Chapter 1 - The Rise of the Untethered Consumer
Mobile frees people from the desktop computer for access to information and services, enabling them to be connected at all times from wherever they are. This puts tremendous power in the hands of the consumers.
The mobile consume has the ability to consume content from their device at any time. Much of this consists of non-commercial activities such as playing games, watching film clips, checking the weather, and personal communication. But it also includes a great deal of commercial activity: evaluating products, checking prices, even making purchases. And in this regard, marketers should be acutely interested in the behavior of mobile customers.
Mobile Is Personal
Mobile is a personal medium. People watch television in groups, and multiple people may share a family computer, but the smartphone is virtually always used by a specific individual.
Moreover, people personalize their smart phones: they choose a given brand, purchase accessories, install applications, and set the software preferences according to their own tastes and desires. Each phone is customized to its user.
In rare instances where a phone is shared, the loan is typically brief and the borrower does not generally make changes to the configuration - and if he does the owner generally notices it immediately and resets it to his original preferences.
Individuals also have their own "mobile routines." There is no standard pattern of behavior for consuming mobile content, and a wide variety of behaviors.
Because of all of these idiosyncrasies, the mobile experience is highly variable and largely unique to each user. To succeed, marketer must shift from the mass-marketing model to a more flexible, customized, and personal model for the mobile world.
The Empowered Customer
Mobile empowers the consumer with information that is available exactly where they need it. They can check prices on location, compare items about competitors' offerings, and get advice from experts while shopping. They do not need to count upon the merchant to tell them everything, and do not have to trust in salesmen now that they are empowered to get the information themselves.
(EN: This has always been true, but prior to the Internet the information was difficult to obtain, and even with the Internet, users had the ability to access the information at home or office but could not remember it when needed. However, most customers didn't bother because it wasn't convenient enough.)
Mobile Makes It Direct
(EN: This section is something of an unfocused wreck that strays around various topics.)
- Because the mobile device is personal, it has "relevance that no other medium has" and customers feel more engaged with the experience
- Mobile is regarded as more interactive: the device is used to have conversations with others and to be connected to other people.
- For many users, mobile quickly becomes their primary communication tool, in both their personal and professional lives
- Mobile gives companies an opportunity to practice one-to-one marketing successfully - it is expected to be a more intimate and personal connection
The Customer as Mobile Platform
(EN: Another unfocused section)
- The critical factor in serving mobile customers is to provide them with unique and relevant value
- Users regard mobile as personal and are acutely resistant to messages designed for the masses
- User experience is critical: it's not sufficient to have the ability to do something on mobile - the experience must be easier and more enjoyable than the competitors, and even other channels.
- Neither is it sufficient to be slightly better. Mobile must deliver a "wow" experience.
Mobile Drives Behavioral Change
The author (again) speaks of the largeness of mobile - but addresses the notion that it's just teenagers. He claims 90% of teenagers have a cell phone, but only 35% of them have smart phones. It's much more prevalent among executives, more than 70% of whom us their phones for business communications.
He also pops off various statistics about the things people do on their phones: text, email, chat, take photos, use the Internet, and the like. People use their phones when speaking to others - to show pictures or reference information. They maintain directories, including people they don't want to talk with so that they see the names on their caller ID. And, of course, people use their phones to avoid social contact as well, pretending to be checking something to avoid speaking to a stranger.
People use phones in various locations to fill dead time: in line at a store, in the doctor's waiting room, during slack times in sporting events, and while waiting at stoplights.
They use their phones while shopping, often to get information about products they are considering - and seldom from the manufacturer or retailer. There is justified concern that brands who don't support are being left out of the conversation. (EN: This implies that they would be included if they did support mobile, but that's not guaranteed. It's not about presence, it's about trust, and brands have violated or failed to establish consumer trust.) Worse still, these conversations are considered private, so the brand is entirely unaware.
Another bulleted list is provided from a study that shows what customers do with mobile while shopping:
- Take a picture of an item to send to someone who's not with them
- Search for product reviews
- Retrieved product information (such as nutritional info)
- Search for better prices
- Searched for and used digital coupons
- Scanned a bar code
- Purchased the item from another source
In all, about 40% of mobile users surveyed claimed to use their device to make decisions while shopping. This increases to more than half for Apple iPhone users. It's also more common for technology, electronics, groceries, and clothing than for other product categories.
The cars.com site is briefly considered. It was established as newspaper circulations fell and customers looked online instead of consulting classified ads. The site has drawn an enormous audience, and in the present day most customers consult cars.com and similar independent sites rather than visiting manufacturer and dealer sites.
Customers were slow to accept their mobile presence - while the number of customers who use the Internet for car shopping is large and growing, mobile has not caught on. The small screen doesn't accommodate most car-shopping behaviors, which involves lots of information and side-by-side comparisons. Their greatest success in mobile is location-based services, showing the locations of dealerships that have specific vehicles in inventory.
The company has also had some success in facilitating conversations between prospects and dealers, enabling mobile-based conversations. They are continuing to build out functions in hopes of getting adoption, but the author provides no statistics other than their hopes to suggest that customers are actually using mobile more often.
(EN: In the end, I'm not clear of the author's intent, but the details he provides suggests the company has high hopes but customers aren't playing along. This is important to keep in mind because it's reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when businesses assumed that customers would pour in just because they had a web site.)
Whereas the Internet was limited to the US and Europe (countries with an established network of land-lines) mobile has been adopted globally and is particularly popular in nations without infrastructure. The author provides a list of countries in which the number of mobile devices outstrips the number of people, sometimes by more than two to one. This list includes many small nations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and even Africa.
Because there is no internet alternative, users in these locations make more extensive use of their mobile devices, using sites and applications on the small screen.
Luxury Brands and Mobile
(EN: I'll gripe in advance about the author's misuse of the term "luxury" to refer to premium brands: true luxury brands shun the mass-media, shun the internet, and are shunning mobile. Their desire is to be exclusive to the few rather than accessible to the masses, and seldom engage in marketing at all because it lowers their esteem to be seen as chasing after customers.)
The authors suggests that premium brands have shied away from the digital media because the technology was incapable of delivering the desired level of brand experience - but he expects that given the number of customers who are "going mobile," it is inevitable they will have to get on the bandwagon to compete.
A few examples are provided of premium brands who experimented with mobile: Waterford Crystal's app for New Year's Even that allowed people to toast with virtual glasses of champagne, and Tiffany's app that enabled users to explore various designs for engagement rings. No indication of the outcome or business benefits are mentioned.