Getting mobile is essential for brands

Alex Charlton, partner at Essential Research, says that brands need to capitalise on consumers using the mobile internet.

Alex Charlton
Alex Charlton

The ultimate challenge for marketers in 2010 is to unlock the opportunity within the UK’s mobile audience. With a quarter of mobile users already logging onto the mobile internet, this is a very attractive group for those brands that can get the message right.

This audience is younger (78% are aged 16-44) and more upmarket (70% are ABC1) than the average person – they are also highly social. With half of daily mobile internet users socialising with friends or family several times a week, a huge untapped opportunity for brand advocacy and recommendation exists.

The recent launch of the Mobile Media Metrics (MMM) measurement system by GSMA provides new data on the browsing habits of these mobile consumers, but even more valuable for brands is an understanding of what people really want from the mobile internet. We have recently undertaken a study to try and unpick what mobile users would like to experience through their mobile internet connections – irrespective of delivery mechanism and whether they currently use mobile apps and services or not.

Social networking is currently driving the uptake of the mobile internet, but the biggest unfulfilled demand out there is for functional information. As mobile phones have become a part of our daily attire, owners want location-specific information at their fingertips wherever they are – and they want it now. There is a significant opportunity for brands to forge a relationship with customers through services that save users time, effort and money.

Sixty-one per cent of mobile internet users want relevant information based on their areas of interest; and 63% are interested in information or directions based on their current location. In today’s financial climate, location-based money saving special offers and vouchers are attractive to over half (57%) of mobile internet users. Consumers are inviting brands to engage through the mobile internet; the challenge for marketers is delivering the right information or the right offer, right now and in context.

All mobile phone users are, of course, far from being the same, but running cluster analysis on our data does reveal several distinct groups of consumers, based on interests in different mobile internet services. For example, there is a segment of 16-44 female mobile phone owners characterised by their interest in information and offers relating to shopping across a variety of sectors – notably health and beauty and high-street stores. Understanding these key groups will assist marketers in designing bundles of services relevant to different types of people.

Of course, the attractiveness of information and offers depends on individual interests, but as a high level guide, some types of service have broad popularity with users. The chart at the bottom of the article highlights the ten services that have the broadest appeal among mobile internet users.

These types of services offer so much potential value to mobile internet users that almost half of all those interested would consider paying for them. There is, however, an opinion that these services could be provided for free, through either sponsorships or branding.

For services such as mobile banking, the level of consumer trust required makes this a given. The nature of the content also impacts how likely it is that consumers will pay. Brands certainly have an opportunity in delivering vouchers direct to mobile internet consumers; half of all those interested in alerts for nearby money-off offers think the service should be provided by their favourite high street store or department store.

Our study also reveals a significant future opportunity for brands from the 75% of those that don’t currently use the mobile internet. For instance, 54% of those that don’t currently use the mobile internet were surprised at some of the services available now, while 71% were actively interested in having at least one of these services on their mobile phone. For those without an internet-enabled phone, the types of service that will drive adoption most strongly relate to finance and banking, cost savings and personal organisation.

Mobile internet is a rapidly growing area of interest for consumers. As such, it should be a focus for marketers too. Brands have the opportunity to engage and monetise audiences wherever they are direct to the handset with relevant, targeted services that create mutual value.

Rank Type of mobile phone service % of mobile internet users interested
1. Real-time travel updates indicating train or bus delays, or roadworks 36.3%
2. A barcode scanner that allows you to look up product information on items 34.7%
3. A service that tracks in-store offers and informs you on where to get coupons and vouchers 33.9%
4. A ’what’s on’ guide of things to do in your local area 33.2%
5. A tool that books an appointment with your local GP instantly through your phone 32.9%
6. A secure mobile banking service that allows you to check your balance and make payments 31.7%
7. A service that alerts you to nearby money-off offers for certain goods 31.3%
8. An up-to-the-minute currency converter 31.1%
9. A TV guide that lets you see what is on, and allows you to programme your TV set top box 30.7%
10. Watch live TV or listen to the radio in real-time 30.3%



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