A lot is going on in India at the moment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has big plans for our country, one of which is to make enterprise easier to develop India into an innovation hub that keeps pace with the fast changing world. To do this, Modi launched Digital India Week in early July—a project that seeks to empower citizens by deploying IT and associated tools, and aims to create 1.8 million new jobs.
Digital India had a fresh impetus towards the end of September, with Modi’s visit to the US where he met with top global CEOs of tech giants such as Facebook, Google & Microsoft. By initiating talks with these leaders, the Digital India vision aims to bridge India’s digital segment and bring big investments in the technology sector.
While steps are being put in place for rapid change, particularly around infrastructure and technological development, there is a huge disparity that still exists across India. Initiatives such as Digital India are great opportunities to harness and nurture India’s potential and get the development ball rolling.
The Indian smartphone sector is fast becoming an important market for growth, and competition among vendors is gaining steam. In 2014, India accounted for 7% of global smartphone shipments. This share is projected to rise to a massive 15% by 2020.
Mobile is especially important for marketers. In this hyper-connected world, mobile is changing the way people interact, make decisions and live. From diapers to beauty products, athletics and cars, a mobile-first strategy is fast becoming the norm in marketing teams across the world. The exponential growth and the rapid adoption of mobile are key to driving innovation in marketing.
The proof is in the pudding. Some of the industry’s most successful campaigns that we have seen in recent years—creative, innovative and effective—have been built around mobile. Especially as more and more companies see the need to cut through the clutter and be as close to the customer as possible. And nothing gets you closer to the consumer than mobile in this day and age.
Colgate-Palmolive’s recent award-winning initiative in India—Spreading a Million Smiles with Mobile—is a fine example of the power and the opportunity that mobile provides brands, as well as consumers. Colgate, the largest toothpaste brand in India, launched a scholarship programme in India to help cement its position in the country and build preference in the eyes of Indian mothers. With the scholarship programme, Colgate wanted to be seen as a partner in building the future of Indian children and used mobile as a medium to reach media-dark areas in Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
The power of mobile and its ability to reach the right user at the right place and time is demonstrated by the success and reach of Colgate’s campaign. Mobile targeted social media and video advertising recorded over 1.7 million unique users and 2.5 million views respectively. In addition, a total of 1.5 million call-ins were received about the scholarship programme.
However, as the conversation in our industry shifts towards how we can further build capabilities for leveraging mobile within the ecosystem, it is important to gain an understanding of how mobile is set to evolve in the future.
For the millennials and consumers of this generation, mobile is no longer technology. They are already growing up with the device in their hands and usability—not technological specifications—is of greater importance.
This prompts a shift in the role of mobile — and we will continue to see this evolve in the future. From fulfilling communications needs, mobile is now integrated into other aspirational technology innovations, including wearables, droids, retail channel marketing, outdoor media, and the list goes on.
Mobile devices will continue along this trajectory of becoming all-in-one devices for both work and play. In no time, we will be connected and consuming content on mobile in ways that we had never imagined. This will encourage the purchase prices of devices to drop further, especially as consumers begin to own multiple. We will also see a rise in multi-screening i.e. the simultaneous use of more than one device.
This rise of mobile and integration of multiple technologies into one device also presents great opportunities for enhancing the customer experience. For example, we can expect beacon technology to become more prevalent in the retail and QSR segment to capitalise on consumer habits and boost engagement. While there is a lot that can be done with new technologies, we will also see marketers using basic services like voice and SMS more creatively and integrating these into all their communications.
Another major change will be the move to a cashless society. E-commerce and m-commerce have already led to sweeping changes across the country and mobile payments and wallets will soon become an alternative to cash.
A higher purpose
But wherein lies the biggest opportunity for mobile in the future? When the focus moves from consumers to the betterment of the people; when mobile is leveraged for a higher purpose—to facilitate human consumption and social welfare, especially in geographies where traditional media has no reach.
Mobile is the ideal channel to distribute messages related to social issues, including healthcare, education and sustainability. It is critical to the progress of a community, especially due to the personal nature of the device. In India, there are several examples of organisations and communities that have witnessed a positive social impact by using a mobile-engagement strategy.
The mKisan SMS portal is a classic example of mobile technology being used to enable information sharing and knowledge dissemination in India. mKisan puts the power of mobile in the hands of farmers by allowing them to get region- and crop-specific advisories as per their own preferences in the form of text or voice messages. The timely advice and input about fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, and crop insurance provided by mKisan helps support small and marginal farmers in the country – the backbone of India’s agricultural economy. mKisan is but one example of mobile’s countless applications in a country like India. It is also a great success story.
In 2016, I am convinced mobile will continue to push marketers to rethink the way they approach marketing and engage with their brand’s consumers. With Digital India gaining momentum, marketers will have many new avenues and technologies to use to make their mark. I urge them to use the new data we have to better understand the needs and wants of their target audience and leverage new-age technologies to engage with consumers more effectively.
By Rohit Dadwal
The author is managing director, Mobile Marketing Association , APAC