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Americans and Chinese do things differently (with their phones)

Is your phone an extension of you, or an extension into the world?


Our obsession with mobile phones is never ending, now we even believe they are smart. We check them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We no longer get the fear leaving the house because we have forgotten our keys, nope, now it is forgetting our phones  that leaves us out of kilter all day.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China (IIACC)  jointly conducted a study examining the role of mobile phones in consumers’ lives, both in the United States and China. Apparently, China is becoming a “one screen market”, while Americans are significantly more dependent on their smartphones.

The most revealing conclusion of  study, and this will sound pompous, is that “in the US, the smartphone is an extension of the self,” whereas “for the Chinese, the smartphone is an extension into the world.” Hmmm.

In both China and America, smartphone owners use phones to access social media and entertainment. However, Americans spend less time on social media, while the Chinese are, frankly, obsessed with it. An American is likely to wake up reaching for his phone, while a Chinese is more likely to fall asleep at night using his.

Via iab.net.

“The research reveals that media consumption is more impacted by smartphone ownership in China. More than a quarter of Chinese smartphone owners report less TV watching and reduced print consumption as a result of owning a mobile connected device (28% and 27% respectively). In comparison to their U.S. counterparts, Chinese smartphone owners are 86 percent more likely to report less TV usage and 42 percent more likely to report less print usage.”

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“U.S. smartphone owners are much more likely to consume other media with their mobile devices in hand. For example, while watching TV, smartphone users report participating in:

  • Internet communication (51% U.S. vs. 10% China)

  • Reading social media (38% U.S. vs. 9% China)

  • Conducting a local search (34% U.S. vs. 8% China)”

Statistics also show that Chinese smartphone owners respond more to TV commercials. Almost twice as many Chinese smartphone users make ad related purchase compared to American users.

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When it comes to print media, American smartphone users tend to use their phone more than their Chinese counterparts. One glaring fact is that while 40% Americans  look up local information while they read, zero Chinese do the same.

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“Strikingly, the research illustrates Americans’ greater dependency on their smartphones as devices that they would ‘never leave home without’ (69%). In comparison, merely 6 percent of their Chinese counterparts said the same. Approximately one-third (34%) of Americans said that their smartphone is the ‘first thing I reach for when I wake up,’ as opposed to 7 percent of Chinese smartphone owners.”

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At home, the behavior of Chinese  and US smartphone users also varies. All of the Americans surveyed use data on their phone, different when compared to the just 7 percent of Chinese who do. For Americans, phones are part of all facets of daily life. From morning to evening, at home or in the car, their phone serves as practical companion for both private affairs and working life. For Chinese, smartphone are less a source of information and serve mainly as a source of entertainment, thus their dependence on smartphones is significantly less than Americans. If anybody cares and what this all means, nobody knows, but savvy marketeers have to turn a buck somehow, don’t they?


You can click here for the full report. 


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