BrainTrust Query: Mobile Marketing – Separating Trend From Fad

Discussion
Jul 05, 2011
Joel Rubinson

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from the Joel Rubinson on the Marketing Research blog.

I love the trendwatching.com’s definition of a trend:

"A novel manifestation of something that has unlocked or serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire, want, or value."

While mobile life is a trend, the device technologies and software have been fads so far. Remember Palm and graffiti? Blackberry has a fraction of the share it once had in the U.S. Apple iPhone is now being passed by a collection of Droids. Smart devices now come as tablets, not just phones.

So how about mobile as a marketing platform? I think it has gotten off on the wrong foot. Yes, people have a need to be social and Facebook is heavily accessed via apps from mobile devices. Foursquare appeals to the gamer in us and really only makes sense on a mobile device. But people don’t shop with these tools much yet, which will greatly limit mobile’s advertising and promotional value.

I believe that the tipping point for mobile as an advertiser "must-have" in their media mix will come when we move from gamification to simplification as our main marketing idea for how to use mobile. Forget the badges.

Try using Facebook, Stickybits, shopkick, etc. as you grocery shop. The first thing you will notice is that it adds a substantial amount of time to the shopping trip. That will never fly. Shoppers are time compressed and want to get out of the store faster. Foursquare doesn’t add much time, but it doesn’t currently add much value either.

Simplifying shopping choices through mobile would service an existing and hardly changing need — meeting the requirement of a trend. Make exactly the right offer at the right time to the right person in a way that gives them value and reduces shopper decision making time.

I saw hopeful signs of this at the Mobile Marketing Association forum. Modiv is moving their mobile shopper tool currently deployed in Stop & Shop from a dedicated device to an app for iPhone and Droid that serves offers based on exactly where you are in the store and your prior shopper preferences. Someone else demo-ed an imaginative solution for digital coupons being read by existing store scanner equipment. Of course, we heard from numerous speakers and exhibitors about coming mobile payment solutions.

By the way, it isn’t too late for Foursquare or Facebook to get in on this. Imagine checking in when you arrive at a store and getting a $5 off coupon on a total purchase of $50 or more and redeeming this offer electronically. That would drive footfall to a retailer, something which is precious to their business growth.

I don’t think that mobile will ever be a preferred platform to tell your brand story but I do think it can be the future of promotional marketing. That would be a trend.

Discussion Questions: What needs to happen to make mobile marketing more of an enduring trend? What do you think of the potential of mobile devices to simplify the shopping experience?

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13 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Mobile Marketing – Separating Trend From Fad"


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David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Joel makes a great point that using mobile marketing software while shopping actually adds a substantial amount of time to the shopping trip and that in itself is a huge negative. Speed and convenience is still too important even for the mobile or tech savvy consumer.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

I am so tired of hearing about providing “tangible value” in social media and marketing on mobile that translates to deals.

While I agree with Joel’s points that mobile adds a layer to shopping, not simplifies it, his final suggestion is another excuse to pay people to shop via discounts.

Is that the only arrow available in a CMO’s quiver? Really? Really?

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Mobile marketing is already a trend with the power to endure. However, it’s still in its infancy in terms of the saturation of smartphones and tablets as well as consumers’ know-how. Further, marketers seem to struggle with how to measure results and productivity as part of their overall media mix.

In some ways, the emergence of any “new media” goes through a learning curve. It happened to television, where it took at least 30 years from its start to the concept of tightly targeted “narrowcasting” on cable. E-commerce has gone through a similar (although faster) evolution, and I believe that we will see mobile marketing firmly entrenched in our lives as consumers five years from now.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Mobile is a trend. A trend can encompass change. Trend gains followers as it progresses over time. Just as the trend in handheld devices has progressed from the Palm to Blackberry, to iPhone and Android, so mobile is progressing from its initial roots.

Mobile applications have gained a foothold with consumers. New apps arrive daily, many pushing the current boundaries of mobile marketing. They might not embody the ideal of saving time and money, but they are progressing in that direction. As they evolve, they will mold to consumer expectations and become more widely used. A year from now we will look back and marvel at the progress that has been made. That’s the trend of the mobile marketplace.

Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
9 years 10 months ago

How can mobile simplify the shopping experience? It can help answer the questions that shoppers ask when they shop. The main questions are:
1. Where can I get it? (location, scarcity)
2. What is the difference between Product A and Product B? (features)
3. What goes well with it? (recipes, kits, ensembles, outfits)
4. Is it cool? What do my friends/family think? (brand, testimonies, exchange)
5. Can I get a better price? (deal)
6. What do I need to know to get the most out of it? (care and after market)

To get this right, retailers and brands must collaborate to face the customer in a unified way. Intermediaries such as Foursquare and Facebook will only be as valuable as the ability bring about this unification. If they don’t, they’ll be fads.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

As the old adage says: Just because you can do it doesn’t mean anyone cares. All of these “fads” and frankly most of the “trends” are coming from people with way too much time on their hands. At least right now it sure seems so.

At times I’ve felt that I’m moving into the “out of it” category because I have zero interest in all these ways of turning human experience into a technological experience. Maybe age is doing it. Then I catch myself and I realize I WANT to be ‘out of it’. I want simple human experiences. When I shop. When I eat. When I work.

There’s another topic today about the drop-out rate of online grocery shoppers. Why is that happening? Because few things are as intimate as food and that needs to be a human experience. And, yes, someone will soon come up with an app that infuses vitamins and minerals into your skin. That can be done because it’s all a matter of frequency. And they’ll be so proud.

Ron Margulis
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

The key is for data analytics to be applied so shoppers receive offers when they are most receptive. Almost more importantly, the analytics need to be used so shoppers don’t receive offers when they don’t want them. Many CPG companies and retailers are collecting loads of data about shopper interaction on mobile devices, but few are really turning the data into knowledge that can better engage and develop a long lasting discourse with the shopper.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 10 months ago
Mobile is not a device. Mobile is a lifestyle. Once marketers realize mobile is a lifestyle, they will start making better decisions on how to use it for marketing. I spent the weekend at an annual July 4 weekend bash. Thirty attendees coming and going over the 3 days. Great party. Not surprisingly, the host had to make a fill-in trip to the supermarket. He is all about in and out and no waiting. Of the supermarkets he could have chosen, he chose Stop & Shop. Why? Because they had hand-held scanners. He had his shopping list on his mobile phone. He used the hand-held scanner. Picked the items. Scanned each. Put each in his reusable bag. Waited a little in line to get to the scanner check out. Inserted the scanner. Swiped his credit card. And, we were gone. That is a mobile lifestyle. This mobile event is not conducive to marketing messages. Marketers must start thinking about where their messages will be positively received. They have never had to think about this before.… Read more »
Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Joel has it right–convenience and simplification have to be the advantage that mobile delivers to the consumer.

Working against solving that formula at this stage is one of bandwidth allocation and the continuous shifts in mobile offerings.

HOWEVER, the consumer is increasingly making use of the most ubiquitous device on the planet–mobile technology–to help them in their day-to-day experiences. The BIGresearch Consumer Intentions & Actions (CIA) Survey points to a fact that 47.8% of the Population is seeking internet/web access via their cell phone–that’s up from 34.0% just two years ago. And, 18.2% of the population is considering switching providers in order to have greater internet access, vs. 10.7% in 2009.

I can’t pull the iPad from my wife’s hands. But, once she has a smaller tool (Droid that she’s avoiding), she’ll be making use of that mobile device every bit as actively–especially if she receives the right type of messaging offers.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
9 years 10 months ago
I heartily agree with Joel on this being a fad, with the proviso that it is especially a fad to marketers, and hardly a fad among shoppers. As long as it continues to play to the “promotional” (AKA paying shoppers to buy) and “locational” (Where is the . . .?) it will never amount to a hill of beans in terms of marketing value. Paying shoppers to buy is a brain dead strategy much in vogue among hosts of faux-marketers who know nothing about actually selling stuff. It’s not that location couldn’t ever be useful, but simply that most shoppers are already familiar with the stores they regularly shop (habitually) and will no more need these services than you need Miss Garmin’s guidance on getting to work in the morning – or just about anywhere else you regularly go. So why am I so bullish on mobile in-store marketing? Because eventually mobile devices will actually do something of genuine value for nearly all shoppers, all the time. And right now, my best bet on this… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 10 months ago
American shoppers shop most frequently in supermarkets, and their average monthly expenditures there exceed most, if not all, of their other monthly shopping category averages for new stuff. I’m a supermarket guy, and I visit most of the stores near me regularly just to observe. I haven’t observed a single instance of a shopper using any kind of a smart device to aid their shopping. Sure, there are the clueless women talking to their mothers on smartphones as they aimlessly pilot (?) their carts through store traffic. But I doubt that motherly advice pushed through smartphones qualifies as mobile marketing. And frankly, I’m not looking forward to running a gantlet of distracted shoppers armed with heavy steel carts while staring down into their smartphones. For reference, think about the last time you navigated an airport concourse. Was anybody actually looking up? Joel Rubinson, I think you’re right on the money. “Badges? We don’t need no steenking badges!” Taking a small liberty, as Charlie Brown once said, “[Mobile Marketing] is like wetting your pants in a… Read more »
Carlos Arambula
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

In order for it to become an enduring trend, mobile marketing has to provide a value: value in dollars, time, convenience, ease of use, retail support, and — perhaps more important than the other elements — peer interaction. It will happen in some categories, but any attempt to rid consumers of the shopping experience will fail.

In countless of qualitative shopping behavior studies, I have yet to hear a consumer express a desire to entirely eliminate the shopping trip. To many consumers, especially women and in small communities, the shopping trip, with all the time consumption, is part of their social life. It’s how they stay connected.

I do believe mobile devices can simplify the shopping experience, but in order to succeed they need to incorporate the social aspect of shopping.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 10 months ago

Even traditional marketing channels still deliver a huge amount of junk and irrelevance!

Some companies clearly do a much better job than others. I expect the same will be true for mobile.

Consumers will be expecting and demanding personalized relevance and value. Few companies can do this today in their mature marketing channels so will struggle. Building a mobile marketing team, will add another dodgy extension on a shaky foundation.

I suppose what I’m getting to is that I hope “mobile” acts as a catalyst for change…because to me the thing that is broken (still) is marketing.

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