New rules for modern marketing: it's all about mobile

Three-quarters of China's internet browsing is done on mobile phones. Photograph: Ryan Pyle/Corbis

At the Cannes Lions festival of creativity this year, communications and marketing professionals heard that no company looking to build its market share can afford to ignore the phenomenon of mobilisation, particularly in fast developing economies such as China.

This shift to mobile forces us all to adopt new marketing strategies and a whole new way of thinking. Consumers have changed, and marketers need to adapt their approach to successfully reach them.

China has emerged as a rising star of the age of mobility, with the construction of a vast mobile network infrastructure and broad penetration of affordable smartphones. According to figures from the China internet network information centre, the number of Chinese people who access the internet through mobile phones has reached 420 million, representing 74.5% of all internet users in the country.

The increasing volume of mobile internet and shopping activity is changing how media and marketing campaigns are put together. Rather than individual activities, planners and marketers are looking at more cross-channel promotions, behavioural patterns in how consumers interact via mobile, the importance of timing and how to meet the demand for integrated strategy.

In this environment, I see that there are three Cs of mobile marketing: content, context, and channel. All of which must be considered in order to make those right decisions. Marketing messages must be tailored based on the user's needs; marketing has to work at a faster pace so it can respond to potential customers in real time; and mobile channels must be added to traditional marketing channels.

The growth of new social media channels, such as Twitter in the West and Weibo in China, has created a shift in the relationship between the mobile user and the brand manager. In effect, the brand manager has disappeared from the user experience and been replaced with peer-to-peer relationships. While brands can have a presence on social media channels, the most effective approaches to engaging with audiences will be through the right content strategy.

Content marketing to this audience must be sophisticated enough so that those running campaigns can determine users' needs and then tie them to their products at any given time. The theme of context refers to the marketers' need to create a consumer-centred marketing system that meets the demands of consumers in real time, wherever they are, while paying close attention to their feedback.

Finally, traditional marketing channels must be upgraded to include the mobile channel, where marketers need to determine how best to quickly grab the consumer's attention and move them to close the sale. In the mobile channel, the sales and marketing cycle is short; marketers must learn to make a big impact in a very short span of time and then move the consumer to take action.

In China, consumers have become sophisticated shoppers who are 'always on' thanks to the growth of the mobile ecosystem. Recent figures show that online shopping accounts for the biggest proportion of China's internet economy, growing to 52.7% in 2012 compared to 35.9% in 2010. Chinese consumers shop online through their mobile phones at home (53.3%), on their way to work or school (26.2%); and when taking public transportation or in queues (13.9% and 10.6% respectively).

Shoppers often depend on the product reviews of other web users, and have become savvy about finding the products that suit them best, and at the right price. Many shop online with electronic coupons, and scanning of QR codes quadrupled in 2013 compared with 2012.

China is creating a generation of increasingly savvy shoppers that display new, nonlinear shopping behaviour. This makes many traditional marketing channels obsolete and ineffective. Companies that hope to win greater market share in China need to understand how today's Chinese consumers behave online, what attracts them, what influences them and what motivates them to click the "buy" button or to seek more information.

source - guardian