Books

Mobile Ka-Ching: 'The Impulse Economy'

This how-to manual for the business community prepares marketers and retailers for the coming age of the mobile economy.


The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy

Publisher: Atria
Length: 229 pages
Author: Gary Schwartz
Price: $24.00
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: 2011-10
Amazon

In recent years, the mobile phone has emerged as an increasingly ubiquitous presence, extending its reach into nearly every aspect of our daily lives. With the development of smart phone technology, the lines dividing the physical and digital realms of experience are blurring as our phones become extensions of our public and private identities. Through social media, micro-blogging, location based technologies, and one-click purchasing the smart phone enables a perpetually connected, impulse driven intersection of communication and commerce. The age of augmented reality is upon us, as we move closer and closer everyday to Steve Jobs’ vision of the perfect, borderless screen.

To some this merging of humans and technology may sound like the dawn of a dystopian era in which all human interactions are reduced to the realm of data — traceable and quantifiable, with the potential for surveillance, invasions of privacy and previously unthought of systems of control. To others, such as Gary Schwartz, author of The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes them Buy, it makes another sound altogether, that of the “mobile ka-ching”.

Mobile technology currently has three times more data traffic than the entire global internet of 2000, opening up unprecedented business and marketing opportunities as consumers use their phones to research, purchase products on-the-go and enhance their physical shopping experiences. Schwartz’ book provides a thorough examination of these emerging opportunities, advising marketers, retailers and business owners as to the most effective strategies of winning the coveted “mind share” of the mobile consumer. He sees mobile shopping as a bridge between the physical store with its limited aisles and the limitless aisle of the internet: “In many ways, the store… is bringing the cloud inside its walls… Mobile is making this possible. Perhaps this is the happy medium for the future store. Providing the social setting for the shopper to navigate and touch tangible goods in the aisle but allowing for the control and convenience of the digital click (172).”

Whereas the internet provides the shopper with unlimited access to product research and price comparison, facilitating what Schwartz describes as a thoughtful approach to consumption, the physical store thrives on its ability to engage with two distinct types of shoppers: those who go to stores to buy specific items and those who go to stores to shop. Mobile technology provides strategic advantages for engaging with both types of shoppers, but where it really thrives is in the realm of impulse shopping: “Online thoughtful commerce is to mobile impulse commerce what slow dining is to fast food. Mobile commerce is ‘pizza commerce,’ stripped of option paralysis and optimized for one-click decision making.”

According to Schwartz, the key to mitigating this condition of “option paralysis” which results from the infinite aisle of the internet, and ensuring the immediate gratification of mobile’s one-click shopping lies in effectively targeted marketing strategies that speak directly to the tastes of individual consumers. These targeting strategies rely on the ability to mine individual consumer data so that offers and advertisements are curtailed specifically to their particular recipients, resulting in the kinds of impulse purchases which Schwartz conceives as the engine of the mobile economy. He cites the success of the company Adgregate Markets in marketing DVD sales directly to consumers through targeted ads: “Want it! Need it! Works only if the messaging has bulls-eye targeting. Adgregate worked with the Jumptap ad network which can pull detailed consumer records (anonymously) directly from certain carrier’s records. Targeting drives clicks. Targeting drives conversion.”

Whereas these kinds of targeted marketing strategies may work to drive impulse purchases by eliminating the option paralysis of the internet’s infinite aisle, they raise the question of how to facilitate the kinds of instant, frictionless payment that are necessary for closing mobile sales. In response to this challenge, Schwartz describes three different types of mobile payment solutions that are distinctly suited to different types of shopping: the carrier wallet which works via the wireless carrier bill, the proximity wallet which works via contactless mobile payment, and the quick check out wallet which works as traditional payment optimized for the mobile phone. While the carrier wallet has proven to be an effective approach for small, in phone purchases such as ringtones and APPS, and the quick checkout wallet offers little advantages to the consumer over existing payment methods, the proximity wallet provides the potential for instant, frictionless physical purchasing that could revolutionize the banking, credit card and media communications industries.

Proximity wallets work by tethering an individual phone to an existing payment method such as a credit card or a bank account. In store payments would then occur via a two way communication channel activated by an RFID chip embedded in the phone. Schwartz describes the enthusiasm of Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, with regard to to the revolutionary potential of these emerging near field communication (NFC) consumer technologies as he recently “proclaimed the end of plastic payment. According to Mr. Schmidt, NFC-enabled phones with a digital wallet (or more specifically, a Google Wallet) will allow for universal payment and a host of other exhilarating actions.” By combining universal, instantaneous payment methods with targeted sales strategies that speak directly to consumers the mobile economy will present marketers and retailers with unprecedented opportunities to guide and influence the kinds of on-the-go, impulse purchases that will define this new era of commerce.

While these aspects of the mobile economy may signal a wealth of opportunity for business, marketing and retail interests they raise many legitimate questions for consumers with regards to privacy, security and personal liberty. Schwartz recognizes the potential for these concerns with regard to the emergence of the m-wallet: “Mobile wallets are unnaturally personal places, tied to our social personality, our social identity, and, more important, our communication channel. However challenging, successfully establishing an m-wallet relationship is worth any effort. Pairing mobile commerce with a customer relationship is the coveted goal of any retailer or brand.” Rather than seriously considering the invasive potential of these types of mobile technologies, Schwartz views consumers’ reservations as obstacles that must be overcome at the expense of any effort.

For the business community, the rewards vastly outweigh the risks when it comes to security and privacy in the mobile economy. Later, when addressing similar fears about the prospect of being tracked and targeted by brands and marketers, both in the digital realm and in the physical world through location based technologies, he is once again dismissive: “There is a consumer paranoia about being found, tracked, measured, recorded and profiled.” He goes on to assert that “anonymous contextual advertising is good for consumers: relevant advertising is better than scattershot advertising.” While this may be the case for some consumers, there are many, like myself, who would prefer to formulate their own opinions and desires free from the constant surveillance and solicitations of brands, marketers and business interests.

From the websites that we visit to words that we write in our emails and Facebook posts, to the places we go and the products that we buy, everything is fair game for the data miners and marketing departments in this dawning age of the mobile economy. By framing security and privacy concerns as “paranoia” on the part of the consumer, Schwartz and the business community that he represents risk alienating the very consumers that will ultimately shape the contours of these emerging markets.

4

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image