Retailers, let's face the challenges
of innovation together

The smartphone, a facilitator of our daily lives!

Amandine & Caroline
Access Panel Echangeur Experts
5 minutes

Using data from the Access Panel based on 14,000 individuals representing Belgians, Spaniards, French and Portuguese, let’s study the place of the smartphone in the digital equipment of Europeans and explore some of the activities carried out there.

Smartphones are central to the daily lives of Europeans

Today, more than 80% of Europeans surveyed in France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal have a smartphone. High equipment that is relatively homogeneous from one country to another. France stands out with smartphone ownership that continues to increase (+4 points compared to 2020).

The smartphone thus becomes the norm. Even those over 60 are massively equipped, with detention close to the national average, including in France and Belgium, where this age group even caught up during the Covid crisis.

As we can see, the smartphone is becoming more and more important in our lives and even gradually tends to supplant the computer. As proof, smartphone ownership now exceeds that of fixed or laptop computers in the 4 countries covered by the Access Panel.

It is especially among the younger generations that the latter is the most in decline: only two thirds of French, Belgian and Spanish aged 18-29 are now equipped with a computer (-11 to 12 points vs 2020) and three quarters of Portuguese (-10 points).

Europeans have fewer and fewer computers. Why? … because many uses are increasingly realized on smartphones, obviously!

An explosion of usage on smartphones/tablets… with varying levels of maturity from one generation to another, from one country to another

We have witnessed an explosion in smartphone usage since 2020, accelerated by the Covid crisis. Out of the ten or so activities tested in the Access Panel study, progress of 10 or more points was evident in all the countries monitored.

Among the activities that have made the most progress is M-commerce. With an increase of 7 to 10 points compared to 2020, buying on the Internet via smartphone or tablet is now practiced by just over 40% of French and Belgians, and about half of Spanish and Portuguese. In these 4 countries, it is the 30-44 year-olds, most often families, who use their smartphone more to buy on the Internet. As a sign of a generational fracture, the 60 years and older, yet widely equipped, are lagging behind, especially in France. However, it should be noted that in Spain, seniors experienced the largest increase in their online buyer rate via smartphone (+ 18 points vs. 2020) while in the other countries, this practice increased the most among 45-59 year-olds (44% in France, up 18 points vs. 2020; 48% in Belgium, up 14 pts; 49% in Portugal, up 17 pts).

Another use that has experienced a large increase in recent years, the QR-code. Especially highlighted during the pandemic, it has seen its users increase by 11 to 16 points depending on the country: more than half of Spanish and Portuguese have scanned a QR-code with their smartphone to get information about a product in store. A practice that concerns only a third of French and Belgians. It is interesting to note that seniors are as familiar with QR-codes as young people, but it is primarily families and young people who have adopted them the most.

One of the uses that varies the most from one country to another is using your smartphone to pay in-store. Portugal and Belgium are the champions of this method of payment with more than a quarter of their population embracing this practice. In comparison, France lags significantly (only 12% use it), with a lower dynamic than in the other countries (+4 points in France vs. +12 points in Portugal). And this observation is even more blatant among French seniors who are virtually unaware of this possibility. In any case, everywhere, it is the young people (18-29 years) who use their smartphone the most as a means of payment in store, followed closely by the 30-44 year olds in Belgium, Spain and Portugal. In all countries, wealthy families with children under the age of 15 are also among the biggest users of this service.

Finally, let us end by evoking the Social Trade still in its infancy, but which presents a strong potential for development. For the moment, there are only a few people who buy via social networks via smartphone (between 10% and 15% of French, Belgian, Spanish and Portuguese have bought via this channel in the last 12 months), and mainly among the youngest. But the use of social networks has intensified particularly since the pandemic, and today almost everyone is active, young and old alike, to a much lesser extent. Of course, the networks are different, Facebook being the first network of the 60 years and over, when Instagram was imposed on the 18-29 years old. Social networks are now positioning themselves as essential media, pushing brands to consider them a major point of contact in their development and loyalty strategy. Let’s bet that the history of Social Commerce is just beginning.

We can see that the smartphone, always within our reach, is anchored more and more in our consumption and our purchasing journeys, by facilitating the taking of information (via QR-code), by allowing us to buy on the Internet anywhere and anytime, even by buying from our favorite social networks, and by providing a means of payment in store!

However, it should be borne in mind that, while overall usage has increased, it is still far from being the majority among all European populations. This illustrates a two-speed digitalization, some of which are still partly excluded, with seniors in the lead.

Amandine & Caroline
Access Panel Echangeur Experts
Back to the top