We think in terms of features and individuals. But features mean little if they are built without context in mind and people don’t live in bubbles, they interact. Mobile adds to the complexity of how people engage with a brand because it devices are woven into the fabric of daily life, no longer defined by limited, often fixed, locations.
So before we start creating apps and advertising, we need to step back and ask what it is people doing when they shop, when they drive, when they make breakfast, etc., and how mobile technologies fit into that larger scheme. In other words, we need to think about why they do what they do.
- What is the situation? Think about every place and setting that a person might be when they are using (or could be using) mobile technology in shopping. This appears daunting, but it is a fairly straight forward process narrowing the scope. For example, if you sell electronics is the target a mom? Is she with kids? Is she incorporating it into her shopping routine or making a special trip? Is she driving or walking? Who else is with her? The point is to uncover opportunities based on the context of people’s real lives, not on assumptions and personal bias.
- Who’s device is it anyway? We think of mobile devices as very personal, individual tools, but this isn’t always the case. Think about who else uses it, what they use it for and how these “shared” experiences provide insight into new opportunities, UI design and messaging.
- New York or New Delhi? How does culture shape understanding? Mobile phone purchases in China are driven much more by fashion than the technology itself. In India, more people begin their online life with a phone than a PC, shaping their willingness to use the mobile device for a wide range of applications. How we view the world differs significantly from group to group and it is imperative to know how these differences will shape the mobile experience.
- What do we build? All of this leads to creating a system of possible messaging and retail strategies that reflect the nuances of daily life. It also allows you to begin thinking beyond a mobile strategy and develop an overarching integrated strategy of which mobile is a part.
Thinking about brand and mobile technology development in this way opens a whole new realm of possibilities for messaging strategies, service offerings, partnerships and product development. It allows brands to take advantage of seemingly spontaneous shopping behavior by tailoring messaging to the right time of day, the right setting and the right cultural cues. Get it right and the brand stands not only to make millions off of mobile shopping, but also to define what it will be.