Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us. Although the mobile results may not surprise you (somewhere between 16 and 22 percent of the period’s gifting took place on mobile and tablet devices, according to reports from IBM and Adobe), this one might: based on the same recent market data, roughly 2 percent of purchasing was spurred by social media. The attribution pundits are astir, no doubt, but regardless of eventual consensus, a clear transition has been made for many of us: our smartphones and tablets have become an essential digital display case in the holiday shopping shuffle. These devices, in and outside of established “social channels,” are inherently social machines.
Whether an immediate purchase took place on a device, or more likely, a combination of showrooming and eventual purchase, an increasing number of sales are occurring apart from brick-and-mortar and away from the desk. The data from BlackCyberDay -- as it often feels like a one crunched blur of rushed consumption -- is enough to make the most cynical mobile conservatives take pause.
Above and beyond the sheer volume of additional gift purchasing and ultimate giving that will take place in the weeks ahead, there is an all too easily forgotten pall cast upon those of us on the greater Atlantic coast: that of Sandy's and the closely following nor'easter's path of demolition. For many, giving has taken on a more vital significance. While the iFrenzy and related conspicuous device idolatry will continue deep into the holiday season, this year's Tickle Me Elmos are diapers, work gloves, brooms and other staple dry goods.
Events like these bring together odd pairings with common goals -- and can redefine geographic connotation. The Jersey Shore has reclaimed an identity separate from the much-maligned MTV association, but not the one of its heyday. Branding one's efforts during times like these is tricky -- falling somewhere between too maudlin and too passive may leave good work labeled as dispassionate, or worse, inauthentic.
The best advertising entices us to nominate, categorize and prioritize wanted items, aspirational products -- those things that bring entertainment, ease and elegance to our day. But where are the ads that ask us to forgo a given material non-necessity (that 7th merino v-neck in light cucumber pearl heather) for a pure donation? There is an untapped and mercifully self-serving opportunity here, something previously relegated to PTSD (Post Traumatic Sales Drives) commercial pleas from well-wishing retailers -- 10% of any purchase goes to a local community, the American Red Cross, or another worthy charity.
In truth, I encourage this and applaud those purveyors that weave this into their collateral. But where is the ad campaign asking people not to buy as much or the store clerk sighing, "are you sure you need socks with that" as he points to a donation jar?
While a meaningful portion of our holiday spending will undoubtedly occur via untethered devices (whether to research, redeem or acquire), mobile is also a powerful tool for helping those known and unknown victims of recent East Coast storms. Whether you are purchasing a new Nexus 7 via the Amazon app on your Galaxy SIII, researching a family trip to Disney on your tablet, or bidding on that perfect holiday sweater via the eBay mobile optimized site, you can just as easily make another statement.
Million-dollar donations from celebrities are amazing, noteworthy even, and so too are ten-dollar SMS contributions from concerned citizens -- which allow you to participate in both kinds of holiday giving: the gift of charity to others and the gift of knowledge that you finally texted something your Mom would be proud of you for sending.
And if you are interested in seeing why else mobile will be a cornerstone of the holiday giving season, take a look at some of our recent research. It's compelling.