwadee Aiamsontisup, director of consumer insights at Nielsen Thailand.

“People are not only using smartphones to buy products but they are also using them to follow what’s going on in the world,” Yuwadee said.

Nielsen’s survey found that Thais spend an average of 230 minutes, or nearly four hours, a day on their smartphones. The company expects that figure will continue to rise. “This will obviously affect consumer behavior,’’ Yuwadee said.

The survey concluded that the top-three uses for smartphones were communications, social media and entertainment. Applications such as LINE, the messaging service that also contains a shopping platform, hold Thai surfers’ attention for an average of 75 minutes each day. Thais also spend an average of 67 minutes a day on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Watching movies and playing video games, which fall under the category of entertainment, take up an average of 45 minutes a day among Thai smartphone users.

Based on the survey, Yuwadee said brands would be smart to place more emphasis on platforms that can be easily accessed by smartphones, as consumer behavior is clearly changing and traditional advertising platforms are wielding less influence.

Meanwhile, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has ordered the two leading mobile phone service providers in Thailand – Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Move – to begin providing low income earners and disabled people with low-cost 4G SIM cards by March.

The order essentially enforces a condition contained in the licenses already granted to the service provider. The auctions for 4G licenses were aimed at creating greater online access and bridging the digital divide in the country, said Takorn Tantasith, secretary general of the NBTC.

“All Thais must benefit from national resources like spectrum,” Takorn said.