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We recently teamed up with mobile messaging provider OpenMarket on a piece of research to find out what consumers really thought about Rich Communications Services (RCS) and the opportunities it presents to interact with brands in a more compelling way. RCS is incorporated natively into a phone’s default messaging service and enables users to enjoy enhanced messaging services such as group chat, video, gifs, file and location sharing amongst many others without needing to download an app. There’s certainly been a lot of noise about it in recent months with a stream of news stories highlighting over 50 network launches with the backing of tech giants such as Google, Samsung and others. We also recently announced a number of network interconnections that make it even easier for people to message contacts across different networks. On the RCS Business Messaging side we have also seen a huge number of top flight brands starting live consumer trials.
As part of this research we interviewed over 2,000 consumers in Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States to give us a broad view and find out what consumer perceptions really were. The results were overwhelmingly positive with nearly 80% expressing interest in RCS functionality and many claiming they would use it tomorrow. A large majority of respondents were also keen for this to be a standard in the near future and saw it as a natural progression from SMS. Consumers also trusted their mobile network to deliver RCS and would be more likely to stay with their MNO if RCS was offered.
In the four markets, traditional voice calls was still the most popular feature used by the majority of consumers on their smartphones on a daily basis, with video calls gaining in popularity and SMS still more popular than Instant Messaging. Different messaging platforms were popular in different markets, for example, Messenger by Facebook is the most popular communication app overall, and the most popular in the US and the UK but WhatsApp is most popular in Mexico and Kakao Talk the preferred app in South Korea. Consumers also use different apps for different activities, frequently jumping between apps which was found to be a nuisance. For example, many would use one app for video calls and another for Instant Messaging. It was also common practice to communicate with different groups of people on different apps.
The research highlights a consumer demand for simplicity with the majority of respondents claiming that they would like to organise their lives on their phones, using functions built into the phone rather than using multiple downloaded apps (59 per cent). Many would also prefer to have less apps (45 per cent) and disliked switching between different ones to contact different brands for different activities (42 per cent). Consumers also expressed interest in being able to send and receive more visual messages that helped them to express their emotions of feelings more clearly.
RCS Business Messaging
RCS Business Messaging lets mobile subscribers communicate directly with multiple brands from one messaging platform in more interactive and engaging way, to make restaurant reservations, book train tickets or retail purchases without having to juggle numerous apps. From a brand perspective it opens up a new channel to reach and engage with customers which can be used for a variety of different customer experiences such as advertising or customer care. Crucially, it doesn’t require investment in a standalone app as it incorporated into the messaging platform itself. RCS Business Messaging will provide brands with important behavioural data normally associated with email and/or web-based campaigns (e.g. delivery receipts, read receipts, on screen event tracking).
The research also anticipated that RCS Business Messaging would become an important revenue driver in its own right for both operators and brands in the future. GSMA Intelligence also estimates that the RCS Business market will be worth $74 billion by 2021.
The research highlighted that 70% of respondents would be more likely to communicate with a brand using RCS Business Messaging. They also expressed interest in having a personalised experience when interacting with a company (64 per cent) with many thinking brands generally lacked a personal touch (46 per cent) which would engage consumers a lot more. Many also found it easier to communicate with an organization over SMS or IM (52 per cent) rather than email with most opening an SMS or IM as soon as they received it (62 per cent). Crucially, the research highlighted that over half would stop using othe messaging apps if SMS offered the same functionality (51 per cent). We also gave consumers a number of different ‘typical’ examples where RSC Business Messaging could be used such ordering takeaway food, restaurant and travel bookings online shopping etc. Over two thirds said all of these use cases appealed to them, with support ranging between 68% and 77%.
“This research proves that RCS is the next step in brand-to-consumer messaging. It’s a great platform for interacting with customers, driving high engagement rates, delivering a much richer user experience, and providing excellent data back to businesses looking to optimise the customer journey,” said Greg Hoy, Director of Product Management, RCS Messaging, OpenMarket.
The GSMA’s Future Network programme has worked with the industry to accelerate the adoption of RCS services in an incredibly short space of time. Over 70 leading operators, vendors and OS providers support the GSMA’s Universal Profile, which provides an open, consistent and global messaging service across networks and devices. We have already seen over 50 operator launches and recently announced a number of network interconnections across Europe and Americas network that is helping to scale a rapidly growing base of global users. Our in-house analyst team, GSMA Intelligence estimates that there is currently around 159 million active monthly users, which is expected to double to approximately 350 million by Q4 2018 and then double again in 2019.