As a number of speakers at the recent Mobile Insider Summit reminded everyone, when it comes to reach, there still is no beating SMS. Perhaps... unless you may be reaching out to wine shoppers. In an interesting in-store holiday push for Constellation Wines, Augme Mobile obtained an unexpected result. When given a choice between texting for more information and scanning a QR code for a link on in-store bottle neck hangers, published inserts and case labels, customers chose QR over texting 7 to 1. Odd, but true.
The unusual skew to smartphone users in this campaign may have something to do with the demo of the typical wine store shopper, which is where these users tended to encounter the promotion. But it also may have to do with the quality and the promise of the promo itself. As Augme CMO David Apple told me before the holidays about this program, the idea was to make the experience easy to use and as relevant as possible to the shopping experience at the point of purchase. "Constellation Wines had a key problem," he told me. "They sell to wine connoisseurs, intermediaries and to amateurs who buy once a year for the holiday. But they are on shelves packed with competition. So it was important to deliver a key component that would influence a purchase decision."
The answer was not a discount or another SMS sign-up to get more from the brand. Apple says that too often brands coming to mobile, especially in the form of branded apps, make the mistake of thinking consumers love (or want to love) their brands. "As we know, this is a farce," he says. What they want is not to love a brand but to appreciate someone who helps them out of the clueless stupor they suffer before a store wall of wine bottles. The mobile Wine Host, which comes at the other end of the SMS/QR code interaction, is a cool and genuinely useful mobile Web site (http://winehost.augme.com/Lite/Default.aspx) that calculates the amount of wine needed for parties and suggests wine and food pairings. Notice that "Sign Up for Promos" is the last item in the menu selection. In other words: Serve the customer before you shill the brand. "They expect the brand they are going to be loyal to deliver relevant content," Apple says. "If they have a family of five, then they better see recipes for five, or monster coupons. They are not going to go through downloadable apps or browse to see how-to videos."
Apple says the initial plan in this promotion, which included a rich variety of signage and mobile prompts at the point of decision, was to make the entry frictionless. "We have been preaching that the consumer needs the most seamless point of entry -- to do the least work." Just as it is ridiculous to think that consumers love most brands, too many mobile marketing plans seem to think that consumer also just loves playing with their mobile gadgets, jumping through technical hoops, digging out that specialized app... just to get another marketing message. So in this case the design offered both SMS and QR code options at point of sale. It wasn't all in-store, however. There was also a massive campaign of inserts in newspapers and mailings that promoted the offer and ultimately netted over 80% of the interactions.
Company strategists rejected the idea of using an app because it didn't fit the use case. "[Consumers] won't download an app as they make a purchase decision," says Apple. But apparently enough people remembered that they already had a QR code reader on board their smartphone to make the QR entry a big winner for the campaign.
The promotion has also helped Constellation and Augme understand the consumers and determine which stores and regions returned the best results. Apparently, New Jersey was most responsive to the mobile campaign, followed by New York City, California, Texas and Nevada. The companies can see what the patterns in party planning have been and which brands people tended to focus upon.
According to Augme, the party planner actually turned out to be less popular than the wine pairings tool. And the button to subscribe to more promotions was the least popular selection of all. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I imagine Constellation got more branding mileage and name recognition by servicing the customer, whether the user decided to opt into a longer relationship or not.
Which should be a good lesson for brands. The truth is, consumers really are not that into you. They are into what you can do for them. And so what? Is it necessary for a brand to be loved -- or just well-used?