Matthew Miller
Mar 04, 2013

How mobile personality types vary across Asia: McCann Truth Central

‘iChatty’ most prevalent mobile personality type in India; badge value of mobile device highly important to Indians

How mobile personality types vary across Asia: McCann Truth Central

The "Truth About Connected You" report, released this week along with an entertaining online mobile personality test, defined a series of mobile personality types (pictured above). The study, performed by Harris Interactive, involved 9,000 participants in nine countries (US, Brazil, UK, Germany, Spain, South Africa, India, China and Japan) plus online discussion boards that drew nearly 20,000 posts across those nine countries plus five others, including the Philippines.

In conversation with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Dave McCaughan, director of McCann’s Truth Central for Asia, highlighted some of the ways mobile personalities in Asia vary from each other and from global norms.

For example, a personality type dubbed the "Linked-Out Loyalist", characterised as wanting to "keep it real" by communicating in personal ways, makes up about 8 per cent of the global population but nearly 20 per cent in Japan.

"Is this surprising?" McCaughan asked. "Not really if you understand that Japanese people tend to be narrow communicators." He noted that Japan remains the world's top fax-machine market, and cited the success of instant-messaging app Line as another example of  the preference for personal communication.

The seven deadly sins of mobile

According to McCann Truth Central's "Connected You" report:

1. LUST: Sending or forwarding a sexually explicit text (or ‘sext’). More than 1 in 10 people say they have received a sext.

2. GLUTTONY: When your device addiction becomes excessive. 38 per cent of people take their devices into the bathroom.

3. GREED: Downloading content illegally. 29 per cent admit to doing so, 49 per cent in China.

4. SLOTH: Screening calls and avoiding texts. 55 per cent have purposely ignored a call.

5. WRATH: 2 in 10 use curses and dirty words in texts

6. ENVY: Judging a man or woman by their home screen. 55 per cent admit to judging other people by their choice of device and 40 per cent admit to judging someone by the network they choose.

7. PRIDE: 44 per cent say they have a right to do whatever they want with their mobile devices (even if it might bother someone else). 

The most prevalent personality in India, on the other hand, is "ichatty", which McCaughan described as driven by a need to "distribute their words as far and wide as possible—it’s about being noticed."

China is the top country for a type called the "Mobile Maitre-D"—the people who schedule their day to the minute using mobile tools. "They have everything organised, and they know how to use technology in the best possible way to get the most advantage for themselves," McCaughan said.

"In general, big developing markets are much more adventurous and open, and have a much greater desire to use these technologies to be connected with as many people as possible," he said. "In developed markets, the strongest personality types were the data divers, for whom being connected is all about getting the data."

Globally, the study found that people are more outgoing in the mobile world than in 'real life', with the percentage calling themselves "reserved" dropping from 57 per cent in face-to-face communications to 35 per cent on mobile. The biggest shift was observed in China, where 38 per cent of people switch from reserved in face-to-face communication to more outgoing on mobile.

When it comes to the 'deadly sins' of mobile (see sidebar), McCaughan observed that the "envy" element does not come into play in Japan. "In Japan, everybody's got a good phone, and everybody has had a good phone since they were 11 years old," he said. Choice of carrier, and to a lesser extent device, is more of an economic decision in Japan than a personality expression, McCaughan said, adding that this fact seems lost on one operator that consistently tries to market itself as the "cool" carrier.

India represents the polar opposite. "The device really matters there," he said. "It's a badge factor that is extremely important—as does as what you have on the device."

Other east-west differences McCaughan found worthy of note:

  • While gaming and gamification are important all around the world, they are more significant for consumers in developing countries.
  • 49 per cent of Chinese admit to illegal downloading content, compared with 29 per cent worldwide. Is that a difference of behaviour or simply one of admission? "We think it's a little of both," McCaughan said.
  • People in the Philippines strongly tie their mobile phone to their personality, he said. "They are actually much more likely to be outgoing through their mobile phone, much more likely to express themselves very vividly, or to directly answer a question." Consumers in the Philippines proved the most active on the online communities that were part of the research, he added. "There didn't seem to be any barriers in terms of what subjects should and shouldn't be discussed."

Consumers in Asia tend to see mobile
technology as more beneficial.

In terms of global findings on importance to brands, the report authors noted that the most common type of mobile ad consumers have seen is an SMS text (48 per cent) and that as a result, they are open to more engaging marketing, with 63 per cent expressing a wish for more entertaining advertising.

The authors also noted the way people grapple with maintaining personal relationships versus interacting through their phones. "Particularly when we look to the future, we see the possibility of creating 'priority lanes' to connect us with those we love most," the report authors wrote. "We’re also going to find new ways to combat tech with tech, using devices to create times and spaces free of overconnection."

The article first appeared on Campaign Asia