800 million people is a respectable market opportunity. Okay, it's more than respectable - it's really big. But when gauging market potential, businesses have to consider many things. Chief among those considerations is, "How many people actually want what we're selling?"
The good news for the many providers of smartphones, mobile broadband
services and applications, is that there is a potential
800-million-strong market available - and a lot of the people in that
market want what they're selling. Who are these hungry buyers? Working women in the developing world.
In a recent study conducted with Qualcomm and the GSMA, Vital Wave
surveyed over 1,000 employed women throughout Brazil, China, India,
Indonesia, and Nigeria who own either a feature phone or a smartphone.
The study showed that working women highly value mobile broadband for
communicating with co-workers, locating customers, marketing their goods
and services, and finding educational or job opportunities. Of those
surveyed, 77 percent already own a smartphone would not go back to using
a phone without Internet access. Two-thirds of the feature phone owners
reported that they want smartphones and would be willing to pay for a
mobile data plan, and half said they intend to buy a smartphone within
the next two years.
Despite these numbers, capturing this market will not be as simple or
easy as picking wildflowers in a summer meadow. For all the programs
that currently exist to expand technology in the developing world, very
few focus on marketing, products and services to working women. In order
to succeed, handset manufacturers, operators, governments, and even
NGOs need to address the limited awareness as to the value of the
Internet and the cash-flow implications of the handset purchase - the
two most immediate barriers to smartphone uptake for women. Strategies
to address these challenges include the development of public-private
partnerships, creative financing, sponsored data schemes, and shared-use
plans. Expanding Internet access, particularly in rural areas, will
also increase women's use and appreciation for online services - a
crucial first step for women who don't see the utility or convenience of
mobile broadband. To discover additional insights, country-specific
observations, market segmentation information, and directions to the
best wildflower fields, download the full report here.