Going beyond the typical early-adopter set
For several years, young users with disposable income who were typically males were the dominant demographic using the internet in Mexico, and evidence points to that same group as the typical early adopters of new technologies and activities such as instant messaging, social media and ecommerce. But the pace at which other groups are joining the community of digital denizens is accelerating, bringing with it not only a greater diversity of users, but also a more varied set of user behaviors, according to a new eMarketer report, “Mexico Digital Demographics: Diversity with Distinct Usage Habits.”
eMarketer predicts there will be 56.5 million internet users in Mexico this year, out of a total population of roughly 116 million. The demographic profile of that online population is not very different from worldwide trends, with younger age groups making up the largest share.
According to INEGI, 73% of the country’s internet user population was younger than 35 in April 2013. Young consumers are still the majority of Mexico’s digital denizens, mostly because they represent a much larger portion of the overall population, where the median age was about 26 years in 2010. INEGI found consumers ages 55 and older represented a slim 4% of the online population in early 2013. Likewise, the 35-to-44 and 45-to-54 age groups both made up lesser shares of Mexico’s internet user base—19% and 12%, respectively—than did teens and young adults.
In the past 18 months, mobile phone users in Mexico have been switching to higher-tech devices at a particularly fast pace, a trend that could finally set the country on the path to internet ubiquity.
Though smartphone uptake is likely to transition from early adoption to mass-market ownership faster than desktop internet access, the mobile internet market in Mexico is still young. The typical early adopters remain the driving force of advanced mobile phone popularization in Mexico. The Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU), a Mexico City–based telecom consultancy, found that nearly half of mobile phone users in the affluent A/B SELs owned smartphones in September 2012, compared with 27% of those in the upper middle-class C+ group. Looking at adoption by age, smartphone penetration was greatest among 26- to 30-year-olds, followed closely by younger users ages 21 to 25.
Smartphone demographics in Mexico, however, are bound to change dramatically during the next 12 months, as older consumers already acquainted with internet via desktop ease into mobile internet use. In addition, droves of consumers from lower SELs will likely get their first regular access to the web via mobile devices. The two largest mobile carriers in the nation, Telcel and Movistar, recently announced expansions of their entry-level smartphone lineups in 2013 and 2014.