Mobile Trends

Brands must adapt to the mobile world

It is well understood that mobile phone use is now prolific, with two phones for every three people on the planet. This is up from one in ten a decade ago. The consumption of digital content through mobile devices is clearly and significantly on the rise.

By April 2011, 40.1% of phones in the UK were smart phones – optimised to use internet on the move. Increasing by 10% year on year, it is likely that smart phones will reach the majority of UK users by Q1 2012. And just over the last year, mobile internet use increased by 20%. But more crucially for global business, mobile payments are expected to reach $600billion by 2013.

This is a very young market and understanding of how to use it constructively is constantly evolving. The way brands are currently embracing mobile is well demonstrated in the chart below, showing an increasingly well trodden path to the adoption of mobile within a communications or marketing strategy.

In order to benefit from the rise of digital mobile consumption, we have to ensure that mobile properties are joined up with all other forms of communication. Integration takes on even more meaning as consumers increasingly make little distinction in the content they consume as they move across platforms and devices. Brands therefore must direct traffic to mobile properties and reformat and generate content specifically for consumption within that media.

Adapting content is critical as consumer behavior shifts as across platforms and smartphones become ubiquitous. One example of this shifting behavior is the average time from viewing a product online to purchasing that product is 30 days. It is just one hour on a mobile phone. Clearly mobile is a huge market for brands to capitalise on.

Not only is mobile shifting the landscape for brands targeting consumers around marketing and purchasing, but mobile is becoming an increasingly important platform for reputation management. Mobile internet allows any reputation guardian to have access to real time information no matter where they are. With advanced media monitoring tools, representatives of these brands can respond to any event, in real time, through tactical news post, Twitter or Facebook messaging.

Mobile becomes a powerful tool for brands to enhance their reputation but can become an equally strong tool to damage reputations. From spokespeople caught on video uploaded instantly to YouTube to rolling conversations on Twitter, brands must respond to a constantly-shifting environment.

The power this delivers to the individual and the part it plays in brand communication is increasing at an astonishing rate. To ignore this market would to be foolish; to jump on it you’ve got to be ready for a white knuckled ride. Be prepared to be bold and act on instinct rather than wait for precedent. Yesterday’s case studies are tomorrow’s dinosaurs.

There is much speculation as to how mobile will be used in the future. The hardware for truly astonishing systems is available today. The speed of smart phone uptake, and the network infrastructure to improve speed and access, as well as a better understanding of how to use these powerful devices will dictate their future.

Charlie Cadbury leads PutItOut, a London and Lahore-based digital production agency and Portland partner.