Mobile marketing to millennials

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download


  • 88 YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005 World Advertising Research Center 2005


    OF LATE,THERES been a lot of discus-sion about automobile accidents causedby drivers using cell phones. Despite theadmitted importance of the issue, Im ready tomove on to the debate about text messagingbehind the wheel.

    If theres a college-aged youth with a mobilephone in your family, chances are he or she hasdone it. Its not necessarily because theyre irre-sponsible. After all, when was the last time youcommitted the sin of driving while dialling?

    Young consumers have an intimate relation-ship with their mobile phones. Besides thepersonal computer, mobile phones are the mostimportant piece of technology they own.

    Eyebrows were raised when Microsoftfounder Bill Gates proclaimed recently that theiPod will eventually be vanquished by the ever-expanding capabilities of mobile phones. Hemay be right because my Treo 650 already holds300 songs and three feature-length movies withroom to spare.

    Personal anecdotes aside, a 2005 study con-ducted at Ball State University in Indianarevealed that the mobile phone is a de facto enti-tlement for students entering college.The study,conducted among 1,171 college studentsnationwide, showed that 97% owned mobilephones and more than two-thirds had sent textmessages on their phones.

    Undoubtedly, most of them were first intro-duced to text-type messaging on the personalcomputer. But instant messaging of all types

    has become so ingrained in millennial culturethat half the students in the study said thatinstant messaging was their top choice in communicating.

    R U n2 IM?

    If youre over the age of 90 or youve been living in a cave, youve probably not heardabout instant messaging, or IM. IM is a chattechnology that allows rapid text communica-tion between two people. Today, IM comes ina variety of flavours: AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo!,MSN, ICQ, and so forth. Of course, now youcan IM from your phone and even your PDA.For millennials, the IM experience has become device agnostic: your friend IMs youwhile doing homework on her computer, andyou reply from your phone while skippingclass.

    So in consideration of all this, why is themobile phone so important to millennials? In aword: mobility.

    Marketers have long known the challenge ofreaching consumers between the ages of 18and 22. Their lives are in transition. Some arein the workforce while others are in school some are in both. Some live at school for ninemonths and spend three months with mum anddad; others live at home year-round.Regardless, they are reaching out on their ownfor the first time, while keeping some connec-tions with home. These dynamic variables

    Mitch McCasland, Brand Inquiry, looks at mobile phone technology in the US, andshows how this new technology can be utilised in marketing to millennialconsumers

    Mobile marketing tomillennials

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 8

  • YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005 99


    create challenges for marketers who wish toconnect with them.

    Of course, such challenges never stopped aspammer.The Ball State study revealed that onein four students had received an advertisementon their phones. Ninety-two per cent of the stu-dents found unsolicited ads messages to beannoying and two-thirds said that they were lesslikely to buy a product from a business sendinginstant messages to their mobile phones.

    Herald the age of spam over IM knownhenceforth as spim.While spam is the bane ofemail readers the world over, spim adds anadditional dimension of disdain as mobilephone subscribers must often pay for suchmessages.

    Young consumers do not hate advertising,contrary to the widely held belief they dislikeadvertising that is irrelevant or unwanted.This isparticularly true in an interactive medium forwhich the consumer pays a fee, such as monthlyinternet access or a mobile phone account.Therefore, permission is a vital element in con-necting with millennials in an interactivemedium.

    Permission and podcasting

    Interactive communication via opt-in hasspawned a new content type for handhelddevices. Borrowing its name from Apples pop-ular MP3 player, podcasting is a process inwhich recorded audio content is posted to awebsite for a user to opt-in for download to anMP3-capable device. Podcasts can consist ofanything from sports to political discussions topoetry readings. Websites such as podcast.netprovide a directory of topics available for thechoosing. With the proliferation of cell phonesthat are both MP3-capable and internet con-nected, theres more to do on your mobilehandset than just talking or text messaging.

    Mobile phones can do more than just listen;they can also create. The digital video andsound-recording capabilities of mobile phones

    can be used to create near real-time content.Known as mobcasting, it is a term often associ-ated with political action or civic engagements.It is seen as a means by which under-repre-sented issues can be brought to a largeraudience, circumventing the need or approvalof the mass-media news complex. Mobcastersupload their content directly from their phonesto the internet where it awaits downloading bylisteners.

    Ludicrous, you say? Would a young personreally take the time to do that? Most likely, yes. Irecall a few years ago when a colleague ques-tioned, Why would anyone want to build awebsite for themselves? Today, thousands ofbloggers stand ready to answer that question.

    Convergence emergence

    Mobile phones have become the focal point oftechnology conversion. As their capabilitiesexpand, their importance to young consumerswill continue to increase, likely surpassing thepersonal computer as the most important singlepiece of technology in young consumers lives. Asampling of the innovations taking place in thenear future includes the following.

    A Motorola RAZR mobile phone part of a new generation of technology with an emphasis on design.

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 9

  • 1100 YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005


    Super-megapixel camera phones

    LG Electronics has announced the develop-ment of a five-megapixel camera phone. Part ofits Smart Shot line, the LG C960 includes anMP3 player and features a memory slot for amini secure device (SD) card. With currentcapacities of up to one gigabyte, the mini SDcard can hold hundreds of high-resolutionimages, MP3s or any combination of the two.The photos of your friends keg stand at lastFridays mixer will now look clearer when youpost it on

    Television on demand

    If you are in range of a mobile phone signal, youwill soon have hundreds of video choices onyour phone. Currently, companies offering theseservices include MobiTV on the Sprint networkand V Cast on Verizon. For now, mobile TV-on-demand consists of news features,entertainment clips, music videos and weather-casts. Admittedly, the viewing experience can bea bit pixilated and can stagger as it waits for thevideo stream to catch up. However, as wirelessnetworks in the US move closer to third-genera-tion mobile standards, greater bandwidth willallow for better performance, longer videos andenhanced clarity.Yet another good reason to takea study break.

    Purseless payments

    Radio frequency identification (RFID) isbeing incorporated into mobile handsets as ameans of cashless and cardless payments.Already available in Japan, an RFID reader isconnected to the retailers cash register. Itdetects the RFID chip in your phone andrequests that your personal identificationnumber (PIN) be entered into a keypad. In atechnology recently announced by LGElectronics, a biometric fingerprint reader hasbeen incorporated into one of its mobilephones, thereby eliminating the need for enter-ing a PIN and increasing the security of RFIDtransactions. With no need for cash, credit

    cards or debit cards, is the wallet on the endan-gered species list?

    Recognition technologies

    Can you imagine phones that can scan, captureand visually analyse everything from businesscards to documents? Think about being able totake someones business card and immediatelycapture it into your phone. Or, being able totake a letter-sized document and capture itwith your handset. Thanks to work by compa-nies such as Xerox, these mobile phonecapabilities are available today on selectedhandsets. How will millennials use it? Perhapssome academically challenged college studentswill finally have the perfect tool when theycatch a glimpse of next weeks exam on theirprofessors desk.

    As the capabilities of mobile phones expand, their importance to young consumers will continue to increase.

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 10

  • YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005 1111


    Mobile teleconferencing

    Your phone may soon provide a live video feedbetween callers. And with the potential for twoor more people in full conference mode, thosebad hair days will have higher stakes than ever.

    Consumer insights and strategy

    Thats enough about the avalanche of technol-ogy what does it all mean in terms ofmarketing to millennials? Convergence meansthat the phone will become of increasingimportance in their lives. Despite the intriguingtechnology, however, there are some basictenets in creating effective marketing for youngconsumers.

    Develop case-specific insights

    An investment in custom research can make areal difference for your brand. Sometimes mar-keting executives will try to save time andmoney by purchasing a published researchstudy or by adapting a business case from anunrelated industry. But its like the differencebetween buying a suit off the rack or one thatstailor-made. Custom research takes into consid-eration all of the variables facing your brand inthe marketplace. Moreover, custom research isproprietary, exclusive and confidential to yourcompany.When you buy a research study off theshelf, who knows how many of your competitorshave also read it?

    Target mindsets

    Effective marketing starts with understandingyour audience. What do they believe? What doyou want them to believe? Why should theybelieve it? Whats the single idea that will havean impact upon their mindset? Asking con-sumers some straightforward questions mayget part of the answer. But getting to deeperinsights and motivations requires a skilled con-sumer researcher who will often use projectiveexercises with consumers. For example, con-sumers will be asked to make a collage,

    interpret a picture or tell a story to reveal theirunderlying feelings about a brand.

    Do something ownable

    Some marketing executives are comfortablewith the familiar. Marketing strategies thathave previously been used are assumed to havea predictable outcome when used again. Irecall one vice president who insisted on pur-suing a well-worn programme that twocompetitors had abandoned after years ofwringing out the last ounce of strategic merit.Such me too marketing does little to buildownable value for a brand. Instead, the appli-cation of case-specific insights and knowledgeof the consumers mindset should be used todevelop new and innovative ways of making aconnection with consumers. If a new cam-paign or marketing programme seems toorisky, take the time to evaluate the conceptwith members of the target audience.They canshow you how best to implement your plansfor optimal success.

    If not now, when?

    The Doritos brand is in the highly competitivecategory of salted snacks. Earlier this year, itlaunched an innovative campaign that workedacross the boundaries of traditional and inter-active media. The brand targeted millennialswith mobile phones to promote the launch of a new flavour line while fostering consumerloyalty.

    With the proliferation ofcell phones that are bothMP3-capable and internetconnected, theres more todo on your mobile handsetthan just talking or textmessaging

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 11


    I first encountered the campaign as I wasdriving down the road. I noticed a billboard thatread, innw? Text 46691 to find out more.

    I did so and received the following text mes-sage in return, Doritos: what does innw?mean? U culd win cul stuf frm Doritos, inclipods, Digi Cams, DVDs + mor! Rply w/ ur bestguess what it means now. I responded with, Ifnot now, when?

    My phone beeped as I received, Doritos:nice! Go2, entr code: HIPER inENTER CODES HERE box 2 c if u won! want2 kno mor cul stuff from Doritos? Rply y or n.

    If youre not into IM lingo, it might be a littletricky to understand. A quick visit to a websitesuch as can provide two-wayonline translations for textually impaired.

    In short, the Doritos dialogue directed me tothe Doritos micro-site,, to enter acode and determine what I had won as a resultof my text messaging. The campaign speaks tomobile millennials in a language that is authen-tic to the medium.The imagery and overall feelof the website resonate with the target audi-ence. Although parent company Frito-Laydoes not publicly release information about theresult of its marketing programmes, theDoritos INNW campaign merits recognitionon the quality of its creative execution, if notfor its effectiveness.

    The only shortcoming I found with the cam-paign is that it didnt fulfil its full potential onmy mobile phone. Many consumers who havethe ability to text message or IM on their phoneswill usually have internet access on the handsetas well.

    Using my mobile phone, I fully participatedin the text messaging part of the campaign.When the final text message directed me, I attempted to go there on my phone.Unfortunately the interactive agency, TribalDDB, failed to take such natural consumerbehaviour into consideration. Because the web-site was largely written in Flash, it would notappear on my phone.

    There was no message directing me to go to acomputer to log in, no explanation and no apol-ogy. Such a disconnection with the userexperience can cause the user to lose interest asa result of being asked to jump between onemedium and another.

    Keeping up with millennials

    Young consumers are often the architects ofchange in our culture.They find the most amaz-ing ways in which to use technology, oftenbeyond its original intent. They are physicallymobile and mentally agile. And if your brandisnt moving at least as fast as they are, yourefalling behind.

    Establishing a connection with millennials isimportant now and in the future. If your brandis able to maintain a relationship with them, ittaps into a lifetime of consumer loyalty and pref-erence. And thats something to text homeabout.

    1122 YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005

    Mitch McCasland is the principal and founder ofBrand Inquiry, a research consultancy on customerinsights, competitive intelligence and brand strategy.With 20 years experience in marketing and researchdisciplines, he worked for Fortune 1000 brands suchas Anheuser-Busch, Cadbury Schweppes, Verizon, Eli Lilly & Company, Lennox, Wilsonart, Wolf GourmetRanges and Procter & Gamble. He is a faculty member at Southern Methodist Universitys BusinessLeadership Center where he lectures on brand strategy in the MBA programme at the Cox School of

    Young consumers are oftenthe architects of change inour culture. They find themost amazing ways inwhich to use technology,often beyond its originalintent

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 12

  • YOUNG CONSUMERS Quarter 2 2005 1133


    Editors note: developments in Europe

    Mitch McCasland from Brand Inquiry, US, gives us a fascinating picture of the mobile scenein the US, and it is worth just looking at what is available in Europe, where licences wereawarded in early 2000 by many countries to run third-generation wireless services.Hutchison 3G (now 3) acquired the largest licence in the UK, where it launched in March2003. Hutchison 3G is co-owned by Hutchison Whampoa (Hong Kong), KPN Mobile(Netherlands) and NTT DoCoMo, Japans largest mobile phone company.

    The worlds first live 3G service was launched in Tokyo by NTT DoCoMo in 2001.Currently 3 offers users entertainment through video clips, ring tones and fun messages,sports news including video highlights, and news and finance news including breaking newson international finance. Other UK network operators are now online, including Vodafoneand Orange. O2 is launching 3G pay as you go later in the year, and T-Mobile is expectedto launch 3G at the end of the year. The features now available on 3G include the follow-ing.

    Download video: the big selling point of 3G is the ability to download video clips to yourhandset this can be sports snippets, music, news headlines, weather forecasts, adultcontent or movie trailers.

    Video calls: make and receive video calls to/from other 3G users. See who youre talking to in real time.

    Pictures: 3G phones can take still digital pictures as well as coping with video. You cansend photos to other 3G users, as well as to users with non-3G phones that use MMS.Data speeds are considerably faster than a standard 2.5G MMS phone.

    Location-based services: see a map of where you are, and where to find nearest shops,banks or other amenities.

    Games: download games up to 30 times faster than standard GSM phones, and playonline games such as Bomberman, Splinter Cell and the old favourite Scrabble.

    In May this year Vodafone, the worlds largest mobile phone firm by revenue, announcedthat it had signed up to 2.4 million subscribers to its 3G phone services worldwide, farhigher than forecast.

    The killer application for 3G is mobile television. In Europe Telia in Sweden hadannounced a TV service, and T-Mobile in Germany has offered TV services geared towardsmajor events such as the European Football Cup. Orange has just announced the launch ofa nine-channel mobile TV service in the UK, and is already offering 23 TV channels overmobile phones in France.

    Barbie Clarke

    McCasland.qxd 13/06/05 15:17 Page 13