Ad-dendum by Milind Pathak: Mobiles are now a useful business tool for brands

Published: January 12, 2016 12:09 AM

The mobile can combine the old nuts-and-bolts business sensibilities along with the interactivity and connectivity of today. This is what makes it a useful business tool

In the morning you switch off the alarm on your smartphone; you use an app to exercise; at breakfast you are browsing through emails from last night on your smartphone and while driving to office connecting your smartphone to the car stereo and listening to your favourite music on Apple Music.

Similarly at noon you are checking your schedule for the evening; while sitting in a boring meeting you are browsing through your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. By night you are using Evernote at your home to make notes about a meeting or just writing; flipping the pages of your Flipboard app for leisurely reading and shopping on your favourite lifestyle app and all of this on your favourite smart phone. The extent to which these devices have pervaded our lives is apparent. Did you know that an average user spends more time with their smartphones than with their spouse or partner? Mobile as a business tool can combine the nuts-and-bolts business sensibilities with the interactivity and connectivity of today. No wonder many brands now are seeing mobile not as just a marketing tool that revolves around advertising dollars, but now it’s a full-fledged business tool for them. The growth, variety and increased layers of technology that are available across mobile devices have given way to specialised enterprise apps for specific industries and areas of enterprise.

Treading this thought path, the first movers in making a business mobile-first are the app-only brands that have become  rising stars of the Indian economy. Myntra, an early adapter of the app only business model, has in a year had 10 million downloads on Google Play while Snapdeal’s Shoppo has had one lakh downloads in a quarter.
Let’s now talk numbers and data here. A study by Millward Brown found that 52% mobile internet users use their mobile phones to determine if they need a product while 42% stated that they use their phones to conduct deeper research about a product. Finally, a staggering 38% said that they used a mobile device when making a purchase. These are huge numbers when it comes to seeing the pre-purchase and purchase intent of today’s Indian consumer. It’s not surprising that brands are spending millions to create the perfect mobile platform for their business.

If you will notice, in a showroom many people are looking at prices online of the clothes they are trying in the retail store. They check if it’s cheaper online, they will try what fits best and order that size online at better prices. This concept is known as ‘showrooming’ and many businesses have now launched apps keeping this consumer behaviour in mind. With the help of Augmented Reality (AR) mobile has created a handy showroom for everyone. For instance the Ikea app lets you see how a table looks in your room via the AR app or in a more Indian scenario, the Lakme Makeup Pro app uses your camera as a mirror and shows you how a lip colour looks on you. No need to go to the retail shop to try out what you want; a mobile app can now do it for you.

Nowadays, people don’t watch their TV with full concentration; they are always fiddling with their phones either instant messaging, reading emails or on social media. Capturing this insight into technology are Audio Beacons. You see an ad on TV and you will be pushed a similar communication of the same brand on your mobile phone. Why do you think this will work? The fact that a TV ad won’t lead you to a store to buy what you see but a mobile video ad can. Moreover, mobile will help you create identical audiences online similar to the ones you have targeted and expand your reach without putting in an extra penny on a TV ad. Another example of mobile technology for business is NFC (Near Field Communication). It’s an in-built feature of a mobile phone which can read short distance radio signals. They are mostly used as an integrated medium with outdoor advertising. The business turn here is when a consumer is in the vicinity of your outdoor ad that is NFC enabled. You can push meal coupons, sales information, location coordinates, advertising and more to a consumer’s mobile phone. This is direct impact and since the communication is saved in their handsets, they can retrieve and use as per their need.

The mobile is a genie for marketers — you rub it and you will get whatever you want. Consumer engagement, analytics, traffic, foot fall, views, ROI, leads, sales; you name it, mobile is capable of doing it. What you need is the right expertise and to experiment with mobile innovations. Now is the right time for your business to go

The author is COO, Madhouse, South Asia

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