In the world of mobile Darwinism, brands have two choices – be seen or be forgotten

Mobile devices are disrupting customer journeys in more ways than ever before. Brands have new opportunities to either reach them or slip by completely unnoticed, writes Altimeter's Brian Solis

We live in an era of digital Darwinism as technology and society continue to evolve. Along the way, consumer behaviours, preferences and values also evolve.

Many businesses however aren’t keeping up with evolution and are missing critical opportunities to reach people in ways that are relevant, compelling and productive. One of the biggest threats and more so, opportunities for brands to thrive against this Darwinism is mobile customer experience. New research from Google shows that today’s customers aren’t just mobile, they’re empowered, demanding, impatient and elusive.

As a result mobile consumers are reshaping customer journeys and how they make decisions. The brands that benefit, understand mobile behaviours and are ready to provide useful content and real-time engagement.

Smartphone penetration is greater than desktop in all countries across the APAC region. As a result, mobile devices have forever changed how consumers communicate, discover and connect. In this climate, must not only mobilise current marketing and sales touchpoints, they must now also re-imagine the entire consumer path to purchase for a mobile-first and mobile-only world.

These new behaviours represent a challenge and an opportunity for brands to compete in micro-moments. In a recent study by Kantar TNS and Google, They Search, You Score: Why Search Matters More Than Ever in APAC, three telling – and promising – trends emerged. 

The consumer brain is a competitive space

Consumers typically start with a list of options for further research and consideration. When searching on mobile, consumers start with up to three brands. But as they search, they’re still open to other possible solutions. 

Their searches are becoming more and more specific and personalised. They’re not simply searching for products. For example, a baby care consumer might search ‘best nappies for sensitive skin’ or personal finance consumers might seek ‘credit cards with best rewards’. Either way, they’re seeking to become experts in discovering the products that are ideal for them.

Real-time is key

Search is one of the most consistent – and influential – sources for consumer insight throughout their purchase journey, while also complementing other online resources such as brand websites, blogss, comparison sites and retailer websites.

In APAC, consumers research via mobile before visiting stores and keep searching even when they’re in the aisle. Interestingly, mobile search often converts to offline sales over e-commerce. Turns out that even though they’re mobile, consumers prefer an in-store experience to make the final purchase, but they’re still researching online before they decide to visit. Once they’re in store, data shows that they’re still researching. Seven in ten buyers use their mobile devices to compare products and check reviews in-store.

Paths to purchase need to be mobilised

The research offered a glimpse into how customer journeys are taking shape in a mobile world. The good news is that mobile is introducing new ways to connect with consumers. In each market case, consumers conducted an average of six searches before buying. This means that brands have six opportunities to meaningfully engage or completely miss consumers.

Micro-moments necessitate that the marketing playbook focus on discoverability, empathy, speed and intelligence.

  • Be seen: You can’t be part of the path to purchase if you’re not discoverable.
  • Be smart: Use data to understand your audience, how they make decisions and their sources for information.
  •  Be fast:  Deliver the right message at the right time in the right place in the right moment.
  • Be accountable: Value the customer journey and connect the dots between what, where and how people are researching and their desired path to purchase.

To beat digital Darwinism and also win in micro-moments, starts with understanding the new mobile consumer.  Marketers must take cues from these new behaviours to ensure that they are discoverable in the right places at the right time, in ways that are conducive to mobile, real-time engagement. Otherwise, brands leave it to competitors to serve connected customers in the moments that matter to them.

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst research group at Prophet.


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