Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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I love the definition from of what a trend is.

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

“At the core of this statement is the assumption that human beings, and thus consumers…deep seated needs remain the same, yet can be unlocked in new ways.”

So now let’s talk mobile. 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 US.  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 their advertising and promotional value.

While social and the diversion of playing games are enduring human needs they are trumped by simplification and value when we are in shopper mode.  In particular, 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.

Download the main apps today that could have relevance to shopping and then try to shop with them.  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, and retailers want you to be more efficient so you have more time to add more stuff to the shopping cart. Foursquare doesn’t add much time, but it doesn’t currently add much value either.  Have you noticed that the tips people leave about places are often a year old?  We are getting bored with checking in for points and badges.

I spoke at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum in NY last week and said that the promise of mobile for advertisers is simplification of our shopping choices.  This 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.

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