The Marketing Of Mobile Services

So, driving to work this morning, and I hear Chase advertising its remote check desposit service for the iPhone on the radio. This article has a good set of screen shots and description of the user's experience. Hard to imagine even 5 years ago a couple advertising a mobile service or application. How far we've come. Even three years ago, it was mostly Apple.

One of the top reasons companies give for building iPhone applications and mobile services is marketing -- the connection of innovation and technology to their brand. Chase was giving both instructions to existing iPhone owners to download as well as new customers. A very convenient mobile service being used to draw in new banking customers. It is using the availability of an interesting new feature -- and not simply "free checking" or "low interest rates on mortgages" -- to advertise Chase. It is using the availability of free services -- free mobile services.

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The Immediacy That Mobile Delivers - ESPN's World Cup Coverage On Mobile

What works well in mobile? Broadly speaking - Convenience. We define the benefits of mobile services as:

1) Content, whereby the user assesses value to the immediacy of having it now.

2) Simplicity.

3) Context (e.g., location).

Here's a great chart from Ground Truth with its analysis of unique visitors viewing soccer content during key moments of the World Cup. ESPN designs a great application, but this service really resonates on immediacy.

See our Yahoo! Fantasy Football report for an in-depth case study on the value of mobile-only and multichannel customers.

Should Marketers Check In?

Should Marketers Check In To Location-Based Social Networks?

Location-based social networks (LBSNs) have been all over the media lately. Foursquare hit 2 million users. Twitter launched, revamped, and re-launched Places. CNNMoney partnered with Gowalla around its popular annual “100 Best Places to Live” list.  There’s even a social experiment -- PleaseRobMe -- that was started in response to the hype around this new social sharing technology.   So it’s no surprise that we’ve been getting a lot more questions from marketers lately about these services.  Marketers want to know who’s using these services, how often they’re using them, what they’re using them for, how marketers can get involved, and whether they should.

We dug into our research to try to answer these questions, and at a high level what we found is that just 1% of US online adults are using LBSNs weekly, while 4% of them have tried them at least once.  The sample size of this 1% of adults who use LBSNs regularly is small, so our findings on their behaviors are directional only, but our research shows that these users are typically young, male, well-educated, and influential.  In fact, LBSN users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision. 

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The Future Of Application Stores

Apple reinvented the distribution of products and services on mobile phones, opening up direct-to-consumer opportunities for nontelecom companies. The numbers look impressive — more than 5 billion downloads and $1 billion paid to developers in the two years since the launch of the Apple App Store.

However, it also generated $429 million for Apple itself in two years. These revenues are not meaningful to Apple’s core revenues. Due to the limited number of paid apps and their significant concentration among games and navigation apps, it is likely that a significant number of independent developers have not recouped their investments via the current revenue-sharing model. The recent launch of iAd is a way for Apple to maintain the attractiveness of its platform, allowing third parties that provide free apps to develop sustainable business models.

But, despite all the hype around apps, only a minority of consumers download them monthly. A recent Forrester survey of more than 25,000 European adults shows that only 4% of all mobile users and 15% of smartphone users report downloading apps at least once per month. However, the fact that 21% of all European mobile users consider apps to be an important feature when choosing a new mobile handset highlights the large gap between today’s limited usage of apps and consumer awareness and interest.

The application store market is still nascent, but it is evolving quickly. However, in the longer run, few players will be able to address the key factors that will make them a success:

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The Data Digest: Profile Of Consumers Who Become Fans Of A Brand

Most companies are now building a social media strategy, with a presence on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube. At the same time there's much debate over the value of a "Facebook fan." In this whole discussion I was wondering which consumers are most likely to become fans of a brand. Our Technographics survey data shows that about 13% of European online adults have become “fans” of a brand, company, or product they liked recently. About 10% were interested in interacting with companies through social media but haven’t done so yet. The first group we called “brand fans,” the other “aspiring brand fans.” How do the two compare?

graphic showing profile of fans and aspiring fans

Aspiring brand fans have a more mainstream online profile: Half of them are male, and they are older in general. Brand fans, on the other hand, are more likely to be female, and two-thirds are younger than 35 years old.  And 20% of these Europeans who are fans of a brand say they are more likely to recommend the brand that they are “friends” with to their network of friends over any other brand. And this is exactly where the value of the Facebook fan lies. As my colleague Augie Ray said in his blog post: "Facebook fans have little actual value until they are activated by the brand."

Apple iPad Sales: Why Tablets Are Even Bigger Than We Thought

Consumer product strategists, even those not in direct competition with Apple, should pay attention to the iPad, because it’s defying common assumptions about consumer technology adoption.

In Tuesday’s earnings call, Apple announced that it has sold 3.27 million iPads in the quarter ending June 26. On June 22, it had announced shipping 3 million iPads—that’s 270,000 units in less than one week.

In our previously published forecast, we projected that US consumers would buy 3.5 million tablets in 2010 and 8.4 million in 2011, and that 59 million US consumers would own a tablet by 2015. Critics comparing our numbers to Apple’s have missed some important differences: Apple’s published numbers are global (in 10 countries so far, and 9 more starting July 23), consumer and enterprise (Apple claims that 50% of Fortune 100 countries are “deploying or piloting” the iPad), and represent shipments, not necessarily sell-through. Our numbers are US-only, consumer-only, and represent final sales to consumers net of any returns — all of which help explain why our numbers will always be lower than Apple’s.

However, based on new data from Forrester’s consumer surveys, as well as Apple’s rate of “millioning,” we think our initial forecast was conservative, especially in the short term, and we plan to publish an update later this year once we have more supply-side and consumer data.

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The Service-To-Device Journey: The Key To Success For Digital Music Product Strategy

I’ve been covering the digital music space for over a decade now and in that time I’ve seen a lot of services and devices come and go. I’ve also seen a lot of lessons learned and there is clearly more choice of high-quality music services and products now than at any stage before. And yet there is one major Achilles' heel which continues to cripple the market: poor service-to-device journeys. We have great services and we have great devices. But we have very few great service and device combinations. Pitifully few companies put anything like enough focus on the service-to-device journey (or if they do, they execute poorly). Just as much effort needs to be invested in ensuring services are fully integrated and optimized for supported devices as in building the services and devices themselves. Otherwise: great device + great service = poor experience. 

So, in the Consumer Product Strategy team at Forrester, we decided to do something about this problem and created a new methodology that will help product strategists build winning service/device combinations.  We call it the Convenience Quotient of Music Experience. For those not familiar with Forrester’s Convenience Quotient, it is based on a very simple equation:

Convenience = benefits – barriers.

We’ve launched the methodology in a new report entitled ‘Which Device Offers The Best Music Experience?’ (And I’ll answer that question in just a moment).

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Is This The End Of Premium Pricing For Hybrid Cars?

Today, Ford announced that the hybrid version of its Lincoln MKZ luxury sedan will carry the same price tag as its gas-only version.

Wow.

Ever since hybrid cars first became available, they have carried a premium price tag, which has in many cases been offset somewhat by tax incentives for the buyer (which ultimately help the manufacturer by driving demand for these new yet up to now pricier vehicles). (Here's a brief rundown of the cost differences between some manufacturers' gas and hybrid models.) Ford's news breaks that model by removing the hybrid pricing premium. But if you add in the consumer tax incentive, the hybrid vehicle now becomes substantially less expensive -- and with better gas mileage, its operational costs should be lower, too. It's a win-win for the consumer. But is it a win-win for Ford? 

Clearly, it's a brave and bold move. By offering price equality between the two models, Ford will raise awareness of the Lincoln brand and (it hopes) drive additional sales, which would lower the overall per-vehicle cost. Also, the tax incentives for hybrid vehicles vary by make and model, and they are phased out by the IRS based upon the quantity of vehicles sold, as reported by the manufacturer. Without the tax incentive, only consumers who drive a LOT of miles would be able to make up the difference in cost for a premium-priced hybrid car based on increased fuel efficiency.

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Sometimes You Realize Just How Cool Market Research Can Be...

I should start by saying that I, personally, think market research is cool every day. But, sometimes you come across something that just really excites you. As an MR professional, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it’s a really cool study or some fascinating data — and sometimes it’s an exciting new approach to market research. As an analyst, I attend a lot of briefings. Some are highly intriguing, and others . . . well, you get the idea. I thought today I’d share with you a couple of interesting companies that I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks. I encourage you to explore them on your own, but I’ll start you off with a few interesting tidbits.

The first company is Tobii Technology . It specializes in eye-tracking and eye-control studies. Its technologies are used in many scientific studies, but they are also used in market research applications. If you’re familiar with eye-tracking studies, you know that they’re not new by any means. However, Tobii has made the method more accessible and more convenient. Where it once involved huge, cumbersome glasses that took a long time to calibrate, Tobii has introduced a streamlined version that can be calibrated easily. The options for use are endless: shopping studies, media consumption, copy testing, ad placement — the list goes on.

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Amazon Makes It Clear It Will Survive iPadmania

This is a phenomenal week to be covering the publishing industry. Tuesday, Apple released its quarterly earnings. Big surprise, another record-breaking quarter for the folks in Cupertino. A few billion here, a few billion there, blah, blah. How amazing is it that we're not really surprised by such overperformance in an otherwise still-troubling economic environment? Of great interest to me, the eReader guy, was the final iPad tally for the quarter ending June 26th: 3.27 million units worldwide. Still no good guidance on what the US split is, but no matter how you slice it, iPads are hot. (And, no, I still have not bought one, still holding out for iPad 2.0).

And if you follow the implications of that success, as many in the media have, Amazon should just concede the eReader business, pack up its cream-colored Kindle and go home, right? 

Wrong. And to prove it, Amazon made a point of announcing some news of its own, the day before Apple's results were public. Amazon flaunted its own success in selling both Kindle devices and eBooks. That's right, despite that iPad upstart, the Kindle is still flying off the shelves, selling more units each month than the month before it all through Q2, when the iPad challenger was supposedly pummeling it. And it's dominating the eBook business as well, selling as much as eight in ten of the eBooks of major bestsellers, seeing its eBook sales rate triple over last year. Oh, and Amazon indicated it sells 1.8 eBooks for every hardback book it sells. That's right, even though it discounts hardbacks to paperback prices for many bestsellers.

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