Tag: demographics

China or India? Brazil or Mexico? The United States or the European Union? How do you determine the markets you should enter? That there are many variables to consider is an epic understatement. The points addressed here can help anyone identify their best market opportunities.  This article is the first part of a white paper being prepared to support indications that only a minority of developers engage in marketing, and even fewer do market analysis.  And yet it’s not difficult, by the time we’re finished — it will be pretty easy.

Freely available data sources are referenced wherever possible. Some data will require personal research and may not be readily available. Still, there is enough information readily available online whereby anyone can get a good rough idea of where to concentrate their efforts without knowing a lot about marketing.  

1.  Country Population

Important for future perspective and helping to understand some of the broader dynamics in play. Total country population is relevant only as it is likely to influence where you start looking to market your apps. Bigger countries = bigger markets, right? Well, maybe.

Find Country Population:


2.  Average Income

It’s impossible to dismiss the importance of average income when it comes to evaluating prospective markets to target. There are several factors to consider.

The two simplest components are average income and purchasing power parity. Average income in US Dollars is typically defined by a country’s GDP divided by its population.

Purchasing power parity equates those US Dollars to what people can buy locally. A good point of reference for this is the Big Mac Index – measuring the cost of a Big Mac in different countries around the world. In Norway, a Big Mac is over $9.00, but in China might be less than $2.50. In essence, the app you are trying to sell to the North American Market for $3.00 won’t make headway in most other markets at the same price. This gets into market and price segmentation.

Some countries have a purchasing power parity significantly better than its GDP may indicate. Income influences pricing and price can dramatically influence interest in a premium app, freemium upgrades and costs of in-app currency.

There are a LOT of other factors appropriate to mention, though most of them apply to fine tuning marketing campaigns. Wealth distribution, unemployment rates, urban vs. rural population and wages, discretionary income, seasonal spending trends, etc. can all be useful points to consider.

Find GDP per capita:

Find countries by Purchasing Power Parity:


3.  Mobile User Population

Finding the approximate number of devices and mobile subscriptions by country is relatively easy. It is essential to factor in the number of people who have multiple devices and mobile subscriptions. In the United States, it might sound like everyone has a mobile device. More accurately, the average US mobile user has more than 1.5 devices – reducing the eligible market to about 238 million people. Determining unique users is more difficult and in the absence of research results may require you to make an estimation.

Find number of mobile devices by country:

Also consider:

4. Language

Many countries have more than one common language. Overall usage levels require research to determine the extent of overlap. Within our global environment, many languages carry weight far beyond national borders. Ignoring immigrant and diaspora communities dismisses some key language-specific revenue sources, frequently wealthier than their native communities.

If you develop and localize an app for a specific language, it makes sense to examine all of the countries in which the language is spoken. Additional localization components may be necessary.

Most Spoken Languages:  

Languages by Country:  

5.  Age and Gender Demographics

Playing a major role in breaking out likely users, age and gender both have an impact on app usage tendencies. Age (income and wealth distribution) tends to have the strongest impact on overall credit card holding rates.

We are talking in terms of averages here – broad classifications to which there will always be exceptions. The two oldest age groups (55-64 and 65+) can mostly be factored out of calculations, or given reduced weight in calculations.  Likewise, the youngest age group (0-14) will not have credits cards and only developed markets will have any appreciable number of credit card holders in the 18 – 24 age range.

Demographics by Age & Gender (and a lot more):  

4. Credit Card Penetration and Alternative Payment Methods:

Outside of developed markets, credit card usage can vary widely and the same applies to the ever expanding field of alternative payment systems. If you have a paid or freemium app, or one that allows the purchase of in-app currency, you need to have payment systems that match those available to your end users – customers.

Credit cards are the standard for most developed countries, typically working in conjunction with services like Paypal. Mobile phone payments like M-PESA in Kenya are showing signs of real growth, but frequently require an in-country presence for a business to establish an account. The proportion of people within a country having access to these payment systems requires research and that data is not always readily available.

Initiatives by Visa and MasterCard can be expected to substantially increase Africa’s market share in the years ahead. Developer-level partnerships can also pave the way for more effectively accessing developing markets, too. For example, if you or a trusted partner has an account able to accept mobile phone payments within a country can make a world of difference in your marketing strategy and app’s profitability.

One source of useful credit card information can be found on the Visa site:
Credit Card Market: Economic Benefits and Industry Trends by Scott Schmith

7.  Mobile Platforms

With all of the above factored, you are getting closer in defining your app’s target market. Your next step is to determine what portion of the market is using the combination of platforms and devices compatible with your app, i.e. Android, iOS, Nokia, Java or HTML5, and the like.

Awesome Resource for PC and Mobile Statistics:

8. Interest by App Category

Enough data is available to indicate that users of specific devices have preferences for specific types of apps – education and learning vs. travel or utility vs. gaming. Just within the games category, there are all kinds of genres, from strategy to puzzle, shooters and adventure.

There’s no single source of data for this kind of information. Different networks have their own statistics and what might be said for Apple devices tends to be quite different for Android.  

These factors, 3 – 8, are primary factors in determining the overall number of people within a given market or country who might be interested in your app.  This provides you the upper ceiling  for your app.  

Concluding Notes:

No two campaigns are exactly alike.    What you are able to establish through collecting the information in this article will go a long way toward establishing your total market.   Reaching your market — well, that’s another story and will be treated in the second installment. Feel like experimenting? You can add your app to the Opera Mobile Store or begin your own advertising campaign in minutes.

Many, many more factors go into setting up a proper marketing campaign.  Some campaigns seek to saturate the market; others aim to pick up maximum customers with a very limited ad spend.  And there’s everything in between.

Of interest is your ability to better compete with the bigger players — development companies that do have a dedicated marketing team.


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One of our readers expressed an interest in the mobile market of South Africa.  Without further adieu, we will jump right down to the Cape of Good Hope and get a bird’s eye view of the market for mobile apps in South Africa’s growing market.

We’ll start with the basic demographics — with total population, average income, gender and age structure:


So, just shy of 53 million people, estimated credit card usage is presently low at about 5%.   That will change as both Visa and Mastercard have launched major initiatives across Africa.  Visa and Mastercard’s efforts extend not only to increasing the number of people who actually have credit cards, but brokering agreements to expand  mobile and alternative payment system with Visa and Mastercard capabilities.  Visa itself invested $110 Million in acquiring Fundamo (a mobile financial service platform reaching 34 countries) headquartered in Cape Town.  Kenya’s MPesa also has a share of the South African mobile payments market.

Convergence – that was the big word in 1998 for bringing all digital devices together with the PC, Convergence 2013+ will increasingly focus upon online payment systems.   Thus, countries like South Africa and Kenya deserve attention now and deserve even more attention later.

Currency & Income:  Like Ukraine, South Africa enjoys a high purchasing power for its dollar, except their money is the Rand.   As of today, 1 South African Rand equals $0.099 US Dollar – about 10 cents.   So, if you are engaging in marketing premium apps, that would factor into your pricing segmentation and of course localization for in-app currency.

It is appropriate to note that again, average wage means comparatively little for South Africa as wealth distribution is very heavily skewed.  South Africa has about a 30% unemployment rate and 25 million South Africans are considered to be “very poor” – between poverty and the two lowest income brackets.   This is a direct extension of its history of racial segregation and limited infrastructure outside of its major industrialized cities.   About 70% of the South African market is either not serviced or “under serviced” by banks, however Fundamo and MPesa are helping and will increasingly bridge the gap.

Language:  South Africa has ELEVEN OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu (courtesy of Wikipedia).   Refer to Wikipedia for in-depth examination of the languages, suffice that if you are developing in English only, you will need to adjust your marketing expectations substantially.  As English is commonly used for government and media purposes, basic English will be understood by a larger portion of South Africans than “officially indicated”.    Needless to say, language plays a huge part in mobile app localization for South Africa.

Mobile Platforms:  Usage of mobile devices is almost as diverse, but Blackberries are still the most commonly used (39%), followed by Nokia (22% of users),  with Android coming in third (about 15%).   There’s are small markets for users of iOS and Nokia (5 – 6% each), and a sliver share for Windows (less than 2%).

Synopsis of Mobile Marketing for South Africa:   South Africa is not an easy market in which to achieve mass penetration.   Unlike most other markets though, apps for Nokia and Blackberry are more likely to be in demand.   If you are developing for either, South Africa could be one of your primary markets.    As English carries more clout than the official numbers represent (i.e. fluency and first language usage), the total size of South Africa’s mobile market also warrants experimentation, especially if you are using “usage segmentation” to capture the  users who are easiest to reach – i.e. top 20% of active users and 4-5% super-user groups.If you are a South African developer, we would like to hear from you – is there anything you would like to add or clarify?

[Editor’s Note:  Source data drawn from http://opera-mobile-store.com/determining-mobile-market-reach/ ]