“GameSpot gives it four stars,” my daughter dictates from her phone screen while we are in the GameStop store looking for her next RPG. “Sean says the game sucks, though.”
Wait a sec -- how did she find all that while I am still waiting for my GameSpot app to load? This is one of those parental moments akin to your kid first faking you out on the basketball court. How did this post-teen progeny of mine, who only recently told me she doesn’t “bother much with apps,” zip past me and pull down both review and peer-to-peer evaluations on the game in her hand?
One of the under-appreciated new geek sports in the aisles of stores and in bars everywhere is smartphone racing. Whether it is a question about a product on a shelf or an obscure movie trivia challenge, mobilistas of all stripes know when that virtual start gun has sounded. They scramble with their smartphones to be the first to find the answer. Victory goes to the person with the right combination of mobile search skills, network quality and signal strength. But with my daughter, who is on the same iPhone and AT&T faux-4G network as I, it is just raw talent.
“What are you using?” she asks.
“An app. I couldn’t find where GameSpot reviewed it.”
“I just Googled it and the review came to the top. I texted Sean. He plays them all. You sure you know how to use that iPhone?”
Wiseass. The mobile skills she must have gotten on her own. The sarcasm definitely comes from my genes.
But according to leading health and beauty product reviews brand TotalBeauty, I shouldn’t be surprised at my daughter’s mobile shopping prowess. In a study the company will release widely next week, they found massive adoption of mobile as a shopping tool among women, even in categories like health and beauty. According to Head of Marketing Ethelbert Williams, my daughter’s reflex to ask a friend alongside consulting a formal review is to be expected. “Peer reviews have trumped everything else,” he tells me about the mobile shopping habits of his audience. “Peer-to-peer is the conversation starter.”
TotalBeauty, which claims a reach of 160 million, studied how women were multitasking with phones and using their smartphones before and during shopping to better understand how brands need to intercept the new mobilized shopping habits. They found that 60% of women are using phones and tablets for shopping, and more than half are using them in-store. The 25- to-34-year-old segment is especially avid, with 73% of them using phones for shopping tasks.
While most are looking for product reviews and product attributes, Williams says that a quarter of women are also using their devices in store to find relevant coupons. “The brands that will capture her attention are the ones who offer an incentive,” he says. This doesn’t have to be a discount. “It is not just coupons. It might be sampling or the right piece of content or a gift with purchase…something that can intercept her.”
Interception may be the key idea here. TotalBeauty finds that half of respondents spend two or more hours a day with their mobile/tablet devices -- a quarter of their leisure time. “They are not having long, drawn-out conversations, but snackable moments,” Williams finds. They are multitasking and often distracted, and they are not necessarily looking to spend a lot of time with a product manufacturer. “Everyone thinks their brand page is going to be a destination, but you have to insert yourself into the conversation, whether it is in 'Draw Something' or 'FarmVille'.”
Insertion and interruption may be the names of the mobile games, because most of these women are spending a lot of time with games, the most popular app download category in this survey. About 60% of them are gaming on phones every day. In addition, 90% are using their phones while doing something else like watching TV (18%), listening to music (13%), listening to the radio (12%), cooking (12%) and commuting (12%). The multitasking component of mobile makes multiscreen marketing a no-brainer, Williams contends. TV or radio teasers to go online for more information play into the patterns of multimedia usage.
The mobile platform opens up countless new routes to information and almost as many different contexts and use cases for brands to track. Even as our mobile habits evolve and fragment in the post-PC era, marketers will need to become much smarter about weaving presence and offers into a platform that is as much about fun and distraction as it is about completing tasks.
Like a twenty-year-old, wisecracking daughter who outsmarts you with a simple product look-up, the mobile shopper is likely to be a few steps ahead of marketers for the foreseeable future.
“You know there is a search box on that browser, right?” my daughter chides. “You need some help with that?”