Trends in the Asian Mobile Market:

2018 and Beyond

Part 1: Brand Perceptions and Purchasing Decisions



We are happy to share our latest research: A look at the similarities and differences among mobile consumer behavior and brand perceptions across 4 major Asian markets. The result gives us a glimpse into where the mobile market is heading in 2018 and beyond.

We hope you enjoy Part 1: Brand Perceptions and Purchasing Decisions.


Research Objective

The mobile market has a significant cultural impact on everything from finance to consumer spending. Our goal is to look at the current consumer data to extract hints about where consumer behavior is trending in the future, what brands consumers expect to buy next—and why.

Over 3 days we surveyed 1200 smartphone users across the 4 target countries: China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.


Research Results

Impact of Brand Perception on Purchase behavior

The short story here is that Japan loves Apple, and Samsung reigns in the Philippines. But there is more to this story.

Apple was the brand most frequently associated with qualities such as ‘best-in-class’ and ’secure’, topping the list in 3 of the 4 countries surveyed (Indonesia brand favorite, Samsung, ranks higher in that country).smartphone_図1.png

Apple and Samsung ranked in the top for ‘innovative’ across all countries, while regional favorites Xiaomi (Indonesia) and Huawei (China) ranked highest for ‘Good Value’.  Even in Japan, where Apple is clearly dominant, while over 45% of respondents ranked Apple highest for innovation, only 20% ranked Apple highest for value, which is no surprise considering Apple phones are consistently priced at the top of the market.


In all markets, the brand qualities with the highest correlation to market share are reliability (#1) and easy-to-use (#2).

In the Philippines, the top 2 considerations for purchase were battery life and storage capacity.  In all, 10 of the 12 features were ranked as ‘very important’, leading these researchers to wonder if the Philippine consumer is particularly challenging to satisfy! (see the orange bars in the graph below) Conversely, for Chinese respondents, 10 of the 12 features ranked lower in importance than for other countries. (see yellow bars below)

In Indonesia, storage capacity (#1) barely edged out battery life (#2) for the top spot.

In China, Storage (#1), security (#2) and battery life (#3) all ranked about even for the top 3.

In Japan, the top 2 considerations were price (#1) and battery life (#2). Japan was the only country where price was also ranked as a top consideration, which is most curious considering that Apple has the largest share of market yet it also sells the highest priced devices. (Perhaps their ‘price’ preference is a high price?) 

Interestingly, previous brand experience did not rank very highly across all markets, and ranked lowest in Japan. This is another curious finding. (In Part 2 you will see that despite this finding, Japan has the highest brand retention.)


Across all countries, surfing the internet is the #1 activity, followed by ‘texting/messaging’.

The exception is China, where mobile owners seem to be the only population that still uses phones for making phone calls! Over 28% of respondents ranked phone calls as one of their top 3 activities, which is double the average of the other 3 countries.

Like the good old days of iPods, in Indonesia listening to music still ranks on their top 3 list for mobile phone activity.

What market wins the prize for ‘top in texting’? At 33%, the Philippines wins that prize, hands down.

How long are people using their phones?

Japanese consumers tend hold on to their phones much longer than the others.  More than half (51.2%) say they don't expect to purchase a new smartphone for at least two years. 

Consumers in the Philippines and China expect to upgrade much more quickly--with 70.6% of Filipino respondents and 62.3% of Chinese respondents expecting to purchase a new smartphone within one year.

Since mobile phones in Japan have a 2-3 year lifespan, it makes perfect sense that Apple- the market leader- would rate so highly for device reliability.


Wrap up: Impact of Brand Perception on Purchase behavior


While there are some distinct regional differences, there are also some universal truths that are reflected in this data:

1.    Samsung and Apple are viewed as the most ‘innovative’ and ‘easy-to-use’ brands

2.    Regional brands Huawei, Oppo, & Xiaomi are consistently ‘good value’ stand-outs

3.    Reliability and ease-of-use rankings have the highest correlation to market share leaders

4.    Battery life and storage capacity are the most important features for new mobile phone purchases

5.    Surfing the internet is the #1 activity across all countries

6.    In the country where price matters most (Japan) they also buy the most expensive phones. (we need to dive a little deeper to make sense of this one!)


Coming up next…

In Part 2 we will highlight brand loyalty and how this impacts future purchase decisions. We will look at brands on the rise, brands on the decline, and will compare the behaviors of brand-switchers and brand-loyalists by country.


For more on the results, feel free to contact us, as we have the tabulated data ready for you.