How Brands can Create a Better Service through Mobile

It seems obvious, but as an ‘always there, always on’ channel, mobile gives brands the opportunity to give their customers a better, more frictionless service. Mary Meeker has highlighted the media shift from traditional channels to mobile and tablet devices. Google has shown that mobile is used at every stage of the consumer journey, and 80% of users are doing that in conjunction with other media. For example, their recent in-store study found that customers often use their smartphones as an assistant to check information whilst they are in-store.

Mobile service may seem obvious, yet many brands fail to do it. An IAB study found that only 63% of the top 100 brands have a mobile optimised website. Even where there are mobile sites, there is a limited mobile experience. A recent DMA study highlighted an often over-looked area for brand service. Making a phone call! Simple services such as click-to-call buttons or scheduled call-backs were top of the consumer priority list.

In spite of this, some brands have understood the need to create a mobile-optimised experience across their whole service – from Marks and Spencer to Nike to Starbucks. The following Slideshare shows the issue and how brands can gain some quick wins from a simple, yet optimised mobile service:

The Mobile Campaign that’s Anti-Mobile

Besides bringing great benefits, smartphones are also a scourge. Look in any bar and see how many groups of ‘friends’ are stuck on their phones, ignoring each other and not speaking. One of the most useful things that brands can do (especially leisure brands) is to give users a break from their devices. Here’s a concept to make people put away their phones and talk to each other, the Offline Glass.  The glass has a section taken out at the bottom. It will only stand up if a phone is propping up the glass. Clever.

How Kenneth Cole is Changing Fashion through Mobile and Social Media

‘During the @kennethcole runway show, out of respect for other members of the audience please make sure your phones and tablets are switched ON. This show will embrace the intrusive nature of social media.’

It wasn’t long ago that fashion shows were largely private affairs, where photography and video were tightly managed. Yet  the opening words above, greeted the audience to Kenneth Cole’s 2013 New York Fashion Week show.

The advent of smartphones, with high megapixel cameras and social media apps has challenged the highly controlled world of fashion shows. That challenge is similar to many retailers, where consumers are able to search, photograph and share products instantly. Whilst most runway shows barely tolerate smartphones, Kenneth Cole clearly embraces it. His front row was littered with fashion bloggers all using their smartphones to Tweet, Instagram and Vine (if that is now a verb) the event. He went a step further though, and at the end of the show the models came down the catwalk sending live Tweets from their phones. It was in the name of charity, as each Tweet sent resulted in a $1 donation from Kenneth Cole to an Aids charity.

By embracing smartphone driven social media in this way, Kenneth Cole has shown how brands can:

–       Use mobile social media to connect brands from the physical world to online channels

–       Bring amplification through sharing these events in social media

–       Create a long-tail of brand awareness through user generated content or co-creation

I previously blogged about how mobile social media were disrupting fashion and retail, but Kenneth Cole’s show takes it much further than that. Whilst it creates an opportunity to reach a global audience previously unavailable, Kenneth Cole is using mobile and social to challenge the traditional dynamic of fashion. With fashion bloggers using the new tools of the trade, it brings immediacy to a global audience. With models Tweeting down the catwalk, they are no longer simply ‘hangers’ for the clothes but now active participants in the event. And with celebrities populating the front rows, alongside the journalist and bloggers, are mobile and social creating a new form of reality fashion show?

Aviva insurance use mobile app to offer reduced premiums to good drivers

Aviva has created a new ‘behavioural driving’ app, called Aviva Drive, for UK motoring insurance. The app is available for Android in Google Play. Drivers install the app and use it for 200 miles  of driving. Using the GPS and accelerometer, it assesses their driving and discounts up to 20% of the price of their next insurance, based on the results.

Motoring insurers have been looking at in-car telematics for a while, and some have considered linking this to insurance premiums. However the Aviva app not about delivering this kind of service. It is much more about creating brand engagement and new customers, rather than monitoring drivers’ behaviour. Aviva have taken a sensible test and learn approach to the app. It was first released in beta in the autumn, and besides ensuring the success of the functionality, they added a couple of additional features for the full release. These include hints and tips on better driving as well as a bit of gamifaction in the form of score sharing and social media integration.

The strength of this app in terms of the Aviva brand is that it is being used to acquire new customers by rewarding good driving, rather than punishing those who are less careful. Interestingly though, in the test version fewer women downloaded the app than men. Although Android has more male users in the UK, the disparity seemed to be greater than handset ownership. This could present an opportunity to address the change in the EU insistence on equal premiums for women. A spokesman for Aviva said: ‘We would call on safer women drivers to try out the Aviva Drive app as we believe it could reduce their premiums which would be helpful, particularly with the EU Gender Directive coming in to force next month.’

It remains to be seen if the app users want to engage with an insurance brand by winning badges and points. There are certainly further opportunities though. Once engaged with the brand through this app, Aviva could continue that experience through mobile, post purchase. With additional functionality has the potential to become a brand platform or service app beyond the initial insurance quote. The app can be downloaded here.

Two Reasons Why Baumgartner’s Jump was Significant for Brands

Felix Baumgartner’s jump for the Red Bull Stratos project created a number of records. Besides the significance of the feat, it was also important for brands for two reasons:

Firstly, it was not broadcast through television, but on YouTube (gaining nearly 8 million live viewers). Whilst there have been live events on the internet for a number of years, nothing of this nature has ever been broadcast in this way. We are moving away from traditional TV formats, to internet-based viewing on a range of devices – from TV sets, to tablets to mobile phones. Could the jump mark the start of a new way of broadcasting?

Secondly, the jump was not orchestrated by an agency, such as NASA or a private adventurer with brand sponsorship. Adventurous though it was Baumgartner’s feat was about creating brand content for Red Bull. Ironically it also created plenty of data for NASA to sift through. For many brands, the future of engagement is around content. Red Bull have been doing it successfully for some years and the jump was the pinacle of this approach.

There’s more here on Forbes Magazine

Not to be outdone, Nestle sent a KitKat into space the following day. Whilst it only attracted 33,000 views, a fraction of the Red Bull visits, the budget was considerably less. A nice piece of guerrilla marketing.

Mobile Connects Fashion (and distrupts retail)

As one of the more forward thinking sectors, it’s no surprise that the fashion industry has generally embraced the mobile channel.

Early apps from the luxury brands were disappointing, but companies such as Nike (if we are allowed to call them a fashion brand) have created some excellent mobile campaigns. And it’s not just apps either; Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo have both experimented with Foursquare, Diesel ran a ‘scan to like of Facebook’ QR code and Louis Vuitton created their own designer QR code.

Mobile has become important to all brands, but especially those in retail. We are seeing an increasingly ‘smart’ world. One where consumers can shop, share and compare anywhere they are. We have seen the rise of new behaviours, such as ‘showrooming’ which is distrupting the traditional retail and ecommerce spaces which fashion brands inhabit. We are also seeing a consumer shift away from print media, the traditional home to many fashion brands, to mobile channels. However, the US analyst, Mary Meeker has shown that there has not been a corresponding shift in brand spending. Whilst many fashion brands have created some great engagement through social media, few have been able to do the same in mobile. Who is doing mobile well, and what are the trends for the future?

New Content Platforms

Content, particularly in print format, has always been important for fashion brands. However with the consumer move from print media, brands need to develop new forms of content for the emerging platforms of mobile and tablet devices.

ASOS is a great example of how a fashion retailer is addressing this. Fashion Up is a magazine app for iPhone and iPad. Rather than creating new apps, Fashion Up acts as a platform app to deliver new updated content, offers or even push alerts. The brand has always produced good content through their printed magazine, but distribution outside the UK was always a problem. Fashion Up has allowed ASOS to reach new audiences in the Europe and US with little marketing spend. The next development will be their ‘Daily Edit’ of editors’ picks, which will only be available on mobile devices.

The Rise of The New

Another behavior change with our smart, connected devices has seen consumers become creators, commentators and journalists. You only have to look at the Arab Spring, to see how camera phones combined with Twitter and YouTube shifted the reporting of events away from the major media channels.

To some extent, the same is true for the world of fashion. Just search Instagram for tags such as #streetfashion or #style and see the results. There are also a growing number of apps and channels specifically for the fashion consumer. is a good example of the trend away from print to  SoMoLo (social, mobile, location) channels. Think of as ‘Instagram for Street Fashion’. It brings immediacy, choice and sharing outside of the traditional media channels.

Many fashion brands are successfully using Instagram in their social media campaigns. It’s hard to mention the channel though, without including Burberry (if you want to see another luxury brand using the channel well, then take a look at Tiffany). When it comes to the luxury sector, the brand pretty much owns the social media world, and it is no different with Instagram. The company has been delivering shots from the catwalks and fashion shoots for a few years and gained nearly ½ million followers.

Brands and Consumers: Co-Creation

Fashion brands need to think beyond mobile as simply a one way content platform. The shift away from old media towards user generated rich content means that brands need to create a conversation with their consumers. Co-creation is one of the best methods of achieving that. Top Shop (who do social well, but mobile not so well), used Instagram for a summer 2011 campaign called ‘Wish You Were at Topshop’. Store visitors were offered a free summer makeover. There was an iPad on hand so customers could take photos through Instagram and share them. At that time, Instagram was pretty niche, but by using it in-store with the iPad it became an accessible creation tool. Users shared over 2000 photos. A pretty good result, but the real impact was that they were posted on the Topshop Facebook page. There were 2,500 comments and over 5 million page views (and a 25k increase in online visitors).

As Instagram grows in popularity it is bringing new co-creation opportunities for fashion brands. Currently, Foot Locker are running their #kickstagram campaign, collecting a range of images from their users. If Ford’s #fiestagram is anything to go by, then Instagram is the on-trend channel for co-creation. The motor manufacturer had over 60,000 entries during their 6-week campaign. They extended the entries into the physical world with an exhibition of winning photos, and live updates on digital billboards.

Shops Won’t Be Shops

Over 28% of smartphone users have purchased clothes on their device … whilst they are in a competitors store (Google Think Insight, 2012). This presents a major challenge for the retail sector. And an opportunity. With so many consumers using smartphones, the retail experience can be almost anywhere. Tesco’s Homeplus campaign in Korea kicked began a trend of this new style of shopping.

A couple of interesting examples form the world of fashion retail demonstrates the possibilities. The online fashion retailer, Net-A-Porter created their ‘Window Shop’ campaign. They put posters in store windows in New York and London. When scanned, each item came alive with videos of models walking down the catwalk. Customers could then tap through and purchase the clothes. Although it was just one night only, the campaign received 2500 scans on the night, and considerable PR value.

Tesco’s fashion brand F&F opened a pop-up store in London during the Jubilee celebrations. They took the unusual step of having no tills. Instead customers could purchase by scanning the QR code on the clothing tags or using iPads supplied in-store. By taking shop staff out from behind the tills, it created a more customer focused-friendly experience. Urban Outfitters have now taken a similar step into to remove the tills from their stores, and arming their staff with iPads to take payments (in much the same way as an Apple store).

Mobile Connects Devices

The next iteration of the digital channel will be to connect to the devices around us. From TVs to cars to washing machines, many products will have apps which will be managed through smartphones. For the fashion sector, this may take the form of wearable technology. I say ‘may’ because wearable technologies general fail on the fashion front, making the wearer look somewhat ridiculous. Perhaps accessories are the answer, as Nike’s Fuel wristband has shown. Google also think’s the future is in wearable technologies, namely their Glass project. These glasses project and augmented reality environment to the wearer, powered by an Android smartphone. Google aren’t the only ones creating these types of glasses, but theirs are the most high profile. Some commentators have said that they would only be interested in wearing them when they are designed by Ray Bans.

It looks like the fashion world is accepting wearable technologies though. At Diane von Furstenberg’s New York and London Fashion Week shows, all the models came down the catwalk wearing Google’s Glass(es).

You can see this article in presentation form here, on Slideshare

Meat Pack shoe store uses gamification and a bit of hijacking

The Guatemalan shoe store, Meat Pack have created a (with their agency Saatchi and Saatchi) clever app to drive footfall (no pun intended). The concept was delivered as an update to their existing and well-used app. Using GPS it would send an alert when the user was near a trainer brand store. The alert would offer a timed discount, starting at 99% off and slowing ticking down until the customer raced to the Meat Pack store . The campaign saw over 600 people ‘hijacked’ from brand stores and the fastest to get there managed to receive an 89% discount.