Opportunity in the Brazilian Mobile Market

Aug 16, 2017
By: Marissa Camilli

The US mobile market is booming… that much we know.

With US digital marketing ad spend expected to near $120 billion by 2021, and with mobile now accounting for the majority of digital ad spending in the US, things are looking bright for the future of the domestic mobile market. And yet, it is important that we take the time to review and analyze the mobile boom through a global lens. While we often tend to focus on the mobile and economic trends that hit closest to home, big things are happening in the mobile markets that reside just to the south.

How big?

Well, in 2016 the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimated that the number of mobile subscribers in Latin America grew 802.5% from 2010-2015… that big!

Leading the way is Brazil.

With Latin America’s largest mobile internet market (and overall economy), Brazil’s GDP is estimated at more than $1.7 trillion. With a population of over 200 million people, it is believed that Brazil’s mobile phone user base is now pushing 136 million users, making it one of the largest in the world. While it is true that Brazil’s recent run of very public economic and political scandals has impacted the performance of its traditional indicators of economic health, the market for mobile phones has slowly but surely been on the path to recovery since late 2016.

As Latin America’s largest mobile economy is increasingly showing signs of growth, now is a great time to get a little more familiar with one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest mobile hotspots.

Here are five fast facts you need to know about the Brazilian mobile market.

1) Smartphones Are Trending Up

According to the marketing experts at eMarketer, as of 2016, more than 90% of mobile internet users in Brazil ages 34 and younger have a smartphone. While some mobile users still have feature phones, smartphone adoption is continuing to gain momentum. Overall, the number of smartphone users is expected reach over 77 million users in 2017. As both Brazil and Latin America continue to become increasingly interconnected, both socially and economically, expect rapid smartphone adoption to continue to increase.

2) Mobile Ad Spend is Expected to Continue to Grow

It is expected that advertisers in Brazil will spend $3.36 billion on digital advertising in 2017. According to eMarketer, this is a 15% gain from 2016. Of this total number, mobile ad expenditures in Brazil are expected to increase to 61% of total digital ad spend this year, and top out at 78.4% by the year 2021. These numbers take on a heightened importance when we recall that half of the digital ad spend in Latin America occurs in Brazil.

3) Apps Reign King

Brazilians are serious about their apps. How serious? Well, the mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry estimated that, in 2016, Brazilian smartphone users accounted for almost 35% of all of their app sessions in Latin America. With Mexico coming in at 21%, this means that Latin America’s two largest economic hubs accounted for a total of 55% of all app session in Latin America. According to the Business of Apps, the most popular mobile app in Brazil is WhatsApp, with 47 million users (95% of messaging app users), and the most popular app category is “social.” With an app economy providing an estimated 312,000 jobs, even after two years of an economic recession, it is clear that the role of apps in Brazilian mobile market will only continue to expand and evolve.

4) Control is Concentrated

Brazil has four major mobile operators that offer a wide range of mobile and data services: Vivo, Claro, TIM, and Oi. According to a recent mobile market study (in Portuguese) their market share in terms of mobile subscriptions is estimated at 29%, 27%, 25%, and 18%, respectively. This concentration of power and market share means that barriers to entry are high, and the market is not without its challenges to newcomers. While recently discussing the mobile market and smartphone economy in Brazil, Parv Sharma, an Associate at Counterpoint Research, had this to say: “Brazil is one of the very concentrated market in terms of few brands controlling most of the market share. The top five brands captured a combined 75% of the smartphone market. This is mainly driven by the high barriers to entry. To succeed, the brands need to have a local manufacturing setup or partner.”

5) M-Commerce is Ready for a Boom

As an increasingly popular mechanism for payment, especially for younger mobile phone users, m-commerce in Latin America is expected to account for $6 million of the total e-commerce sales in 2017, $8 million in 2018, and $11 million in 2019. Although relatively low when compared to the United States, the number of m-commerce transactions in Brazil is expected to gradually increase, experiencing an estimated 25% compound annual growth rate for 2015-2019. As a regional pioneer and early adopter of m-commerce technology, expect significant m-commerce growth in the near future as the number of initiatives between Brazilian financial institutions, mobile networks, and operators continue to increase.

In Conclusion…

With 4G networks still relatively new in Brazil, the Brazilian mobile market should only continue to grow as more users are granted access to high speed networks and devices. Latin America as a whole, and in particular Brazil as the region’s largest mobile device economy, will continue to play an ever more important role in the global mobile boom.

Are you a brand interested in growing your users in Brazil and Latin America? If so, click here to learn more.

Marissa Camilli
By Marissa Camilli
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