The US may be ahead of its global neighbors in social and online commerce adoption, but global trends suggest consumers are showing similar patterns worldwide. As in the States, businesses that act quickest to meet the changing needs and preferences of their markets will capture new market share, and can leapfrog their slower competitors. Here are five global trends brands can act on now to get ahead.

Nearly 1 in 4 French consumers will use social via mobile by 2014

The French have been lukewarm toward social on PCs, but the number of mobile social networkers is exploding – expected to grow 53.8% to 7.5 million next year, half (11.3 million) of all social users. By 2014, nearly a quarter of the French population with use social via mobile, trailing only the UK in Europe. As more French consumers connect with each other via mobile, reaching them on mobile devices will become increasingly important for French businesses. Mobile adoption contributes to the rise –one in three French consumers will have a smartphone in 2012 – and it’s highest among active social users like students and young professionals.

Australian online market is ripe for foreign brands

Total Australian online commerce is projected to reach AU$36 billion in 2012, up 12% from AU$32 billion last year. Australian consumers are spending more online – the average Aussie will spend AU$2,018 this year, up nearly AU$100 from 2011. And due to favorable tax rates and consumer preferences, foreign brands have a large online opportunity down under. Forrester reports that having a local presence in the country isn’t a significant advantage, as innovative international brands sites with competitive value attract much of these sales.

German consumers’ reliance on social is growing

In Europe’s strongest economy, traditional media is still the most used by citizens monthly: TV (99%), radio (94%), magazines (94%), and newspapers (94%). But nontraditional media is growing, including internet (74%), social (55%), and mobile internet (37%). German companies that move now to develop strong online and social presences will have a head start as consumers catch up to more connected countries – total social network users in Germany are expected to reach 34.7 million by 2014, 43% of the population.

72% of Italian B2Cs adopted social in 2011

Despite recent poor Italian economic performance, one area is showing strong growth: ecommerce. Italian business-to-consumer ecommerce jumped 42% in 2011 to €18.97 billion, and while Italy was slow to adopt online commerce initially, we can expect a steep adoption curve as the nation catches up to more mature online markets like the UK and Germany. To drive this quick growth, 72.1% of B2C companies adopted social word of mouth practices last year, with 49% calling “brand credibility” their main differentiator.

Chinese marketing spend follows consumer activity

More than four in five marketers in China plan to increase their digital media spending in 2012 – 41% by at least 20%, and 13% by more than half. They’re concentrating that spend where Chinese consumers spend the most time online. Twenty-three percent will increase spending most on online video, 20% on weibo microblogs, and 16% on other social sites. These strategies reflect where Chinese consumers truly interact with media, unlike in the US, where advertisers spend disproportionately in media like print compared to the time consumers spend consuming print media.

92% of UK consumers are mobile shopping

Fully 92% of shoppers in the UK have researched products and services on a smartphone – including 60% who’ve done mobile research while in a physical retail store. The most common mobile research activities include comparing prices (34%), checking email or social sites for product info, (23%) and reading consumer product reviews (17%). After researching, 47% go on to buy the product in a store, while 37% buy via PC, and a growing 28% buy the product right on their phone.

While some countries like the UK and the US were first to online commerce, social, and mobile adoption, many nations aren’t far behind – and can expect steeper adoption curves for the technologies their global neighbors have already embraced. Acting first to best meet the new needs of their consumers will vault many brands ahead of the competition.

2 Responses to “5 trends global brands can act on now to get ahead”

  1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

    Paul F Davis – global business consultant and corporate trainer

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