American Marketer


Mobile provides thread through all brand activation points

August 3, 2012


Brian Cohen is director of digital shopper marketing at CatapultRPM
By Brian Cohen

When we talk about what makes digital activations so critical in today’s marketplace, we often discuss how it provides a thread between all activation points – the connectivity that makes a program truly integrated.

As mobile adoption continues to rise, it has become the ultimate point-of-connection, combining the pre-shop, shop and post-shop experiences, and often blurring the lines between them all.

Mobile integration
Over the last year, brands, retailers and agencies have all tried to determine how to best integrate a mobile strategy into their existing go-to-market approach.

However, this line of thinking means you have already started down the wrong path.

Mobile is not a test-and-learn area of investment, used to extend an existing marketing strategy. It is the glue that makes it all work together.

Retailers are beginning to understand the importance of mobile and are almost all leaning in, albeit in very different ways.

And, while many are doing one-off activities well, no one retailer seems to have cracked the connectivity code. Some use GPS location in-store, others use list building integration, and others mobile coupons.

Partnering with third-party platforms such as Aisle411, Shopkick and JingIt have been in vogue as well.

Many retailers are viewing these innovations as a means to more trade funding from their brand partners – a new communications vehicle they can use as leverage to squeeze out a few more nickels and dimes. And why not?

Brand partners are more than willing to pay up, as they do not want to be left out vis-à-vis their competition, and there is often some level of ROI from their investments.

However, as we think about the role that mobile is playing in the lives of individuals beyond their perspectives as consumers and shoppers, we start to understand that there is a bigger opportunity at hand.

All-time high
With smartphone penetration at nearly 55 percent as of June 2012, per Nielsen, and Gartner predicting that mobile Web traffic will surpass PC Web traffic by 2013, the time has come to realize that mobile is not simply another communication vehicle we can use to push out our messaging.

On the contrary, mobile is the centralized aggregator of an individual’s life, a portal to their social networks, and an outlet for media and entertainment experiences.

Mobile is their one go-to resource for information and, in most cases, self-organization. It is, in more ways than ever before, a handheld personal assistant. With this as our lens, we must alter our perspective on mobile within our marketing ecosystems.

From the retailer’s perspective, it is easy to see the potential benefits.

For example, aggregate deals so they are there at the ready, aid the development of shopping lists and marry personal shopper card history for ease of access.

Marketers must also understand what they need before they need it and tell them where to get it, so the chore of making a list and the act of shopping becomes simpler and easier.

Brands should learn what they pin on Pinterest and share on Facebook to tailor your message to them, not to the demographic target of which they happen to be a part.

Additionally, marketers should help with recipes based on the ingredients that they just bought and teach them how to prepare meals.

Retailers can adopt the same approach and play an integral role with the latest fashions, the newest books, and more.

While certain retailers are starting to understand this at the digital level – think CVS and Safeway – the real opportunity is to ensure that the optimal shopper experience is accessible through a mobile device.

And why is this all so critical? Let us face it, who knows you better than your phone? No one. No one else spends as much time by your side.

Brian Cohen is director of digital shopper marketing at CatapultRPM, Westport, CT. Reach him at