Take advantage of mobile in Africa: learn from China

Posted: November 2, 2015

With legislation driving growth in gaming, technology opening up opportunities in cosmetics, and beacons and QSR driving retailing, mobile innovation is happening in every market in China. So much so that mobile e-commerce expenditure for 2015 will be four times higher in China than in the United States. Given this, we’d be silly if we didn’t watch the market carefully and learn what we can to take advantage of mobile in Africa. Strategic marketing consultancy, Added Value, highlights a handful you might find worthwhile.

  • Apple Pay eyeing the Chinese market

Chinese consumers are no strangers to mobile payment systems. AliPay from Alibaba has 400 million registered users, and Tencent is seeing success with mobile pay via WeChat. Vending machines offer the functionality and it is becoming commonplace to use mobile pay in restaurants. Apple has made a step towards launch in China by registering a payment business in Shanghai’s free trade zone, but there are no clear timings on when they will begin business.

  • Alibaba and FiiSmart announce smartwatch

Alibaba is partnering with FiiSmart to launch a smartwatch that will focus on mobile payments. The rival to the Apple Watch will cost $110 and on power-save mode claims 118 hours of battery life. While the focus is on payments, the watch will deliver notifications from WeChat, email and SMS, and it will also display the weather and your heartrate. The hope is that the watch will snare consumers looking for a cheaper alternative to the Apple Watch, and add to the dominance of AliPay.

  • 7M download L’Oréal’s app in China

L’Oréal’s Make-Up Genius app is a great example of a brand customizing a global app for a specific market. Users try on make-up virtually, which offers Chinese consumers the chance to experiment with heavier make-up – a look they would be reluctant to try in-store. Users can share their photo via WeChat or purchase the products via Alibaba’s mobile e-commerce platform Tmall. L’Oréal announced this year that 10% of sales in China are from e-commerce and they hope to replicate this success in other markets.

  • WeChat leading Internet of Things innovation

Tencent, the company behind WeChat launched an API for smart hardware last year that enables hardware makers to write applications for devices to connect with the WeChat mobile app. The ultimate goal is to allow consumers to control their living environment via the social network. WeChat subsequently launched a competition to explore the technology and the winner was announced in September: an intelligent thermostat that communicates with air-conditioning units to save energy.

  • A booming mobile gaming industry

Mobile gaming is hugely popular among Chinese consumers and the revenue is set to surpass the US to reach $6.5 billion by the end of 2015. Games that fill a void in culture are said to be the most successful: social casino apps are popular in China where gambling is illegal. The success of mobile gaming can be attributed in part to the 14-year ban on consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, which was lifted last year.

  • Pizza Hut piloting iBeacons in China

Pizza Hut is hoping to capitalize on the saturation of mobile users in China to boost sales. The eatery has set up Apple iBeacons at over 1,400 locations in China to distribute coupons, prizes, offers and discounts to consumers via Bluetooth when they enter the restaurants. The technology will also help Pizza Hut analyze customer data and ultimately deliver a better experience with targeted content. The brand also hopes to project a modern and tech-savvy brand image.