Young consumers have been notoriously difficult for advertisers to reach. Mobile marketing might provide the answer, but only if companies understand some basic principles.
Cell phones, personal digital assistants and other handheld devices have become daily necessities for many teenagers and young adults. That fact has not escaped the attention of companies that have had great difficulty reaching young consumers through traditional marketing approaches — TV and radio commercials, magazine ads, direct mail campaigns and so on. In theory, the mobile platform provides the perfect mechanism for reaching young consumers. A large retailer, for example, might send a group of teenagers at a shopping mall various electronic coupons on their phones to promote special discounts. In reality, though, the success of mobile marketing campaigns has been mixed, in part because many companies don’t understand what truly influences whether young consumers will accept having branding and marketing communications sent to them on their mobile devices. Will they, for instance, be enticed by receiving electronic coupons on their cell phones, or will they be annoyed?
To answer such questions, we recently conducted a study in the United States and Pakistan that investigated why some young consumers are willing to participate in mobile activities — accessing mobile content, registering for contests and permitting companies to deliver advertisements via their cell phones — while others aren’t. In particular, we looked at the relative importance of a number of factors, including consumers’ personal attachment to their cell phones, their concerns for privacy and their willingness to “opt in” and accept permission-based marketing. (See “About the Research.”)