The increasing affordability of smartphones and wireless Internet is driving the exponential growth of smartphone adoption across most Asia Pacific countries. Brands must develop compelling digital marketing strategies in order to engage these technology-empowered customers, as many of them will have their first digital interactions with brands through a mobile device, not a desktop.
With this goal in mind, cosmetics retailer Maybelline chose responsive web design over mobile apps to connect with digitally savvy consumers in 10 Asian countries: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The reason for this was two fold:
Increase its reach among the target audience. Maybelline’s target audience is females between the ages of 15 and 25. The company’s objective was to reach out to as many customers who know the brand as possible and raise awareness among those who don’t. Responsive design helps them to serve all segments — the growing number of smartphone and tablet users and the large existing installed base of feature phone users.
Ensure fast time-to-market without increasing the burden on local teams. Building native mobile apps for each country would have had two implications. First, it would have been complex, costly, and slow to develop, optimize, and regularly update apps for at least two OSes (iOS and Android) per country. Second, Maybelline would have needed to manage a separate content management system (CMS) for each country’s mobile app in addition to the existing CMS for the desktop website. This was a significant obstacle, as the company did not want to employ additional, dedicated resources in every country to manage the mobile CMS and its associated complexities.
When I first looked at responsive web design (RWD) back in June 2012, only early adopters (mostly startups, agencies and media firms) had taken the plunge. Back then, developers and web designers alike were still getting to grips with the concepts required to build responsive sites. eBusiness leaders, although intrigued by the premise of a single site able to adapt across devices, were mostly playing a pragmatic wait-and-see game. Fast forward almost 18 months and much has changed. Although hype and confusion continue (not least due to a perplexing set of technology terms and marketing buzzwords), RWD has firmly cemented itself as a natural evolution of web, and it’s here to stay.
In our latest research on RWD, my colleague Mark Grannan and I spoke to over 20 digital agencies and end user clients that have adopted responsive design. We found that RWD sites are still far from ubiquitous; however, adoption is growing steadily. As web traffic on mobile phones and tablets is increasing to the point where firms must optimize for these touchpoints, RWD is taking center stage in many enterprise discussions.