Mobile Marketing: Mobile Usage and Behavior in Japan, U.S. & Europe

“As we look across markets, dramatic differences in mobile media consumption, brand adoption and user behavior become evident…For brands seeking to establish a multi-market presence, understanding usage dynamics across geographies is essential to implementing a successful global mobile marketing strategy.”

Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile

ComScore published in October 2010 a very interesting comparative report on mobile usage and behaviors in Japan, the United States and Europe. To find out how consumers interact with mobile media across these three markets, the study gives a detailed picture of the mobile content consumption, demographic comparisons and top social networking brands across markets.

There are considerable differences between the three: Japanese use mobile to access mobile media, U.S consumers use it for Social Networking and Europeans love texting.

Connected Media

In Japan more than 75% of the mobile owners use connected media (browsed, accessed applications or downloaded content), while only 43.7% are using it in the U.S. and 38.5% in Europe.

Select Mobile Behaviors in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT)
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Percent of Total Mobile Audience
Japan U.S. Europe
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Used connected media (Browsed, Accessed Applications or Downloaded Content) 75.20% 43.70% 38.50%
Used browser 59.30% 34.00% 25.80%
Used application 42.30% 31.10% 24.90%

Japanese mobile users also show stronger preference of applications and browsers compared to mobile users in the U.S. and in Europe.


What comes to the messaging, the biggest difference of user behavior between the markets is that 81.7% of the Europeans use text messages, while Japanese prefer sending emails. The American mobile users were more likely to use instant messaging services on their mobile than the other markets.

Messaging Usage
  Japan U.S. Europe
Sent text message to another phone 40.10% 66.80% 81.70%
Used major instant messaging service 3.30% 17.20% 12.60%
Used email (work or personal) 54.00% 27.90% 18.80%

Social Media/Entertainment

While 21.3% of the American users use the mobile for Social networking/blogs, only 17% of the Japanese and 14.7% of the Europeans get connected & blogging through their mobile.

Social Media/Entertainment      
  Japan U.S. Europe
Accessed Social Networking Site or blog 17.00% 21.30% 14.70%
Listened to music on mobile phone 12.50% 13.90% 24.20%
Took photos 63.00% 50.60% 56.80%
Captured video 15.40% 19.20% 25.80%
Watched TV and/or video on mobile phone 22.00% 4.80% 5.40%
Played games 16.30% 22.50% 24.10%

However, 63% of the Japanese like to capture photos and 22% watch TV/video on their mobile. Europeans capture videos more than other two and 24.2% of them is listening to music and 24.1% is playing mobile games.


Quite few people accessed their bank accounts, the percentage staying under 10% in all markets, yet 16.1% of the Japanese accessed financial news or stock quotes through their mobile. Online retail and travel services were also low in all markets; most of the numbers not reaching even 7%.

Maps, traffic reports and weather are another story. 16% of the Americans and 15.7% of the Japanese access maps, 12.6% of the Japanese access traffic reports, and 34.1% of the Japanese and 22.3% of the Americans access weather forecasts through their mobile. In Europe these areas are not popular, the percentage varying from 5.9% to 13.7%.

Demographic Segment

The study measures also the mobile media consumption across the genders and age segments.  The usage rate is more balanced across age segments in Japan than in the U.S. and Europe.

Mobile Media Usage in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT) by Demographic Segment
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
  Connected Media Audience Index*
Japan U.S. Europe
Total Audience: 13+ yrs old 100 100 100
Male 102 110 116
Female 98 91 84
Persons Age:
13-17 114 130 133
18-24 117 139 154
25-34 114 144 135
35-44 111 117 103
45-54 105 85 78
55+ 80 39 57

* Index = % demographic segment / % demographic base*100

In Europe, 18-24 year olds are 54% more likely to access mobile media than an average mobile user, while persons aged 25-34 are 35% more likely to get connected.

In the U.S., 25-34 year olds are 44% more likely to use mobile media, while 18-24 year olds are 39% more likely to use it.

Another interesting fact was that females in the U.S. were 9% less likely than males to get involved with mobile media and European females were 16% less likely than males to use mobile media.

Top Mobile Social Media Brands

Across markets the top mobile social media brands were the same ones as the social media brands generally. Facebook leads the way in the U.S. and Europe and local social media brands ruled Japan with Mixi, Gree and Mobage Town. The Twitter fever in Japan raised the brand on 3rd position in the market. In Europe considerable preference for Youtube might explain partly Europeans preference on video capturing.

Top Mobile Social Networking/Chat/Blog Brands in Japan, United States and EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT) by Audience Size
Total Mobile Audience Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Japan U.S. Europe
Mixi Facebook Facebook
Gree MySpace YouTube
Twitter YouTube MSN / Windows Live / Bing
Mobage Town    

Looking through the statistics from these three complex markets, I think Mark Donovan is right. To create a successful International mobile marketing strategy, it is essential to know how the consumers use their mobile in each of these markets. For example, SMS marketing and games might work in Europe, email or interactive marketing might be more effective in Japan and in the U.S. social media and blog marketing might be a success.

Everything depends of course of the target audience, which makes the demographics handy, and the relevant content/message/advertising. Good thing to remember here is also the emerge of the Smartphones, which change the user behaviour considerably allowing the mobile user access to different applications and faster connection among the other benefits. The high mobile media use in Japan makes sense since the market is more advanced than the others on this aspect, but I have a feeling that at same time next year the results could be very different in the U.S and Europe.

Great comparative snapshot of Japan, the U.S. and Europe anyhow!

Pauliina Jamsa

I am Pauliina Jamsa, a digitally disruptive marketing rock star with International business experience hard to beat - I have lived in 5 countries and speak 7 languages. Based in London, I am currently working as Global Senior Online Marketing Manager at Siemens. Remember these are my own opinions only. Thank you for checking out my blog, feel free to get in touch! Twitter: @pauliinajamsa LinkedIn:

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