Apps, communities and beacons offer a mobile key to the Philippines
Calling our current era a “mobile-first society” is practically a cliché at this point, but with the recent explosion of smartphones in the Philippines, it is undeniably our reality.
The International Data Corp’s (IDC) latest study named the Philippines as Southeast Asia’s third largest smartphone market, with 26.8 million shipped in 2014. This figure might seem bland, until you realise it translates into a whopping 76 per cent YOY growth. It becomes even more powerful when you consider that, according to TNS’ 2014 Connected Life report, Filipinos dedicated an average of 4.3 hours daily to their mobile device last year.
On a personal level, nothing quite drove the point home for me like having my own son ask what a computer mouse is for—of course, he doesn’t have need for one, because his life is mobile-first and, more to the point, mobile-only.
Increasing availability of, and access to, mobile apps, especially the free ones, is one of the biggest drivers of a mobile mindset. It’s a common sight to see sari-sari store owners passing the time with the free Facebook app on their mobile devices. When you hear a group of friends saying they don’t have any prepaid minutes or data loaded, so they use “free” Viber instead, you know we’ve hit a turning point.
Apps that previously seemed limited to premium users are now available to a good portion of the masses. Spotify reported that the Philippines is its second fastest-growing market in the world, with a record-breaking 2.5 billion songs streamed from Filipino subscribers—the highest number from any Asian market in its first year of launch. Coupled with the fact that nearly 60 per cent of users in the archipelago are streaming Spotify on mobile, you can imagine how enormous of an impact (and opportunity) apps can present.
Apps have become drivers that are changing the trade and consumer behaviour. Uber, for example, has actually influenced the law of the land. But what does this mean for companies and brands?
Mobile optimization is mandatory
Even if your online presence is limited to a simple banner, everything has to be mobile-friendly. A website isn’t just something that’s nice to have, but an imperative, essential for survival in this new world. And why not? Having a mobile presence is literally being right in the pocket of your customer, and the more relevant and personal your messaging and offerings are, the closer you will be to your source of business.
An app is not always the answer
"Let's just develop an app!"—the bane of all marketers everywhere. In reality, developing an app is easier said than done. After all, a good app strategy should not only be about the app itself, but should encompass a whole program including acquisition, adoption and utilization. There are numerous technologies that can be easily leveraged even before moving onto the app path.
Go for the low-hanging fruit
There are many simple fixes to help make your social content and ads engaging on a mobile platform. At the simplest level, start by checking that your images are still appealing when viewed from a mobile device.
There are also many existing technologies, functions and services that are ripe for the picking. For one, take advantage of geo-targeting, be it the more straightforward SMS or platforms such as community-based navigation app Waze, which has seen brand presence becoming increasingly prevalent. Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, service providers in the Philippines, now also offer services that are able to target users in a specific location.
Think also about leveraging existing communities, such as the rapidly growing ones in messaging apps like Viber, LINE, and KakaoTalk. LINE, for instance, offers the ability to make in-app purchases, thus quickly converting a lead to a sale.
If you’re part of the more adventurous lot, there is now a great opportunity to be among the first to market and capture this burgeoning set of mobile-loving consumers with newer technologies such as beacons. Wunderman Philippines introduced Smartcarts at grocery store Rustan’s Marketplace. Smartcarts are shopping carts with built-in beacon technology. They not only help customers search for items in the store and provide more info about the produce, but also receive insider tips and offer special deals whenever a shopper walks past a beacon.
If you’d like to take things a step further, look at the possibility of rewarding your customers for moments that they experience, with platforms such as Kiip.
It’s a different world indeed. But our relevance will only continue if we create and originate through the eyes of this new mobile-centric consumer. You need to be present where your customers are. You need to ensure you make a personal connection, and you need to make certain that your business model is agile enough to adapt in this mobile world.