It is no longer a new news to marketers that mobile is THE marketing tool of the year. To mark their tenth anniversary, even Facebook announced that the popular social networking site is shifting its focus from desktops to social apps for mobile devices. The question is, are Indian marketers looking at mobiles as a part of their marketing mix seriously?
Mobile marketing has the potential to be the ultimate game changer. Unlike traditional channels such as print, TV and radio which primarily create preferences and drive demands, Mobiles can complete the loop by not only creating preferences and driving demands but also helping shoppers to complete a purchase! Brands such as Domino's Pizza and IndiGo airlines who have introduced mobile apps in India to facilitate purchase are reaping benefits that only mobiles as a marketing channel can offer.
Marketers are also slowly realising the potential of mobiles as a communication channel and adopting their communication strategy accordingly. Apart from QR codes, mobile games and apps, mobiles are getting their share in the media plans of a few brands who are considering it as one of the channels to disseminate their brand message. According to an MMA report, Indian marketers spent Rs. 300 Crores on mobile ads in 2013. The figure exceeded the projected spends by Rs. 50 Crores! Spends are slated to grow over 43 per cent to reach Rs. 430 Crores in 2014.
Some marketers have realised the importance of Mobiles in reaching the unlettered audience in India, especially in the semi urban and rural areas of India, who are neither using social media nor watching television (due to frequent power outages). This audience is the the toughest to reach but hold maximum potential especially for brands in the FMCG category. Of India's 554.8 million mobile users (as on September 2013), more than 228 million (54%) reside in rural india. Companies such as HUL are using the media fairly innovatively. Some brands use IVR (Interactive Voice Response) to get their brand message across while others send SMS with a phone number to the rural audience. When the consumer clicks the number and listens to the ad, she receives a phone top-up worth a couple of rupees.
While it looks extremely positive on paper, the truth is, most brands are still reluctant to spend on mobile marketing. Even brands which recognise the potential are spending less than 1% of their total marketing budget on mobiles. For marketers to prove that they are serious and have understood the power of mobiles, the dialogue has to move from why to how. Indian marketers would have truly embraced mobiles the day they stop seeking data to justify its existence as a channel in their marketing mix and start asking questions about how to integrate mobiles into their marketing mix better.