Marketing to Androids

Samsung recently launched its Galaxy S4 phone, which among other features, allows you to automatically scroll the screen with a roll of your eyes.

At the same time, the blogosphere is abuzz with news that Apple might soon release an iWatch, the next step in wearable computing.

Mobile devices are becoming more and more intimate, and increasingly an extension of who we are, and David Marcotte, senior VP retail insights from Kantar believes this has massive implications for retail marketers.

I heard Marcotte speak at the WPP** The Store Global Retail Conference in Santiago, Chile last week, and found his concept of marketing to Androids to be both relevant and fascinating.

Besides being a popular mobile phone operating system, the dictionary defines Android as a robot with a human appearance.

Marcotte contends that today we are not marketing to flesh and blood consumers anymore, but “enhanced people, who are the result of 24/7 mobile.”

In a mobile-driven environment that offers constant distractions, “breaking through is not easy”, says Marcotte, and we need to rethink our approach to arresting attention and connecting with customers.

“The new challenge is not enabling the shopper, it is penetrating into their very new and different world.”

Marcotte used as an example supermarkets in South Korea that are starting to place more promotional messages on the floor, because as shoppers move about text messaging with their phones in hand, they simply don’t look up as often. (To illustrate the point another way, Marcotte also related the story of the pedestrian who texted: “OMG! almst hit by dat truk!”)

One of the big changes is the overlay of augmented reality onto the physical world. Here are three examples:

  • The iButterfly coupon redemption program, popular in Asia, where an app allows customers to virtually catch butterflies that appear only in certain retail premises. When they do, they receive a reward.
  • Google Glasses, which give the wearer a heads up display of information, superimposed on the real world.

Of course, like our friend who was almost knocked over by “dat truk”, augmented reality has its drawbacks, as shown in this hilarious Google Glass parody video, shared by Marcotte at the WPP The Store Conference: So it’s time to consider how to connect with a customer who is as much bits and bytes as flesh and blood.

Because if you don’t, chances are your competitors will.

* Jon Bird is CEO of specialist retail marketing agency IdeaWorks (, and chairman of Octomedia, publisher of Inside Retail. Email: [email protected] Blog: Twitter: @thetweetailer

** WPP is IdeaWorks’ parent company and the world’s largest marketing communications group.


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