Whither Mobile?

by , Jan 25, 2012, 7:34 AM
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It’s hard to imagine that any brand could be holding back on its mobile marketing initiatives. The growth pattern is too fast; the consumer behavior migration too sudden. Some evidence is showing up, though, that high-end brands might be underestimating the affluent customer segment when it comes to mobile. This could be a big mistake.

First: The evidence. A mid-January survey by luxury branding "think tank" L2 shows that high- end brands are way behind the curve for mobile marketing. Only two-thirds of prestige brands maintain a mobile-optimized site, and one-third of these mobile development efforts do not yet support commerce. Of the top ten brands that were recognized for outstanding mobile presence by L2, only one travel brand made it: InterContinental. Now, it’s understandable that mobile commerce may not have reached effective scale for many top-end brands. In fact, Unity Marketing’s Pam Danziger has said that mobile is more likely to be used for social networking by affluent customers and, as of yet, mobile hasn’t reached critical mass for shopping.

Which is not to say that it won’t get there. Mobile has continually surprised even the most aggressive analyst predictions. A mobile presence for high-end brands will be necessary. Even if affluent behavior on mobile devices hasn’t been thoroughly scrutinized, there’s no reason to believe that this customer segment won’t show the same level of intense growth and intense usage. I see a lot of the travel segment as our company expands into new verticals, and I can tell you that mobile devices will be a key hub in the audience targeting and affluent behavioral segmenting that is so important to catching up to the customer, where the customer wants to be. 

But high-end brands should not look at mobile as a fixed target. In fact, the best is yet to come. We’re currently working on creative and advertising strategies that can enhance branded app experiences through uses of an embedded browser. We’re also working with several leading local deal aggregators and national advertisers to optimize the mobile experience with user data and online campaign performances. It will support various mobile actions such as click to call, click to download, and click to purchase. Right now those are very important for the travel vertical. They will be important in every vertical as mobile achieves scale.

Another recent survey illustrates this point. Cars.com teamed up with Nielsen last week and found that mobile shoppers for the automotive category are younger, with individuals 34 years of age or younger representing 40% of the respondents. Most are in the market for a new car (73% of recent purchasers bought a new vehicle) and are more affluent, with 79% reporting a household income over $50,000.  That’s not the top end of the affluent spectrum, but it is an indication that brands need to get mobile and commerce-enabled.

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