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Nielsen exec: 2015 forecast requires heavier brand investment into mobile


Please click here to access an archived audio recording of the webinar.

Executives from The Nielsen Company and Mobile Majority predicted that mobile is on the upswing for 2015, and that brands that decline to invest heavily in mobile and social are bound to get surpassed by competitors.

During the “Mobile Commerce Outlook 2015: Up, Down or Flat?” webinar, senior vice president of advertiser solutions for the Chicago-based Nielsen Company, Paul Kultgen, discussed examples of top brands such as Starbucks and Apple’s success in the mobile sector and highlighted the importance of brands being accessible to all consumers via mobile devices.

“Mobile is becoming the medium of choice for how consumers want to interact with their brands of choice and how they want to shop,” Mr. Kultgen said. “The whole phenomenon of Black Friday and how it was turned into a week-long event is a great case study, and mobile is central to that.

“With mobile, people could check in whenever they wanted to. Mobile was changing the whole event and transforming it. Consumers are looking at shopping now as an activity they can do anytime and anywhere.”

Game changing brands
Panelist Dirk Rients, vice president of brand solutions at Los Angeles-based Mobile Majority, stressed the need for brands to come up with innovative ways of leveraging payments and loyalty to compete with conglomerates such as Starbucks and Target next year. Starbucks is currently piloting mobile ordering in Portland, with plans to roll out the service nationally in 2015, which will lend even more support and interest to the beverage brand’s already-strong mobile strategy.

“There’s a lot of demand for providing value on mobile channel,” Mr. Rients said. “For retailers, there’s some new innovation around in-store mapping. Target is another brand that’s rolling this out.”

He also named mobile payments with tie-in loyalty programs as a mobile strategy to look out for in 2015.

“Apple has the advantage of having 800-plus million credit cards on file,” he said. “The only thing they’re missing is the loyalty piece, but I guarantee with Passbook, they are working on that right now. Loyalty is tied to the payment piece.”

Mr. Rients also tapped Apple as the brand to watch in the upcoming year.

“The combination of iBeacon, TouchID, Apple Pay and iAd can be a breakout,” he said. “I think the combination of all of those will be the breakout of 2015. We’ve already seen some numbers that Apple has released in regards to Apple Pay, and there’s been talk of Apple incorporating Pay into iAd. That could be a game changer.”

Advice for retailers
The executives advised retailers to recreate the in-store experience on mobile, but differentiate mobile application features from those found on mobile Web sites. Mr. Kultgen discussed Unilever’s personal care brand Dove as a prime example of leveraging this tactic.

To promote its men care line in Israel, Dove set up virtual stores on ad kiosks with QR codes. Although the brand is not carried in Israel, it entered the market via virtual stores and allowed consumers to purchase the products despite the lack of distribution.

While showrooming was not discussed as frequently this year as previous predictions stated, retailers should still be aware of tactics undertaken by large brands such as Walmart and Amazon to stay competitive.

“Essentially, you’ve got a computer in your pocket that allows you to research products that you’re looking for,” Mr. Rients said. “Retailers have changed their strategy where they’re matching prices from competitors ,so that’s probably why we haven’t heard as much about showrooming this year, but it’s still clearly happening.

“It’s saving consumers time and providing them some value. Taco Bell has a product in its app where it’s one dollar in the app and in-store, it’s two or three dollars. It gives a discount for downloading the app.”

The key to creating lasting customer relationships is to be present at all stages of purchase or engagement on mobile.

“For mobile, marketers have to be there when consumers want to think and act,” Mr. Kultgen said. “People now want to be able to research and see what’s out there and want to purchase immediately.”

Lessons learned
The issues of privacy and security are paramount to consumers, and are expected to be hot topics come 2015. After several brands including Sony suffered hacking attacks this year, customers are more wary about submitting personal data via mobile devices unless it provides real value to them.

It is also imperative for brands to ensure that they are hiring talent trained in mobile strategy and that they are allocating sufficient time and funds to the mobile sector, rather than waiting for competitors to bypass them with innovative tactics.

“Roughly 30 percent of CMOs view mobile as a campaign and not a strategy,” Mr. Rients said. “That was eye opening to me because a small percentage of CMOs are basically using mobile on a campaign-by-campaign basis and do not have a formalized mobile strategy.

“A lot of these brands are comfortable with what they’ve been doing previously, like running TV spots. I’m hoping that a lot of these brands will wake up and that we’ll continue to see growth and more resources and investment into mobile.”

Looking ahead
Next year is bound to be a huge year for mobile, with top brands such as Walmart, Starbucks, Target and Unilever leading the pack with mobile-first strategies. Both executives predicted that SMS campaigns are of the past, paving the way for iBeacons, mobile payments and loyalty programs to establish strong stakes in the mcommerce market.

“Look at how mobile can create loyalty,” Mr. Kultgen said. “That’s what Starbucks has done really well. I expect Apple Pay to open up that capability. A way to connect commerce to loyalty is where I’d put my efforts for 2015.”

“Mobile needs to be put at the forefront,” Mr. Rients said. “Treat it as a strategy, not as a campaign. We all know it’s growing and will continue to grow, so now is the time to do something.

“Brands that are shifting more investment from traditional media channels to mobile are seeing success. Don’t wait around because you’ll get passed up. This is the way consumers are accessing content and the Internet.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York