The Consumer Holds Your Brand In Their Hand

POSTED BY Ashley Arhart on Jan 11, 2012

The world’s gone mobile. To what extent will hand-held devices affect the future of your brand? Considerably. These devices are changing more than just the way we make calls – in the next 2-3 years they will usurp PCs to become the primary way we connect to the Internet. Already, 79% of phone owners use their device for shopping-related activities, 70% use the device in-store, and 74% make purchases as a result of using their smart phone (eMarketer, 2011).

The increasing ubiquity of personal technology devices and the proliferation of information are considered a plus by many consumers. The mobile media population grew 19% this past year to more than 116 million people as of August 2011. Lightspeed Research (2011) reports that 56 percent believe mobile makes the shopping experience more enjoyable. And more appear to be following that trend. Given that 67% of consumers planned to make a purchase via mobile in the 2011 holiday season (PayPal, 2011), it would appear that mobile commerce is here to stay.

Why is this important?

Mobile devices are obviously having a profound effect on shopping behavior – and on brands. They’re enabling consumers to feel more confident about purchases because they have access to data at all times and they are also helping consumers find better deals. It’s easy to understand the more tactical aspects of the trend. But the rise of small screens also means that brands will have to lead with bigger ideas.

Image source: Anthropolgie.com

Brands have always been a shortcut to decision making, but now, these devices and the ubiquitous access to data they offer are providing a different kind of shortcut. The currency of information is allowing consumers to hold brands to a higher standard, and it’s making their loyalty harder to simply buy with advertising dollars. We as consumers pay for and support brands we relate to; brands that embody the same values we want others to see in us. As our access to increasing amounts of information grows, the value of anything but the most authentic and iconic of brands will shrink.

Consumers expect more

Consumers still want quality, bargains, innovation, and, more than ever, they want to be entertained, but they expect more in each of these categories. They no longer need “me too” brands that offer cookie cutter products and services. Our experiences with social media and application-based software are teaching consumers to demand customization and personalization in our shopping experiences as well. NikeID has been allowing consumers to create their favorite sneaker for a decade, M&M lovers can now order personalized candies in their favorite color and Coke has introduced their Freestyle soda fountain. William Sonoma can still charge $32 for a cake pan. Even so, just because consumers have come to depend on the chain as a curator of the highest-quality, most stylish products, don’t think they aren’t price checking their pots and pans on Amazon before they purchase.

Image source: M&M Facebook page

Mobile is only part of the new arena in which brands need to compete. Phones, tablets, games, social networks are all part of an increasingly diverse and fragmented media landscape. Successful brands in the m-commerce age are those that can consistently and actively engage their consumers – whenever, wherever those consumers choose. As a result, a brand’s narrative will grow increasingly important. To reach this informed, multi-tasking, short-attention-span audience, that narrative will need to be more focused so that the storyline isn’t diluted when stretched across multiple points of expression. Being more focused will make brands more unassailable and allow them to make promises they can consistently fulfill.

Successful brands will leverage big ideas

What do we mean by big ideas? Ideas that are more powerful, more broadly and more deeply relevant to a brand’s consumers and more rooted in universal emotional truths. Ideas that are flexible enough to incorporate the smallest of details and creative enough to facilitate the most random of connections. Our work with Madison Square Garden demonstrates just what we mean by this type of big idea.

It was our challenge to change the way prospective suite holders and sponsors think about Madison Square Garden as part of a planned renovation. Our client wanted to create a customer-centric sales experience with interactive technologies that firmly established a highly aspirational vision of the future.

We created the idea of “Defining Moments.” Moments experienced inside The Garden stay with people forever, and these pivotal points collectively unite New York City unlike anything else. The idea inspired a sensory-filled brand aesthetic and visual language that could be woven into every touch point to create an interactive, immersive experience. Because the idea was so personal, we knew it would be immediately relevant to The Garden’s fans, sponsors and season ticketholders. And, because the idea was so focused and true, it grew to galvanize internal audiences, press, and fans of all kinds.


What does “Defining Moments” have to do with mobile?

Consumers really do hold your brand in the palm of their hand. And as they grow increasingly reliant on those devices it will be increasingly difficult to telegraph meaning. It’s vital that your brand promise can be conveyed in a pop-up notification on a smartphone as easily as it can in a full-page copy ad. Big ideas like “Defining Moments” will be the key to instantaneous recognition and relevance. Working with a partner like us, one who understands the need for game-changing ideas and the technology to leverage those ideas, will ensure your brand is earning the loyalty of tomorrow’s consumers by telling a story that will resonate in today’s mercurial media landscape.

Are you ready for the new reality?

WRITTEN BY Ashley Arhart

Add a comment


Feb 27, 2012 at 4:22pm

I agree with the author. I am much more likely to respond positively to a brand that appeals to my emotional side than I am to one that just tries to reach me at every touch point with no thought or consideration to how I may interact with that brand.

Feb 27, 2012 at 3:44pm

It'll be interesting to see how brands and their experiences will evolve in response to mobile media. Which will rise? Which will fall?


Feb 27, 2012 at 3:40pm

This post is spot on! I've been seeing the use of mobile/handheld devices more and more in retail settings, and definitely consider it to be the evolution of the consumer experience.