Belgium joins top league in tablet ownership

Brussels, 5 November 2013 – Deloitte today announced the results of the third “Global Mobile Consumer Survey”. The survey provides a unique insight into the mobile consumer behaviour of 37,600 respondents across 20 countries, including 2,000 Belgian consumers. The survey reveals that ownership of tablets has almost tripled compared to last year. The penetration rate reached 30% in 2013 compared to 12% in 2012 and Belgium saw the second highest year-on-year growth in tablet ownership across developed countries. Belgian consumers remain very loyal to Wi-Fi, but interest in 4G is expected to rise and the appetite for all-you-can-eat tariffs for their preferred applications or services is high.

Vincent Fosty, Telecoms & Media Partner with Deloitte and author of the study, comments: “The Deloitte survey of Belgian mobile consumers’ preferences and usage brings a wealth of information for brands, enterprises and service providers as mobile becomes a dominant interaction channel. This year Belgian mobile consumers broke the archetype of Belgian conservatism towards new technology adoption and promoted Belgium to a peer group of leading countries alongside France, Germany and the US.”

Tablet expected to continue its bull run 

With an astonishing 300% increase compared to last year, the 55+ age group saw the biggest rise in tablet ownership and the device is expected to continue its bull run – tablets are the number one planned mobile device purchase in the next 12 months. One fifth of Belgian consumers (22%) plan to buy a tablet in the coming year, suggesting tablet penetration should rise up to 50% in 2014.

There are significant differences in where and how people use the tablets and for how long - all of which have great implications for app developers, marketers, tablet makers, etc. Tablets are more than personal smartphones, tablets are shared devices. One in five tablet users share their device with family members. Tablet users primarily use communication channels such as video calls and instant messages. Content consumption activities such as video watching, reading news and listening to music are also more frequent on tablets. Remarkably, browsing retailer websites has become the 4th most common activity. This trend could explain the rise of the Belgian e-commerce: for the first time, more than half (57%) of the Belgian population (or 75% of the online population) has bought at least 1 new product/service via the internet for personal purposes.

Mobile shoppers are the future of retail  

Smartphones are critical shopping tools with 96% having researched a product or service on their device, according to Google research. Smartphone research influences buyer decisions and purchases across channels. Therefore having a mobile optimised site is critical, and a cross-channel strategy is needed to engage consumers across the multiple paths to purchase.

Koen De Staercke, Consumer Business Partner Deloitte Belgium, explains: “Mobile is already having a major impact on store-based sales and its influence is increasing rapidly. But if both pure m-commerce and e-commerce are growing fast, what will become even more impactful is mobile-influenced sales: during some steps in the shopping process, the shopper goes online through a mobile device. By enabling the relevant, mobile capabilities at the right stages of the store-shopping journey, both retailers and manufacturers can jointly drive shopper behaviour.”Adds Koen De Staercke, “The bottom line is this: If you don’t do it, someone else will. And they’ll do it to your customers inside your stores.“

Wi-Fi still the first choice
Wi-Fi remains the predominant connectivity method for smartphone and tablet owners in Belgium. Wi-Fi is regarded as faster, more reliable and less expensive. Compared to other countries surveyed, Belgium has the highest share of smartphone owners who most often use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet.

Interest in 4G emerging
In Belgium, the number of consumers familiar with 4G and its advantages is very low. This standard is therefore not yet considered a differentiator for telco operators. However, as more operators are starting to develop commercial offers and rolling out their 4G networks, consumer interest is expected to increase. In 2013, 31% of Belgian respondents already wanted their next phone to have 4G.

All-you-can-eat and all-you-can-app tariffs
Respondents are receptive to all-you-can-eat tariffs for their preferred application or service. In this pricing model, customers receive unlimited access to services they opt in to, similar to the package-based approach to selling pay TV. A third of respondents would subscribe to this type of service. E-mail, Facebook, Google maps, YouTube and Skype are the most desired applications.