Marketing: Customer Mobile Media Usage Patterns and Reaching Your Customers
19 January 2010

Marketing: Customer Mobile Media Usage Patterns and Reaching Your Customers

This article identifies three common types of customers and discusses how their mobile media usage patterns differ. Age and disposable income play an important role in mobile media consumption patterns.

Lifestyle and generational impacts are also very important when investigating how to reach your customers effectively with mobile media.

In Canada we pay the highest mobile rates in the world. I won't spend a lot of time complaining about our nations astronomical mobile Internet and mobile voice rates. Its a statistically known fact that Canadians are being heavily over charged for the poor mobile services we receive. Strangely enough, Canadians consume digital media, video, and mobile content voraciously. However, given the high cost of mobile Internet and data services in Canada there are real impacts to usage patterns in Canada. This article discusses the usage patterns to consider when reaching customers in the Canadian market using mobile media.

In Canada it is important to consider a few factors when reaching mobile users:

  • Do your customers have a mobile data plan through their work?
  • Are your customers price-conscious younger users in the 16 to 30 age range? (Up-and-Comers)
  • Are your customers Zoomers or Boomers with significant disposable income?

Do your customers have a mobile data plan through their work?

If your customers are fortunate enough to have mobile devices through work they have access to mobile data plans that are heavily discounted by their employer. There are limits imposed on usage but these customers are going to be much more inclined to do bandwidth intensive tasks. After working with these customers on various projects I have identified the following usage patterns for these types of customers:

  • They use push email to receive email immediately to their device either through Blackberry email services or through Exchange Push email services. They are notified immediately of incoming mail and tend to respond rapidly to these incoming messages.
  • They are likely to install Mobile Apps for business related activities. These include utilities, business apps, weather and information apps, and news subscription information apps.
  • They are moderate consumers of mobile video content. The video content they view is mostly news, business, and training related content. They are unlikely to view entertainment video content on their devices due to the business focus of their usage patterns for their mobile device.
  • They are not concerned about bandwidth usage so they are more likely to use the mobile data network and not be so worried about finding cheaper free Wi-Fi connections. This means they are on their mobile devices doing bandwidth intensive tasks all day.
  • At night they tend to connect on their home Wi-Fi networks to do entertainment and personal activities.

These customers are active, all day users and consumers of mobile media with a strong business and professional focus in their usage activities.

Are your customers price-conscious younger users in the 16 to 30 age range? (Up-and-Comers)

The so called "Up-and-Comers" are younger professionals who are starting their careers and are highly digital in their approach to work, life, and social interactions. I would argue that the trends for Up-and-Comers are very similar for the teen market. I will group these two categories of customers together for the purposes of this article.

When reaching these customers you have to consider their more limited budget. They are also very savvy about how they can reduce costs by leveraging Wi-Fi networks, text messages, and lower bandwidth mobile media activities. They do not want to be stuck with a high data usage bill. In Canada a $200 bill is a reality because cell phone carriers charge big bucks for mobile bandwidth. Plans with lots of bandwidth included are expensive and low-price plans will charge heavy per megabyte rates for usage beyond the very low included megabytes included in the plan. Its unfortunate that this is still an issue in Canada.

The following usage patterns are common for this type of customer:

  • They are heavy text message users. All you can eat text message plans are common now in Canada and these customers make sure they can text message all the time. Text messaging using their smartphone keyboards (rather than keypads) is the norm now. They upgrade their devices to make sure they have either an on screen keyboard or a thumb keyboard. They basically text all day all the time. Reaching them on text is an important consideration.
  • These customers know how to configure their devices for free Wi-Fi hotspots, they know where they are, find them, and connect on as many free Wi-Fi networks as they can throughout the day to reduce their overall data usage. Setting up hotspots for mobile devices is a great way to attract these customer to your physical place of business.
  • Social networking is a lifestyle reality for this customer type. They are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instant Messaging throughout their day. They are actively uploading content, Tweeting, and checking their friends social networking touch points. Social networking is a matter of social survival for this demographic so you need to be on these channels to reach these customers.
  • Video, YouTube, Facebook Videos, Flickr, and all forms of digital media are consumed in large quantities by these customers. They are price conscious so they will be cautious about using the mobile carrier network and will opt for as many free Wi-Fi or home Wi-Fi connection options as possible. They tend to consume this content in bursts when they are in a cheap Wi-Fi zone. They are aware of the price and data usage impacts and strategically save money by cleverly seeking out as many cheap ways to connect as possible.
  • Mobile App usage is very high in this customer category. They use the broadest range of app types because Apps typically consume bandwidth efficiently. They like mobile apps, experiment with them, and they even pay for mobile apps (especially games).
  • Mobile websites can be bandwidth hogs, since many sites are still not designed to deliver lower bandwidth pages to mobile devices. If you can design your web content to adapt to mobile devices so that the pages are lower in page weight and load quickly, you are likely to attract these customers to your mobile web presence.
  • These customers are prepared to browse sites that are not designed for mobile devices on their smartphones, if the content is compelling enough. They will be impressed if you take the time to offer a mobile version of your site.

Are your customers Zoomers or Boomers with significant disposable income?

These customers are trying to keep up with their kids, appear cool, ride the wave of technology, and don't want to be left behind. Many Zoomers or Boomer do not want to be classified as technology "illiterates", especially by their children or younger peers at work. They are a proud demographic who want to remain as cool as possible for as long as possible. To be fair, they are doing a fantastic job of adapting to the technology and many have the dollars to give them the freedom to actively use mobile media in all aspects of their lives.

On some level these customers are proving that they are still relevant, are keeping up with technology, and they enjoy the toy-factor of their smartphones. Often these customers have cash to spend on new toys and technology. I have seen many people in this category flaunting their smartphone in public spaces with great pride. I have even heard these types of customers say 'I just got an iPhone and I love using it'. It is a way of asserting that they are riding the technology wave and are not afraid of the changes.

Their disposable income and their interests cause some interesting impacts on their mobile media consumption:

  • These customers are having trouble adapting to Social Networking on mobile devices. They are not quite sure how to engage in social networking because many of their peers are not actively using social networking channels. I often get questions about why social networking is important and how they should use it on their mobile phones. The younger demographics instinctively engage in it because their peers are bombarding them with social networking every day. Its not as osmotic for these customers and they struggle with finding the relevance for their daily lives.
  • They like to watch video on larger screens and find the small screen video experience to be less than optimal. They grew up with TVs, movies on big screens, and the small screen can often seem frustratingly poor quality for this demographic. It doesn't help that they are older and often find the small screens difficult to view and read. Video content can be challenging to implement for this type of customer.
  • Mobile Apps are installed by these types of customers. They tend to gravitate toward utilities, business apps, news apps, information apps. They tend to be unlikely to install games, or frivolous applications. They will pay for apps.
  • Browsing websites that are not designed for mobile devices turn off this demographic. The zooming, planning, and scrolling is not an attractive option for these customers. If your website is not designed specifically to adapt to mobile devices you will most likely not receive a mobile audience for your website for this demographic.