Middle-class consumers in Brazil have caught up with mobile usage among those with higher incomes
eMarketer estimates there will be nearly 30 million smartphone users in Brazil by the end of this year—20.8% of the country’s mobile phone users. Data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB Brasil) and comScore showed tablets as the fourth most common device to access the internet in Brazil, with a 39% penetration rate among internet users.
In this expanding market, mobile devices with increasingly varied capabilities are making it harder for marketers to keep tabs on user behavior. Interestingly, despite the many mobile activities now available to consumers in Brazil, most usage patterns are similar across demographics.
June 2013 data from Pagtel, a mobile payments company, and E.Life showed that apps for social networks and messaging were used by more than 96% of tablet and smartphone users in Brazil, with no significant variation between users of different socioeconomic levels (SELs) or age groups. Similarly, apps for maps and navigation were used by 93.4% of wealthier A/B SELs, and 94.1% of those in the C group. The trend continued with apps used for banking, gaming, health, music and video.
When it comes to ecommerce, however, there is a clear distinction in app usage by income. In the study, while 61.5% of smartphone and tablet users in the A/B class used travel apps on their devices, that share dropped to 47% for middle-income C-class consumers. The gap is similarly significant for shopping and buying apps, as well. This is likely due to higher-income consumers—also likely to be early ecommerce adpaters—being more comfortable with the prospect of spending money via mobile devices.
Looking into content consumption on mobile devices, Pagtel and E.Life found narrow margins separating usage across income levels. Age, however, was a more marked divider. While older mobile users were more prone to read newspapers, magazines and books on smartphones and tablets, younger users viewed films and TV series more heavily on these devices.
Although consumer behavior is invariably tied to age and income to some extent, the easier access to various media via multiple devices seems to be blurring those lines. According to Felipe Lessa, marketing director at Pagtel, “The boom in Brazil’s digital inclusion over the last few years has meant that the middle-class consumer is exposed to essentially the same type of content and intensity as those in the wealthier class. So it is increasingly difficult to tell usage apart based purely on traditional age, gender and income metrics. But when spending is a factor, the difference is indeed more clearly there.”