Mobile Marketing: Will smart phones change the game?

India has one of the highest mobile penetrations in the world. A report by McKinsey & Company suggests that India could become the first mobile digital society. Marketers are acknowledging the fact that mobile as a medium cannot and must not be ignored. With smart phones ruling the roost, the game can change further.

Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India predicts that India’s smart phone penetration can hit the 200-mn mark by 2015. Many brands are already engaging with the consumers via apps, geo-tagging marketing and the like. FMCG giant P&G’s Tide Stain Brain is one such innovative app that allows a consumer to browse the top 20 stains, according to occurrence. The end user can use search and filters to easily find stains by name or category. He can then retrieve the Tide stain solution, consisting of tips, fabric care notes and recommended Tide products, and contribute stain solutions right on their iPhone. Such a trend is only set to rise.

The smart phone sings to its possessor: ‘Wherever you go, I Go with you…I know all that you do…’. A smart phone carries a lot of information about him and travels with him. This information can make a lot of sense for marketers. The ‘Know thy consumers’ phenomenon comes into play here. The apps on social networking sites are a prime example of how a lot can be learned about the consumers while he is on the go. This learning helps understand what can be offered to him. For example: In terms of demographics, for a male deodorant brand, knowing young and male is enough to offer an adventure sport discount coupon.

It’s interesting to know that in its pre-IPO paperwork, Facebook reported that about 30% of its users in India access the service only from mobile phone. Analysts suggest the ratio will change further in favour of mobile, thus laying emphasis on the need to exploit this trend.

Furthermore, smart phones make Geo-location possible. The opportunity is to make a move according to consumer’s location. SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) has already been one of the trending topics, especially on Twitter. It is touted to be one of the most used jargons by CMOs and the ilk. This means, for e.g., when a person checks in at an airport, he may have lot of waiting time before the flight. This is the time when he is most likely to play that game by a brand. A smart phone user checking in a mall may be sent discount options for a coffee shop therein. This is a big trend globally.

A few good examples:

Fast food chain Wendy’s is driving its target consumers to its outlets to try new hamburgers via Geo-targeted mobile ad campaigns. It’s running mobile ads in conjunction with a broader marketing campaign that involves both TV & social media. The ads are running across both mobile Web and in applications, including the Shazam iPhone app and the ESPN mobile site. McDonalds, too, is using a similar strategy to boost sales of its McCafe beverage line and drive in-store traffic. It has also taken the mobile route to promote its products using the iPhone application from Pandora to run the ads. The app identifies the location of the smart phone user and tells them the distance to the closest McDonald’s restaurant. It also gives him additional information about the beverages that the company has to offer, including those available for only a limited time.

Besides branding, mobile apps have immense potential for gaining consumer insights. It can be a non-intrusive medium. Interacting with the target consumer over smart phones has the best of both worlds- connectivity of a computer and portability of the phone.

Marketing over smart phones has many benefits, engaging and targeting being the prime ones. We are yet to witness a lot of smart phone-specific mobile marketing. It will evolve as marketers learn what works best for them.

Jul, 30, 2012

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