How consumers are using mobile to shop IRL (In Real Life) is of paramount interest now that mobile has finally arrived. A few figures to run through. The first, below, describes what consumers report they want from mobile phone applications, for the holidays, in August 2011.

A common behavior, well known to clicks-and-bricks retailers, is that consumers will research products before coming in store to buy them. This is especially true of electronics goods, but I suppose it’s conceivable they do it for home appliances, automotive purchases, and anything else that is generally of high consideration. Mobile offers the capability of researching while you’re physically in the store. And, since most stores are now ghost towns, it enables the consumer to help themselves.

Expect more of that in December 2011.


Note the desire for coupons and sale information. People want deals, dammit. It’s not exactly something I’d be pushing if I were a mobile marketer. Why cannibalize my in-store sales? Well – I might think of a way to drive urgency using the device. But I wouldn’t want to throw a “20% off” display ad just because I want proof linking the mobile channel to in-store sales. Certainly, there could be a mechanism. A reward of some type, perhaps.

Finally, there’s that 32% figure that sticks out. ‘Buying products’. It’s 2003 all over again and smartphones are to mobile commerce as broadband was to ecommerce.

The second set of statistics follows below. They used a control group and they’re reporting the differences. It’s suggesting that mobile is more effective at driving a number of brand metrics (not direct attribution metrics like a web analyst might assume). Their reporting on the relative impact of the channel on self-reported attitudinal changes, post exposure.


A summary states:

“According to Dynamic Logic, there are three important factors that drive a successful mobile campaign. They are the location of a brand name or logo within a mobile ad matters: left-side brand placement is generally most effective and has a strong impact on advertising recall; clear and persistent branding is important for brand awareness and a strong call-to-action encourages interactivity and engagement and helps drive purchase intent.” Source.

The take away is not “use mobile to drive awareness”. That is not a good takeaway. Mobile is not a mass awareness channel, no more than paid search is. It’s not the way the channel works and it’s certainly not the way consumers want the channel to be used with them. Do you really want to hit people with a SMS coupon every time they visit Deborah in accounting at the north side of the building? (It’s just within the 200m radius of a Starbucks). That’s the wrong takeaway, even if it is highly likely that awareness is higher. (It better be, there’s less on the screen to look at.)

Mobile, good mobile, forces much more discipline. It demands subtraction. It demands that choices be made. This isn’t a corporate webpage where everything can be added.

There’s more constraint because there’s more constraint.

Finally, there’s Korea. It’s the last piece of evidence I’ll put forward.

The video below explains how Korean marketers are assisting people rescue otherwise wasted time. In this instance, it’s shopping from the subway, using smartphones and codes.

This represents a fairly impressive increase in productivity. Mobile enables consumers to be more productive in their lives by converting what was previously wasted opportunity into rescued time. You’re also resurrecting outdoor display advertising and commanding direct consumer attention AND action. It’s awesome and goes well beyond ‘click this QR code to see our awesome marketing microsite’.

Recall the product adoption lifecycle. Innovators will try things simply because it’s novel. There’s a long chasm. Is that chasm ever brutal. At the other side of it there are early-adopters. Early-adopters will try things because it’s obvious that it will be useful. What we’re seeing here is some evidence that we’re through the chasm, at least when it comes to porting very common digital activities that used to happen on a laptop, over to a mobile device. The grayer area is the role of portable devices (tablets) and that role in driving changes in consumer behavior at mass.

How would you use mobile, not so much to increase awareness (it’s not a mass channel) but to complete the action-purchase portion of the conversion cycle?