Mobile Moves into the Teenage Years
I’ve been following the evolution of the mobile consumer here at InsightExpress since 2007 through our quarterly Digital Consumer Portrait study. Over the years, I’ve witnessed consumer confusion, curiosity, real interest, and delight when it comes to all the experiences that mobile phones can supplement in their lives. I’ve also had an inside perspective when it comes to mobile strategies and how agencies and brands develop their tactics to reach the consumer on their device. With all of this experience, you’d think that I’d be an expert on the mobile consumer. And I would, except for one tiny little thing…consumers change and they change quickly.
Let’s take the whole “reaching consumers when they are on the go” strategy. About a year ago, this was a viable way to think of advertising and marketing on mobile. But then consumers started reaching for their mobile when they were at home. They were doing things that they normally would have done either on a computer or just not done at all. This progression to using a mobile phone as a substitute computer can throw a whole strategy into irrelevancy. It’s not enough to just use one creative and call it a day. Now we need to be thinking about messaging based on dayparts, how we’re going to get their attention when there is likely other media competing for it, and how we’re going to drive them to purchase when they aren’t out and about.
We also need to be thinking more broadly than mobile as a single channel. If consumers are bouncing all over their phone, using the Mobile Internet, apps, video, SMS, and so on, how can we take advantage of all those eyeball opportunities (ee-bo’s)? My recommendation, as a constantly consumer chasing expert-wannabe, is to think of mobile as a cross media execution. Yes, we need to incorporate it into our larger media strategy, but what I’m recommending here is that you develop a specific cross-mobile media strategy. How are all of the media channels or touchpoints available in mobile going to work together to meet your larger mobile campaign objectives?
Now that we’ve covered the substitute computer/cross mobile portion of my post, I’m going to throw you another curve ball. It won’t be that bad, but it is another piece of the consumer puzzle that will shape your strategy. Smartphones are the new phone; we’ve all seen the projections that by a certain date, they will have taken over the world. What these projections fail to highlight is that as more people use smartphones, the demographic and psychographic profile of these users becomes less homogenous. This shift leads to what I call the rise of the Pleasantly Confused Mobile Consumer.
In January of this year, we found that 25% of the people who own a smartphone based on the model of phone they report having, actually tell us that it is a “regular phone”, despite being given specific definitions of each type of device. In other words, they don’t call it a smartphone. I labeled these consumers Pleasantly Confused because they aren’t upset or frustrated by the phones, but they are definitely unaware of all that the device they own can do. When we look at people who know they have smartphones, those who know they have regular phones, and our Pleasantly Confused consumers, an interesting finding comes out. Pleasantly Confused consumers look more like regular phone users in their use of mobile features than they do smartphone owners (see below).
The rise of the Pleasantly Confused Consumer means that we cannot assume that because someone has a specific device, they will be using specific features or content. Instead, we need to back away from focusing on the device defining our strategy and return our attention to the consumer. How will consumers want to interact with our brand on mobile? What information, content, or help can we provide them to drive them to purchase? Take advantage of the device capabilities (location aware, camera, etc.) but don’t get lost in developing a strategy that requires a consumer to have intimate device knowledge to succeed.
As I said before, the mobile world is changing every day, every week. It’s surprising, complicated, fun, hard to read at times, and it keeps me on my toes…sort of like a teenager. That said, I hope you found these thoughts helpful, and would love to continue the conversation if you have any questions.