Rural users drawn to mobile Internet


FIRST-TIME smartphone users in rural areas are spending less time watching TV, reading newspapers and listening to the radio while turning to the mobile Internet to access entertainment, information, communication and business, according to mInteraction.

In March, the digital media agency of GroupM Thailand conducted in-depth interviews with 100 first smartphone users aged 25-55 in the North, Northeast and East to see how they were using their new devices.
The survey sought to gain a better understanding of media consumption patterns, how people connect and converse with others, and how they benefit from mobile commerce. 
Worawin Soncharoen, associate director for digital strategy, said yesterday that unlike urban users, rural users of smartphones were late adopters, but they had high purchasing power. 
Neil Marvichak, head of digital strategy, insight and corporate communications, said that users in rural areas are very active, within five years they would match urban areas in data consumption rates.
Chief executive officer Siwat Chawareewong said the greater availability of cheaper smartphones upcountry was a main reason for this development.
However, multi-screen behaviour upcountry is a bit different from that in urban areas. People said they used the connections offered by their smartphones to improve their lives, careers and businesses. 
The advantages of smartphones and tablets have revolutionised media consumption behaviour, Worawin said. 
One respondent said news on Facebook was updated more frequently and faster than on TV or in newspapers. Meanwhile, the role of radio and television has diminished remarkably with the arrival of YouTube in Thailand. 
Rural users consume digital content including music, movies, and TV shows via YouTube and Line TV. Also, they learn from their children how to search for information via Google. 
Some use Facebook and the Line application to sell their products and expand their businesses. For example, they post pictures of their goods to boost sales. 
Marketers should create and provide properly localised content to allow rural consumers to familiarise themselves with products and brands, Worawin said. 
Since they are connected to the online community, real-time marketing would help brands get into their social feeds, he added.