The growing popularity of cell phones and other hand-held mobile devices has opened up new marketing possibilities.
Mobile marketing is the most personal medium available. People run their lives off of mobile. It’s business, it’s personal, it’s information gathering. It’s on 24/7. We call it the “brand in the hand.”
— Global Media Manager, Adidas International
First it was the Internet. Now, the convergence of the Web and wireless technology has begun to challenge many of the assumptions companies have about their marketing strategies. Indeed, the combination of the Internet and hand-held mobile devices is making possible a whole new array of marketing applications and offerings. This is what we refer to as “brand in the hand” —the potential for branding and marketing communications to be delivered to people in their hands while they are shopping, watching a sporting event, commuting, working or doing chores at home.
In the past, advertising and branding models were based primarily on 30-second commercials and magazine ads. Today, the growth of digital and mobile communications is changing so fast that consumers may soon find themselves interacting with brands in fundamentally different ways. For now, the target delivery medium for mobile marketing applications is cell phones, personal digital assistants and other hand-held devices. But scenarios such as the one in the film “Minority Report,” in which holographic point-of-purchase displays for the likes of Gap clothing engage passers-by by name, are not that far off in certain Asian and European markets.
Before companies rush into this new marketing arena, though, they need to understand some fundamental issues. For starters, in what ways does mobile marketing differ from traditional approaches? Moreover, when should a company pursue a brand-in-the-hand initiative — and when should it not? And how should firms integrate such a novel approach within their overall marketing strategies?
For many people, the cell phone, PDA or other hand-held device has become virtually a necessity of everyday life. (See “The Global Spread of Mobile Technology.”) In particular, young consumers, who tend to be technology-savvy multitaskers, have quickly adopted mobile devices to socialize, play online games and download content, including music, ring tones and wallpaper backgrounds. Within this market segment, cell phones have become a status symbol and a means for individuals to express themselves through customized face plates, ring tones, carrying cases and so on. In this sense, cell phones have become similar to clothing, jewelry and other external communicators of the self.