According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013, there are now 82.7 million active mobile contracts throughout the UK, with the percentage of households owning tablets doubling to 24% in the past year. The take-up of smartphones and other mobile devices has inevitably led to increased sales across the mobile platform, leaving marketers no choice but to rethink and in many cases reshape their mobile strategies ahead of competitive times like the holiday season. Retailers must innovate and embrace new technologies and take advantage of the tools available to reach potential shoppers in this crucial period, whether this involves creating an immersive advertising campaign or even releasing their own branded tablet.
Welcome to augmented reality
With the rise of the QR code comes AR advertising, which teases window-shopping consumers with a ‘try before you buy’ mobile experience. Retailers such as Miss Selfridge, Accessorize and Argos have all taken advantage of AR app Blippar, which allows users to enjoy an interactive experience by ‘blipping’ certain products with their cameras. This includes the chance to play games, explore products virtually by testing them or trying them on within the app, view behind-the-scenes footage from TV advertising campaigns, and share across social media, which in turn offers benefits for both sides of the equation. Giving customers the ability to collate their favourite things, as they might do on a Pinterest board for instance, adds another string to the bow of AR. With shopping guides enhanced by Blippar, consumers are encouraged to build wish lists of products that now spring to life in their hands. Retailers are also adding content beyond the traditional gift guide; for example, Argos offers the chance to have your photo taken with the lovable blue alien family.
New tablet releases
Whilst most retailers have been busy brainstorming with marketers over how to reach mobile audiences, others have gone one step further by releasing their own tablets. Supermarket giant Tesco recently released its first Android tablet, Hudl, for the competitive price of £119. The Hudl tablet comes pre-loaded with all of the store’s service apps, including Tesco Direct, putting the retailer in good stead with the consumer by creating a convenient shopping experience. Argos has released a slightly less expensive device, MyTablet, aimed at the ‘tweenie’ demographic. The move to place tablet devices in younger hands indicates that the retailer has thought hard about what the future may bring for mobile marketing, whilst also offering a cheaper alternative for those families without a tablet device. The managing director of Argos, John Walden, told TechRadar: “Millions of people have bought tablets during the last year but there is still around 75% of the UK population without one. We know that tablets will feature heavily on Christmas lists this year.”
The crest of the Christmas hill
The British Retail Consortium reported that online sales rose 17.8 per cent in December 2012, an increase largely attributed to the growing numbers of consumers using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases online. Coupled with this year’s growth in the number of consumers owning and using mobile devices, the trend looks set to continue for this holiday season. Marketers are warned to prepare for the busiest periods of mobile retail purchases made at Christmas. Victor Malachard, CEO and co-founder of advertising mobile platform Adfonic, told The Drum that the most popular times, coined the ‘Twin Peaks’, are the second weekend of December, ‘Mobile Sunday’, and Christmas Day itself; the past three years have indicated an increased CTR on these occasions (according to the platform’s data). He went on to explain that “joining the dots so that a campaign planned to hit Mobile Sunday could retarget users just before Christmas” is an essential consideration with any mobile marketing strategy, as retailers aim to up their game during this busy period. With UK consumers set to empty piggy banks to the chime of £10bn this year, according to a report by industry group IMRG and consultants Capgemini, the secret is in the mobile.
With over 15 years of experience in sales and marketing, Ben Padley has worked extensively in local and global marketing roles supporting the agenda of the Chief Marketing Officer. Previously, he was the Global Vice President at Sony Ericsson (now Sony Mobile) and Marketing Director for their UK and Ireland business. Most recently, Ben was Barclaycard’s first Global Digital Director.