Mapping the mind of the mobile consumer across borders

Philip Sugai (Graduate School of International Management, International University of Japan, Minami Uonuma‐Shi, Niigata, Japan)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To define the similarities and differences in perceptions that mobile consumers in culturally distinct markets hold towards the mobile internet.


Using the Zaltman metaphor elicitation technique (ZMET), mental maps between consumers from Indonesia and Japan were developed and compared.


Results showed clear structural similarities between aggregate maps, while differences were found in experiential factors such as technical infrastructure or the underlying business model. The main barriers to widespread consumer adoption of the mobile internet were not found in cognitive structures unique to individual markets, but appeared instead to be caused by inefficiencies within the wireless ecosystem.

Research limitations/implications

These results identified factors from a number of pre‐existing theories relevant to the mobile platform, suggesting the need to develop a new, more inclusive theory of mobile consumer behavior. ZMET was also shown to be an effective comparative analysis tool applicable to cross‐cultural research.

Practical implications

Marketers can establish sustainable competitive advantage by effectively addressing the many negative aspects consumers raised about the MobileNet. Additionally, these results suggest that the mobile platform can serve as the foundation for truly co‐creative marketing initiatives.


This is the first paper to explore the cognitive structure and content of consumer perceptions of the mobile internet. This study was also the first to apply ZMET as a comparative tool, as well as the first to extend ZMET to include composite weights of construct dyads.



Sugai, P. (2005), "Mapping the mind of the mobile consumer across borders", International Marketing Review, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 641-657.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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