Probably not a surprise to most of us, but mobile device usage continues to rise rapidly. In April 2015, Pew Research Center reported that nearly two in three Americans owned a smartphone. The percentage among Millennials was even higher, exceeding eighty percent. In October 2015, eMarketer reported that usage of mobile devices for non-voice activities has increased 278% since 2011, surpassing time spent with desktops or laptops in late 2014. These devices have become the place to be for advertisers. But usage isn’t the only reason for advertisers to covet this very personal screen.
Mobile technology has evolved rapidly since 2011, to the point where the smartphone could be considered the new “Swiss Army knife” of consumerism; 85% percent of smartphone owners have reported using their smartphone on a shopping trip. This presents a huge opportunity for CPG and Retail marketers to influence consumers at the point of purchase; nudging undecided consumers to their side of the fence.
Adoption, usage, and technology advancements have made smartphone screens the new battleground for CPG and retail marketers. Proximity targeting, beacons, mobile coupons and mobile pay are the newest outlets where brand marketers will have to put their best foot forward to stand out from the competition.
- Proximity Targeting – This has been the go-to targeting strategy for a majority of CPG and retail brands to influence consumers while near a store or in-store. This allows advertisers to serve messaging when a consumer breaks a “geo-fence” around a particular location. Proximity targeting has become an addition to out-of-home efforts to maximize brand recall prior to and during the shopping experience. For quite some time this was the only “guaranteed” way to reach consumers while they were in-store until beacons were popularized in 2014.
- Beacon Technology – A sub-section of proximity targeting, beacons have enabled the holy grail of shopper advertising: in-store mobile messaging. Beacons allow advertising transmission through the Bluetooth functionalities of smart devices, getting as granular as in-aisle messaging. Point-of-purchase advertising has become a reality; media platform Unacast estimates that 400 million beacons will be deployed in the US by 2020. Retail marketers have already begun the serving of mobile coupons through these channels and CPG marketers are quickly catching up.
- Mobile Coupons – Mobile coupons come in different shapes and sizes, appearing as the offers to present to the cashier at the time of purchase as well as mobile apps that offer rebates post-purchase, like Ibotta or Checkout51. The market is seeing several iterations of the mobile coupon experience, as some retailers are investing in their own mobile apps, such as Target’s Cartwheel. Retailers have the advantage within this space as their point-of-sale (POS) systems can more easily accept mobile coupons and clear the offers developed in-house. Grocery retailers are slowly adopting mobile coupon offers with direct-to-card coupons, app-loyalty card integrations, and mobile POS scanners. Adoption has been slow due to the cost associated with upgrading POS systems and managing coupon clearing.
- Mobile Pay – With the increase in smart device usage has come the increase in mobile payment usage. Two systems dominate the space, Apple Pay and Android Pay, as these are baked into smartphone operating systems pre-shipment. Privacy and security concerns have stalled mass adoption, but as users become more comfortable with mobile wallets and smartphone security measures become more robust, adoption will increase. Separately, Walmart has developed a proprietary mobile pay system that has the potential to revolutionize mobile payments and couponing within Walmart stores.
Mobile is the final piece to the shopper marketing puzzle. Coupled with mass awareness efforts, influencing consumers when they are closest to purchasing can be the difference between profit and loss. The aforementioned retails Walmart and Target are already there, but grocery retailers have some catching up to do.