(Reading time: approx. 4 minutes)
So there you are, stuck behind the wheel of your car after a long day at work. You look at your watch and it reads 7:30pm. It is dark, it is cold and it is raining. Traffic is just barely creeping along. Then up ahead, just above you, a beautiful glow starts to emerge out of the blackness. As you get closer, you try to make it out through the blur of the raindrops on your windscreen. Then it appears…a huge billboard for Crest Toothpaste. Immediately, you flash back to the morning and realize that you squeezed the very last drop of toothpaste out of the tube. Right after you bang your head on the steering wheel, you start to figure out how you can pull over to the pharmacy up ahead and have the privilege of completely overpaying for your product. You get out of the car and get slapped in the face by the cold. You drag yourself through the store to the hygiene aisle, turn and face a wall of toothpaste boxes.
BOOOOOM! That is the moment.
It is the exact moment that a consumer needs to make a decision on which box to pick up and purchase. This is the most important moment in the entire purchase process. The Crest billboard that was used to push people into stores was a portion of Procter & Gamble’s $5B+ marketing budget. Millions more were spent on packaging. Even more millions were spent on in-store placement. All of that is for naught though, if the consumer, once in the aisle, reaches for a tube of Colgate instead. In fact, in that situation, Procter & Gamble would have spent millions to send a customer to their competitors.
Every consumer faces dozens of these decisions every day. Walking by a window display for a clothing company? BOOOOOM! Sitting with friends at a restaurants enjoying a bottle of wine? BOOOOOM! The problem is that, historically, brands have had no way to engage the consumers at this critical moment. Mobile changes all of that.
Mobile enables businesses to craft a message that is tailored, engaging and two-way….right at the most important moment of purchase decision. This is amazingly powerful. It gives companies a voice where they didn’t have one before.
What companies say at this moment is absolutely critical. So, if you have the ability to whisper in the ear of the consumer at this exact moment, what would you say???
It usually comes down to three key areas:
I generally break product details into two different categories: direct information and value-added information. Direct information is simple and factual information. This would include items like sizes, colors, ingredients, allergy information, manufacturing process, company history and pictures.
Value-added information is product information that is not exactly a direct attribute of the product but something that enhances the direct information. This could include things such as where to find the product, recipes that go well with the product and how to best enjoy the product. For example, it could be information on the Bordeaux region to complement the wine you are drinking. It could be a list of local hiking trails when you seek information on an outdoor boot. It would be a video of the importance of electrolytes to your body when you are requesting information about a sport beverage. This is a simple way for brands to add more value to their product. This approach helps change the relationship between brands and the consumer. No longer just ‘pitchmen’, it turns brands into partners who help their consumers solve problems.
Social is playing an ever-increasing role in influencing consumer behavior. There are three main questions that social can answer during the purchase process: Which of my friends like this? What are other people saying about this product? How can I get involved in the conversation?
Facebook has done a great job in making friend information accessible through their Open Graph. Friend ‘likes’ have a major impact on purchase decision as there is a 4x increase in purchase intent if there is a recommendation from someone in your network.
Aggregating additional conversations on networks like Twitter help paint a contextual picture about the product. The benefit of ‘what others are saying’ is that you can validate and identify trends based on data from a larger audience. Promotions, recalls and events can all alter purchasing behaviour. Pulling in that information in real time helps create a more comprehensive view of the product.
Now, more than ever, people can have a relationship with brands. Getting involved in the social discussion fosters brand loyalty (or disloyalty) by personalizing the experience and allowing consumers to have a voice. In addition, it helps create the content for others as they look for information on ‘what others are saying’ (as discussed in the previous paragraph).
REAL WORLD TIE-INS
We need to stop thinking of mobile as a separate channel. One of the best description that I heard of mobile is that it is the ‘connective tissue’ between different channels. Companies spend so much time, energy and money on creating their brand. Their personality comes through the TV, print and online ads they produce, the events and organizations that they sponsor and the loyalty programs in which they participate. All of these components can play an integral part during that magic moment.
Imagine that you are Coca-Cola. Think about all of the great material that you can add to your message based on the things that you spent time, effort and money on to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Integrating your collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund demonstrates your commitment to the environment. Integrating your sponsorship of the Olympics demonstrates your commitment to the global community. Integrating information on your iCoke loyalty program demonstrates your commitment to your consumers. Integrating images of key advertisements over the last 125 years demonstrates your commitment to heritage. And so on and so on. All of these points could be important factors that sway a consumer to reach for the case of coke over the case of the house brand cola.
So what is the best way to present this data? Does Social Engagement have a greater impact on the decision or do the Product Details? We debate this all the time at Hubba. Many believe that the influence of friends is the most important factor. Others argue that you wouldn’t even care if your friends like it if the Product Details automatically disqualify the product because you are allergic to it. At the end of the day, the answer is that it is different for everybody. It is for this reason that brands, retailers and others need the proper technology to manage these messages, tailor them to the individual consumer and deliver it to them right at that moment.
How important is this moment? We built an entire company based on this 10 second interaction.