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Five lessons from Unilever & Vserv.mobi on mobile mktg

Over the years, many theories have been presented around how mobile should form an intrinsic part of a holistic marketing exercise. Some of the largest advertisers have spoken on the importance of mobile but very few have invested in exploring the medium as a marketing tool to connect with a mass audience. One of the few corporates that have tested the use of mobile is Unilever. For Unilever, the challenge is to be able to gauge how to maximise the importance of mobile, which is the most widespread connected device across various consumer strata.

While the conversation has already moved beyond why we need to use mobile to how should we use it, as an industry, we tend to complicate matters. This is not completely different from what we saw in the initial days of digital media but there are some lessons to be learnt from that,” explained Chiradeep Gupta, Manager, Global Media, Unilever. Elaborating further on this view, he advised that the first starting point should be to change the approach of how mobile should become an integral part of marketing. “Remove the ‘integrate mobile’ mindset and thinking, because it implies an element of disintegration to begin with. The task at hand is to simplify the process so we can make mobile work harder for our brands,” he said.

Agreeing with Mr Gupta, Vikas Gulati, VP, Southeast Asia, Vserv.mobi – one of the companies that Unilever partners with for the mobile component of its marketing strategy – pointed out that the consumer mobile adoption stories have only become more fascinating. “Mobile is at the forefront of transforming the marketing and communication industry. There are markets that have more smartphones than feature phones. We are seeing tablets cannibalising PCs. Research shows that people use smartphone more than they say they do; it has become an inherent device for functional utilities. Since mobile has become an extension of one’s self, the net result we have is a captive audience,” commented Mr Gulati.

For Vserv.mobi, that is investing time in education around the ‘mobizen’ world, the limitation comes when an advertiser constraints mobile to a display medium. “Consumers who have made mobile as the screen of choice have essentially taken a conscious call to consume more content on their mobile devices. It is up to marketers now to leverage this more effectively. Since consumers use mobile for different functions, looking at it as a display platform is unwise. The classic case is to learn from the way TV or print or radio is leveraging mobile,” said Mr Gulati.

If consumer behaviour such as second screening, SMS voting or real time response to Live TV, adoption of QR codes and so on is observed, it is clear that mobile has become a focal point, where all other media are trying to ride on it.

Unilever brands have created various examples which have thrown up key learnings that marketing professionals can apply to mobile. Axe, Magnum, Sunsilk to name a few, are case studies, where initiatives in markets such as Southeast Asia have shown mobile deliver encouraging results for the brand.

Five lessons from mobile’s biggest bidders
#1 Creative and content is critical
“People don’t see it as different devices – for them, it is and it should be one seamless experience. More often than not, we end up taking the creative and content piece for granted. There is a tendency to focus on targeting and getting all the other variables in place. You can do all of that but if you don’t get the content in place, nothing else will pay off,” stated Mr Gupta.

#2 Define the role of mobile
“Articulating the role that mobile is going to play in the overall marketing exercise, and hence what should be expected from it, is crucial to make the mobile piece support the other activities and deliver in its own right,” explained Mr Gulati.

#3 Set success and process to track
At the outset of a marketing activity, the parameters that the various components, including mobile, should achieve, brings a rationale to gauging how the medium is delivered in tangible, measurable ways that will resonate with the marketer and encourage to up future spends.

#4 Leverage functionalities and platforms
Mobile comes with various functionalities, avenues to connect, innovate and experiment the manner in which brands can connect with the consumer in various stages of a campaign. A campaign that uses mobile must acknowledge, identify and then exploit all that the medium can offer.

#5 Think consumer journey
The role that mobile can play along the campaign must be parallel to the role of the consumer journey in the activity to be able to leverage the medium for the right context and messaging at the right time.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.
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