In a classic case of marketer egotism, our industry has debated in the press for years when we’d hit 'the year of mobile' – as if that were a judgment call that was ours to make. In reality, it was always going to be our consumers’ decision.
And if it’s a decision for people to make with their wallets then, well, they’ve made it. The year is here – or maybe even past us, in which case many brands will have some catching up to do.
52 per cent of traffic to retail websites is coming from mobile devices and mobile commerce now accounts for 36 per cent of UK e-retail sales (and that’s actually 40 per cent for clothing and apparel).
This means pressure is mounting on brands' marketers to seriously engage with shoppers – and shopper marketing – through mobile devices, as a core element of the overall brand experience they create. Mondelēz International is one brand leading the pack, having declared a commitment to invest 10 per cent of its global marketing budget via Google mobile activations across the entire consumer journey.
The fact is, the year of mobile likely arrived several years ago, defined by behaviours that were inevitably going to be reflected in spend figures. It’s only now that many brands have realised they need to run fast to catch up to the place where shoppers and consumers have been active for many years. Marketers need to quickly understand their place in this reality and take steps to reinvent (or at least realign) their strategies to maximise the impact and benefit of mobile interaction with shoppers.
These trends drive a more critical need to get the brand experience right at the point where people become active shoppers – researching products, building shopping lists, accessing offers or making the decision to buy. If mobile is where people live, then mobile devices are where brands can live or die in the minds – and shopping carts – of consumers.
The shopper marketing industry is working to meet this change head on. 2014’s Shopper Marketing Expo in Minneapolis saw more than 50 per cent of exhibitors bring state-of-the-art digital touch points: digital incentives, mobile platforms, retail media, beacon technology and hyper-local targeting capabilities. The mobile wind of change has already blown through the shopping process.
If 'mobile first' is reality (and again, the people have already decided this) then brands who don’t embrace modern shopping behaviour and shopper marketing as fundamental components of the brand-building process are in serious danger of being left on the shelf.
So how do you build, or rebuild, the right way? Here are three immediate actions you can take to correct your course.
Audit what mobile tools are out there, how they are used, by whom and where along the shopping journey. These are the basics. Every brand serious about delivering a brand experience, wherever it meets consumers, must have this knowledge ingrained in its DNA. This isn’t an add-on; it’s your business foundation.
Understand the relationship between physical (traditional big box) and digital (e-commerce, m-commerce). Shoppers don’t see a divide, they just go where it’s most convenient for them. If you have a divide in your business model, cut it out.
Reorganise, because the days of brand teams, digital specialists and customer marketing professionals working in isolation are over. Retailers need strong brands supporting their businesses, bringing innovation and leading categories. And shoppers want brands that connect to them on their terms, and relate to their needs and lifestyle. Seamless physical/digital experience is now fundamental, and should sit at the core of marketing planning.
P&G (which spends more than $500m annually on shopper marketing) is outwardly demonstrating that its mobile shopper focus has accelerated to keep pace with the boom. For example, its brands have recently collaborated with Walmart to bring QR code-driven shopping on-the-go, to where shoppers can scan posters in their daily environment to order and purchase products from the retailer.
An earlier P&G mobile offering was the 'My Beauty Advisor' app, which came from the knowledge that the hair and skin care category was one where shoppers spend significant time looking for information. The app allowed users to gather information, read and write reviews, get personalised advice and utilise a bar code scanning function to in store.
Enhancing the purchase experience along these lines and personalising people's relationships with the brand leads to loyalty, advocacy and ultimately value.
Brands must recognise now that every element of the consumer and shopper experience has an impact on brand value. Get it wrong and you fail. Get it wrong in an area where 52 per cent of sales are conducted, and lose 52 per cent of your opportunities.
Capitalizing on the new market doesn’t necessitate incremental change. This is fundamental, and a 'brand selfie' or a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement on its own cannot seamlessly connect your consumer to your brand in the shopping arena.
If you want sales, get it right at the register. If the register is in their pocket, reinvent your brand so that you’re what they turn to when they’re out there living their lives.
John Saxon is shopper marketing director, EMEA at Momentum Worldwide