OpenMarket – September 17, 2015
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have increased connectivity and now allow businesses to enjoy more frequent and regular contact with consumers. However, with these enhanced lines of communication comes greater responsibility. Businesses need to cautiously use the correct methods of communication and not overstep their boundaries.
The Shifting Consumer Marketplace
When looking at mobile communication, brand messages, and the delivery of content, it’s important to start by analyzing the shifting consumer marketplace in the United States. It’s the only way to appropriately understand what’s happening and why certain consumers prefer certain channels.
According to a new Census Bureau report, the baby boomer generation – those between the ages of 51 and 69 – is slipping into the background, while the millennial generation – those between the ages of 15 and 35 – is rising to the forefront.
“In a sense, 2015 marks the demographic passing of the baby boom generation, and it will continue to be an ever smaller part of the total U.S. population until it disappears altogether later this century,” says Matthew Snipp, a Stanford University sociology professor.
While this “demographic passing” is incredibly interesting from a cultural standpoint, it’s even more intriguing when looked at through the lens of the marketplace. Millennials have recently surpassed baby boomers and now represent the highest spending power in the country ($200 billion in annual buying power). Even more fascinating is the fact that millennials have a significant amount of influence over older generations and seem to be trendsetters, even outside their own demographic groups.
But don’t count the baby boomers out just yet. Discretionary spending seems to be on the rise, as more boomers retire and seek to enjoy the money they’ve worked so hard to earn. As John H. Fleming writes in an article for Gallup, “Leading-edge boomers appear to have greater latitude in their spending – and are applying it to things they would prefer to do rather than things they have to do.”
So what does all this mean and how does it relate to mobile communication between businesses and consumers? Well, the takeaway is pretty simple: Different segments of the market have different attitudes, preferences, and habits, and it’s critical that businesses identify these characteristics and pursue communications strategies that address these preferences.
Looking at Different Forms of Mobile Communication
Let’s take a brief moment to review the common forms of mobile communication that brands use to engage with customers:
- Text messaging – or SMS (Short Message Service) – has quickly risen to prominence over the past 15 years and is now one of the preferred channels for consumers of all ages. This is due in large part to the ubiquity of smartphones, the familiarity with the technology, and competitive pricing of all-inclusive mobile phone services.
- It’s difficult to imagine email disappearing as it’s also familiar, easy to use, and universal. In terms of communication, email certainly has its pros and cons for brands looking to engage customers.
- Person-to-person phone calls and voicemails are powerful because they leverage the simplicity and familiarity of voice. However, it is interesting to note that the number of phone calls the average person makes is on the decline, whereas the number of text messages the average person sends and receives is on the rise. Many studies show that consumers prefer text messaging over voice for customer service interactions.
- Social media. Smartphones have allowed social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to expand far beyond desktop computers and internet browsers. These networks are now able to deliver messages on the go.
- Apps/push notifications. Finally, you have mobile apps. Apps allow businesses to send push notifications to a user’s phone to notify them of important information. Depending on the customer and the brand, this can be a valuable form of mobile communication.
Regardless of whether you’re targeting baby boomers or millennials, it’s clear that mobile communication is a must. Consumers of all ages are familiar with mainstream mobile channels and it’s pertinent that you leverage these opportunities to engage with your customers. But which form of mobile communication do your customers prefer?
Millennials Demand SMS
While baby boomers still have tremendous spending power, it’s wise for brands to start shifting their attention towards millennials and their increasingly deep wallets. That means as the country’s demographics shift, so should your mobile communications strategy.
“Customers have shown a preference for mobility,” says Tim Fujita-Yuhas, OpenMarket’s Director of Product Management and New Product Strategy. “Customers are always on their mobile devices, and texting is now their preferred channel.”
Fujita-Yuhas is referring to data that shows 85 percent of customers between the ages of 18 and 35 prefer to deal with businesses via text, as opposed to phone. Furthermore, 71 percent of parents with small children prefer SMS to other forms of mobile communication. And roughly 44 percent of consumers say they would prefer to “press a button to initiate a text conversation,” rather than wait on hold to speak with a customer service agent.
“[Texting] is so easy to use. Everyone has texting available to them on their phones, and they all know how to use it,” says Fujita-Yuhas. “It doesn’t require the customer to download anything, buy any new technology, or change carriers or service providers.”
Don’t Alienate Baby Boomers
While SMS is clearly the best way to target the growing millennial consumer base, it would be unwise to alienate baby boomers. In addition to targeting this older generation with SMS – which a healthy segment prefers – you should also pay attention to other channels like email and voice.
The key is striking a healthy balance that positions your company for future success. A multi-channel approach is ideal. If you’re investing in anything, it should be SMS. As the consumer spending power continues to shift away from baby boomers and towards millennials, you want to be prepared with the appropriate strategies, and SMS allows you to do that.
Contact OpenMarket Today
At OpenMarket, we understand that mobile is influencing how customers interact and engage with brands. That’s why we tirelessly work towards providing our enterprise clients with simple and effective technologies and platforms that allow for seamless communication and flexibility. If you’re interested in integrating SMS messaging into your mobile communications strategy, please contact us today. We would be happy to discuss the best solutions for your business.