The shocking pace of US smartphone adaptation has quickened two prevailing social mobile trends: 1) a heightened demand for instant information, and 2) an increasing dependence on user-generated content (UGC) for consumer purchase decision.
The first trend is highlighted in a recent study conducted between March and April 2012 by The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which found that the spread of internet-connected smartphones is changing people’s communications with others and their relationships with information. Specifically, smartphone users’ ability to access data immediately through apps, web browsers and contact with their social networks is creating a new culture of real-time information seekers and problem solvers.
In short, mobile-connected consumers want it all, and they want it now.
eMarketer converted key data points from the Pew study into this nifty info-graphic:
The second trend, the move to UGC for purchase decision, is especially apparent among the Millennial generation. Why should business owners and marketers care? By 2017, Millennials – currently in their mid-teens to mid-30s – will have more spending power than any other generation in the US marketplace.¹
According to a whitepaper put out by The Center for Generational Kinetics, Bazaarvoice, and Kelton Research, the annual spending power of Millennials, now at over $200 billion, will eclipse Baby Boomers' by 2017. Accounting for 25% of the US population, the Millennials (aka Generation Y) are estimated to be the largest consumer group in US history.
When looking for opinions about products to buy, the whitepaper noted that Millennials are 3X more likely than Boomers to turn to social channels.
Interestingly, in addition to the opinion of friends and family, Millennials actively seek out feedback from strangers, especially those with product experience, as well as industry experts. In fact, more than 80% say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality, with 51% admitting it is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family.
SOCIAL MOBILE INTEGRATION
The Pews Study data underscores the extent to which all users, led by the Millennial generation, have integrated mobile into their daily lives:
User-generated content is often driven by social channels. Mobile enables users to more easily integrate social media into their daily lives. These two points are important for businesses to comprehend. With so much knowledge at their fingertips, users can make purchase decisions on the fly anywhere, anytime.
In order to turn this into a boon rather than a bane, you need to ensure that information about your business is easy to find on your website and social media channels. Place any reviews of your products/services on your website and social channels for all to see (and add to, hopefully). Encourage frank dialogue, even negative reviews, as long as they are constructive and honest. Respond to the negative when warranted, or take the advice to heart and make changes.
For social, think geo-local, because that’s what your customers are doing. Focus on a context-based marketing approach, i.e. how can I ensure that my product and service is accessible to consumers where and when they are looking for it. You may need to create a geo-local sensitive, context-based mobile strategy if you haven’t already done so.
What does this look like? Who knows. Remember, this stuff is evolving faster than I can write about it.
One thing’s for certain, ignoring these trends is like spitting in the wind. Don’t spit in the wind: ride it into the future.
Info-Graphics Courtesy of eMarketer