The New Disruptive Mobile Behavior

September 2, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Find new opportunities when consumers walk, talk, ride and shop on the go.

Shopping for clothes used to be a location-specific activity shared with those physically near to you. With the evolution of mobile devices, it has become an opportunity to engage friends and advisors remotely in a global virtual showroom. Carpooling once was awkward in its silence. Now it is a chance to comfortably browse, shop and connect with friends far away on a smartphone.

Mobile device usage patterns have evolved rapidly, presenting marketers with new opportunities and challenges to navigate in this favored communication channel, noted Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

Walk, talk, ride, consume

One mobile behavior that fundamentally changes marketing is when people consume content on mobile devices while on the move, such as walking, riding on public transportation and ride-sharing. Going from place to place armed with a smartphone creates slices of time for people to get work done and entertain or educate themselves by listening to audio, watching video or reading.

Marketing opportunities: Take advantage of the fact that people are on the go and leverage location information for contextually relevant and real-time offers across the customer journey. Because recipients are active and moving, in-app messaging, push notifications and coupon delivery are all relevant engagement options. 

New technologies such as increasingly popular speech-driven virtual personal assistants (VPAs) offer options to capitalize on the new behaviors exhibited by mobile consumers. Ensure search engine optimization (SEO) strategies take user-initiated VPA sessions into account. This can also move audiences through a purchase or customer journey when they seek information about products or services sparked by media consumption.

Risks: Be mindful of privacy and personal data concerns. According to a Gartner survey of mobile app usage by consumers in the U.S., U.K. and China, worries about personal information, privacy, general security and payment security topped the list of concerns about current and future use of smartphone apps. In the worst case, poorly targeted, irrelevant or intrusive mobile engagements risk annoying consumers or triggering worries about security or privacy.

Shopping with friends near and far

Collaborative shopping is when people use mobile devices to communicate with friends, family or advisors during an offline shopping experience that used to be completed in person. In contrast to passenger transit opportunities, which are more mobility-centric, collaborative shopping provides social opportunities that have become available with mobile communication.

A significant number of shoppers who use their mobile devices in-store say they use them to call friends and family for advice. Examples include a friend asking for advice on the fit of a dress or a spouse checking which brand of peanut butter the children prefer. The implications of this are significant. Additional influencers who are remote now impact purchase decisions. Consequently, in-store merchandising may be outweighed by advice from remote collaborators.

Marketing opportunities: Include short, easily shareable links to compelling content in product packaging so that remote shoppers can consume the content wherever they are. To engage collaborators in the decision, add high-quality in-store video capture and sharing or virtual reality capability.

Risks: Don’t alienate companion shoppers with poorly optimized or content-sparse websites. These influencers may seek an alternative online and suggest it to the in-store shopper. Be conscious of the power and design of the actual store shopping experience. “Intrusive or interruptive in-store experiences,” said Ms. Newbold-Knipp, “could make shopping experiences uncomfortable and damage the customer experience for in-store and remote shoppers.”

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