We Are All Mobile Teens

To borrow from McCann Truth Central, most of us have owned mobile devices (not to mention smartphones) for, on average, 12 years — and we’re still figuring out mobile phone behaviors and the impact of mobile on our relationships. We have distinct mobile personalities.

This means we’re all mobile teens, trying to envision our futures and figuring out our relationships with others and with brands. If mobile marketing is entering the teenage years, then needless to say, tablet marketing is in its infancy.

To draw the analogy a step further, let’s consider marketers as parents. What does this mean? It implies that marketing leaders should help their kids grow and develop, play to their strengths, accept their differences, and reinforce their identities without forcing them to become what they are not. It means that the future will be full of surprises, with unknown territories and new use cases to come for not only smartphones and tablets but also reinvented laptops and personal computers. A lot of the attention will be paid to the new baby (the tablet), certainly creating some conflicts with the older sibling (the smartphone), which is particularly keen to become independent despite its relative immaturity.

While we focus on the difference between smartphones and tablets today in order to be pragmatic, the inconvenient truth is that in the long term, it doesn't really matter. Why? Firstly, because it doesn't make sense to try to stamp an immutable label on an entire class of devices (tablets, smartphones, phablets, etc.). Definitions are blurring and new devices (kids) will come along, be they wearables or sensor-laden devices and other connected objects. Secondly, all these devices are part of a continuum of computing devices with at least two dimensions: mobility and connectivity. So what matters most is understanding how and in which context your own core target audiences will use these increasingly connected devices and touchpoints throughout the day. At Forrester, we call this context marketing and my colleague Anthony Mullen will develop this idea at our forthcoming Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA.

I strongly believe that mobile will be more disruptive than the Web, and I'll be speaking more on this topic and on how to master mobile engagement at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA in London, May 21-22. Or join my colleagues in the US at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in Los Angeles, April 18-19, to learn more about creating brand advantage with perpetually connected customers.