The mobile (r)evolution: the facts and strategic questions
Initially, mobile was all about mobile calling. Shortly after that, text messages became popular. Today, it’s hard to imagine life without a smartphone. Things are changing fast! InSites Consulting‘s â€œSocial Media around the Worldâ€ study demonstrates that mobile stopped being about communication ages ago. We primarily use our mobile for entertainment reasons, such as playing games, or for reasons of convenience, such as calculating a route via a mobile route planner
The facts about the mobile (r)evolution
- Approximately one in two consumers own a smartphone. In most countries, the vast majority of consumers also have a data subscription on their device. This way they are constantly connected to the internet. 60%-70% use their smartphone to surf the net on a daily basis.
- 12% of the European internet population own a tablet.
- Consumers are mainly interested in applications that make their lives easier and help them in their everyday activities. Examples of popular apps include applications for simple note taking, looking for location-based info and comparing prices while shopping.
- More than half of consumers are prepared to make micropayments via their smartphone.
- More than half of consumers use their smartphone to compare prices while shopping.
- Consumers are much less interested in the communication possibilities smartphones have to offer than in the convenience and entertainment aspect. Since smartphones are being used for so much more than phone calls, we may have to substitute the word â€œphoneâ€ for something else in the near future.
- Smartphone users are far more active social media users. Incidentally, this is true on every level: smartphone users interact more with brands, they take much better advantage of the possibilities of social media and they are a member of more social network sites than people who do not own a smartphone or a tablet.
If you would like to know more about the mobile (r)evolution then you should definitely read the 2012 edition of InSites Consulting’s free â€œSocial Media around the Worldâ€ study. The final section focuses entirely on the â€œmobile questionâ€.
Strategic questions about the mobile (r)evolution for every manager
All the results of our study point in the same direction. Mobile isbooming and is changing consumer behaviour. This creates both threats and opportunities for a lot of brands and companies.
The mobile (r)evolution has three dimensions. Consumers use mobile technology for convenience, entertainment and communication (in this order of importance). I’m not confident that companies take all three dimensions into account when thinking about the mobile (r)evolution.
Question 1: Can I increase customer comfort?
Consumers mainly use their phone for convenience purposes. How can a brand take advantage of this fact? Can they offer certain location-based applications?
A good case in point is the example of American Express and Foursquare. American Express is working with Foursquare to promote the use of its credit cards among consumers and shopkeepers. In March of last year, the company started a pilot project in Austin, Texas. Shops like Starbucks, Whole Foods and Starwood took part in the project. The concept is to offer consumers the chance to get a $5 discount on a purchase by using Foursquare to check into the shop in question and subsequently paying with an American Express card. Foursquare and Amex make sure the discount is automatically applied to the check-out total so the shopkeeper doesn’t have to calculate it manually. Checking in and the Amex payment are all that’s needed to benefit from the $5 discount. This project creates a win-win-win situation. The customers’ check-in means free word-of-mouth advertising for the shopkeepers, Foursquare gains visibility and Amex turns the payment into a conversation starter.
Question 2: Is there a fitting way of providing my customers with entertainment?
Most smartphones are full of entertainment apps. Needless to say the idea is not to have every brand release its own game but there may be ways of offering entertainment that suits a particular brand. One of my favourite examples is Heineken and the Champions League. For years, Heineken has been one of the main Champions League sponsors. Sponsoring is far from cheap at this level. Due to the importance of the investment, Heineken decided to design an additional touch point and launch the Starplayer. This is a mobile application that provides football fans with extra interactive possibilities during games. Users can predict when teams will score, they can choose a man of the match and much more. The application works in real-time and is linked to specific games. In just a few months’ time, thousands of fans had discovered the Starplayer. Every fan who watched the game while playing with the Starplayer was connected with the Heineken brand for 90 minutes.
Question 3: can we improve customer communications via the customer’s smartphone?
A smartphone is obviously still a medium of communication. If you can get customers to contact your company faster using their mobile phone then this is undoubtedly to your company’s advantage. A good example are the city marketing applications that are becoming more and more popular. Boston was the first city to take the initiative. In 2009, the Boston city council launched their â€œcitizen connectâ€ application for iPhone. The app makes it possible for citizens to report all kinds of small inconveniences and irritations to the local authorities. This app is essentially the city’s way of asking its citizens for help in keeping their city safe and clean. The Bostonians reacted enthusiastically: the app was downloaded over 4,000 times in the first three months. Amongst others, citizens reported broken traffic lights, potholes in the road and graffiti on the streets. A few months later, a full 6% of all damage reports and service requests were sent via this application. The city asks for help and its citizens are glad to be of help. The application has made communication much easier and, as a result, all these minor inconveniences are reported much faster.