In December 2012, the last of the EU countries crossed the 50 percent threshold for smartphone penetration. Despite Europeans living increasingly mobile lives, which includes online browsing and buying, brands have not done their part to keep up with the consumer demand. In our new EU research supplement that focused on the Hair Care & Color vertical, we found that mobile innovation among that industry’s brands has been especially lagging. In Germany, where mobile usage doubled last year, only 9 percent of the 53 brand sites included in our study are mobile-optimized. In the U.K., where total mobile penetration (i.e., smartphone and cell phone) is at a saturated 130 percent, just 12 percent of brands offer a tailored mobile experience. With smartphones and tablets accounting for at least one-third of online traffic in Britain, brands are missing out on a huge revenue opportunity. And in an industry with low loyalty and high bargain-hunting, those missed opportunity could easily turn into a competitor’s advantage.
A more EU-wide problem for the Hair Care & Color category involves apps–particularly Android apps. Android currently maintains 61 percent of the EU-5’s smartphone market, yet none of the brands in our Index have a presence in the Android app store. iOS fares marginally better but still has an abysmal 59 percent of apps without a single user rating. Only eight regional brand apps have an average rating of four or greater. One of the few standouts in our research was L’Oréal Professionnel’s iColorist app, intended to “accompany” salon professionals as they become experts, achieving this through helpful, practical tips for specific procedures. The app is available with regional language support in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish iTunes stores.