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Why it’s time for marketers to ditch the concept of the mobile consumer

Technology & Data

Why it’s time for marketers to ditch the concept of the mobile consumer


The pandemic has seen a dramatic shift in our relationship with our mobiles. During stay at home orders and endless social distancing requirements, our mobile phones became our lifeline to the outside world. Richard O’Sullivan thinks that it is time to ditch the divide between consumers and mobile consumers.

We now spend one-third of our waking hours on mobile. They’re how we socialise, shop and entertain ourselves. Mobile use has become so widespread since the pandemic that the distinction between ‘shopping’ and ‘online shopping’ has become blurred. During lockdown, where in-store browsing is banned and only essential goods are allowed to be purchased in-store, online shopping has become the norm. 

Certainly, Australia Post has been struggling to cope with the volume of orders, resulting in a temporary pause on collections. This is a continuation of a trend outlined in Australia Post’s eCommerce Industry Report 2021. The results revealed online shopping growth in 2020 topped 57 percent year-on-year. It took just over eight months of online shopping in 2020 to eclipse the full 12 months of 2019. 

Even as several Australian states cautiously make their way out of lockdown, the ease and simplicity of online shopping means it is set to continue beyond the holiday season. According to research published in InMobi’s 2021 Retail Holiday Shopping Playbook, 77 percent of Australians intend to use online means to meet their learning, exploring and buying needs this holiday season. Shoppers have shifted their budgets to meet this change, with 31 percent of respondents planning to increase their online shopping budgets this festive season.

Ditch the siloed approach


It’s against this backdrop that one thing has become startlingly clear: it’s time to ditch the artificial distinction that is often made between the ‘consumer’ and the ‘mobile consumer’. Our smartphones, already ubiquitous pre-pandemic, are used so commonly and so frequently that there’s no longer a distinction between us and our phones. 

In fact, nine out of ten Australians own a smartphone, with 94 percent taking their devices with them whenever they leave the house according to research from Deloitte.

By specifying between ‘a consumer’ and ‘a mobile consumer’, marketers risk falling into dated thinking that doesn’t relate in any way to how people live their lives. By looking at consumers through such a divided lens, a huge number of opportunities are being lost. 

Even though the ubiquity of smartphones might feel like something of an obvious statement, the truth is, many brands continue to act like the ‘consumer’ and ‘mobile consumer’ are two different things. 

Far too many marketing strategies are built with mobile as an afterthought, and any consideration of the mobile user experience is introduced way too late in the game. Long loading times, poor user experience, and a lack of mobile-first features are all issues that marketers continue to battle. Or even worse, simply ignore it.

Embrace the holistic approach


It’s vital that marketers use a holistic approach when building their mobile strategies. This should be informed by a strong understanding of how consumers are already using their mobiles. Then they should be taking steps to integrate with these habits in mind. 

One-click payments, deals for loyal customers, and seamless mobile payment integrations are all ways to make the mobile buying experience as straightforward as possible for your customer. Inmobi’s Retail Holiday Shopping Playbook research found that convenience (74 percent), free shipping (55 percent) and ease of payments and the range of products (51 percent) were the top three reasons cited by consumers for shopping on their mobile. 

Alongside a great mobile browser experience, mobile apps are a great way to develop a direct connection to your most loyal customers. Apps can contain a wide variety of features, from deals to discounts and information. App owners are more loyal than non-app owners, so it pays for marketers to encourage people to regularly use their mobile apps.

Among other considerations, marketers must offer consumers multiple ways to buy via mobile. While some may prefer to buy through the app, others may prefer to buy through popular e-commerce platforms and marketplaces. Some people may want items shipped directly to them, while others will want to make a purchase in-store including ‘buy online, pickup in-store’ and curbside pickup.

The shift towards a mobile and online-first way of shopping is showing no signs of slowing, even as Australia gradually makes its transition out of strict lockdown. In order to adapt, marketers must design their customer experiences without any distinction between the ‘consumer’ and ‘mobile consumer’, because in today’s world, they are one and the same. 

Richard O’Sullivan is the vice president and general manager, Inmobi, ANZ.


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