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How Retailers and Brands Are Using Mobile to Win at Shelf... and Beyond [Slide Show]

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111216-01. Intro

According to Mobile Marketer, the advertising dollars spent on mobile marketing this season will double what was spent in 2010. Clearly, leading brands are taking the opportunity to capitalize on the mobile boom this year and beyond.

Many retailers are doing an excellent job with mobile. Target, for instance, has surrounded its customers with useful tools, such as its mobile comparison shopper, which enhances the shopping experience while keeping the brand top of mind with customers. Likewise, brands that control the retail experience, such as Starbucks, are winning as well. The simple, elegant Starbucks mobile app is, by all accounts, a smashing success—tying mobile with loyalty and convenience.

The truth is, however, that many brands haven't quite cracked the mobile code yet. One reason for that is that their most critical focus tends to be on budgets, operations, and approaches.

Here are four quick points (with takeaways) that'll help brands use mobile to win at the shelf.

111216-02. 1. Brand budgeting processes are not built for test/learn

1. Brand budgeting processes are not built for test/learn

Shopper-marketing departments within brand-marketing teams often work in silos, so the teams that work closely with retailers may not have influence over the bulk of mobile budgets. Many have mastered the art of the point-of-sale (POS) display, but have yet to use mobile and digital to bridge the gap in-store. In addition, many retailers have great programs that can be tapped into, and some have even restructured themselves to resemble media properties.

Takeaways: Align your mobile-marketing strategies with your shopper-marketing team, and set aside an annual test-and-learn budget to ensure you're built for innovation. At the same time, devote a fixed percentage of your digital/mobile budget squarely to the shopping behaviors of your target market. Make sure that digital shopper marketing is part of your holistic connections planning process. If your customer indexes highly for online media consumption, chances are, so do her shopping habits.

111216-03. 2. The myriad of choices can be overwhelming

2. The myriad of choices can be overwhelming

With choices, such as SMS, apps, mobile Web, quick response (QR) codes, gamification, and augmented reality... where should you focus your efforts? Prioritizing your mobile efforts can be daunting, and it's just one slice of your overall marketing pie. Successful brands have simplified the decision process; they have ensured that they are ready when their customers need and want them the most, and that often means getting their mobile Web homes in order to meet the needs of the consumer at shelf. That's where brands should start the prioritization process.

Takeaway: This holiday season, more brands than ever before will take advantage of localization and "geo-fencing" (targeting users within a virtual geographic area) to drive consumers into their stores. Those brands that have already laid the foundation for their efforts by solidifying their mobile Web experience are most poised to take advantage of mobile marketing opportunities this year.

111216-04. 3. The focus is on app development vs. a holistic approach

3. The focus is on app development vs. a holistic approach

Yahoo and Nielsen recently reported that 86% of consumers use their mobile devices while watching TV. But many brands are missing the golden opportunity to turn a TV spot impression into a more-engaging experience because they aren't thinking holistically. Rather, they've placed mobile into a silo with digital—or worse, into its own silo.

Retail brands, such as Sears and Old Navy, are bridging the gap this holiday season by using new technologies (e.g., Shazam) to transport the user experience from TV to mobile. Those mobile offers then drive to retail.

Takeaway: If your current marketing plan includes heavy broadcast this holiday season, make sure that you have smart, relevant, complementary mobile content ready. Chances are your consumers are going to search your brand via their smartphone or tablet device. Product finders, where-to-buy information, ratings and reviews, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are all content that should be readily available to consumers.

111216-05. 4. The consumers are in control

4. The consumers are in control

It used to be that brands and retailers were in complete control of their messages—especially at POS. The brands and retailers that are truly winning recognize that in today's digital age, the "Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)," coined by Google, is just as important, and the convergence of the ZMOT in-store via mobile content is critical. Winning brands, such as Sephora, have optimized the entire experience, from local search to enhanced mobile Web content and offers. Items such as mobile-only offers, store locators, and shopping lists own the valuable mobile homepage real estate.

Takeaway: Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer. If you were at shelf and searched for your brand, what would you want to see? Chances are the answer is ratings and reviews, product comparators, mobile coupons, and mobile-ready video. Brands have rich digital insight into consumer behavior for media consumption, but how does that translate to consumers' shopping behaviors? Brands that are already capitalizing today know the answer to that question.

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Rick Gardinier is chief digital officer of Brunner, an independent, full-service advertising agency.

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