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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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):
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
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:
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.
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.
This article follows on our interview with Victor Shaburov, Vice President of Storefront Services at Opera Software in relation to his advice for app developers to explore app localization. Localization concerns language, customs and traditions, sometimes through images (photos, animations, icons, etc.). The focus here is on how small developers can carve out a niche for themselves for other developers – potentially large app development companies, on a business to business basis. There is broad-based competition in this market, but that speaks to its viability.
Localization – Supply and Demand. There are, in fact, so many apps available that it is sometimes a challenge to distribute them even on a FREE basis – hundreds of thousands, millions when considering platform specific iterations.
Wiki’s List of Languages shows the major languages of the world and how many people speak the language. This is a good general reference in that the fewer speakers of a language, the less likely an app has been localized for it. Of course, that also means its overall potential to be monetized is much smaller, too. Or does it? For the large developer, yes – but there’s ample opportunity for smaller developers.
Localizing an app is generally far easier, and much faster, than developing an entire app from scratch – provided you can provide professional translations and have a thorough understanding of the culture, traditions and “feel” for your specific market.
For starters, you might approach larger developers with popular apps with offers to localize their app to your market. For this, you will likely want a reasonably detailed market presentation covering the number of prospective users the developer could reach along with any value added services you can offer toward that end (web sites, business connections, social networking, etc.) This helps build your portfolio — the more you do the easier it becomes to do even more.
Another approach is to network with local businesses. Here, you would be looking to determine what kind of apps, and possibly what specific apps, they think would be useful for their business operations and/or customers. In extension, this can give you options to work with other developers (as above), buy the rights off original developer (which may be good for older apps), get a licensing agreement or in some circumstances, a subscription-based arrangement.
The key is to leverage your existing capabilities for future possibilities. The more you demonstrate your usefulness to businesses within your market, the more likely they are to tap you on the shoulder for a new project. The more you become known by other developers for your ability and influence within a specific market, the more likely they will refer to your for their localization efforts in it.
Big companies rely upon small companies for a lot of their work. Sometimes the ONLY barrier between a big company being able to do something is for its people to know that it can be done – easily and conveniently. That’s where you have a foot in the door.