US Consumers Still in Transition towards Mobile Engagement

By August 28, 2013

Companies need to adapt their customer strategies according to how far their customers have moved along the path towards ubiquitous mobile use. However, it appears that the United States is still barely halfway towards a full Mobile Mind Shift.

US consumers have some way to go in terms of their degree of engagement with their mobile devices. This emerges from the data collected by research institute Forrester for its Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI). The Index is based on three main factors which Forrester believes drive engagement with the mobile world – device ownership, frequency of access and diversity of locations.  It enables an estimate of just how urgent it is for a given firm to start offering high-quality services via mobile. Customers are scored on a scale of 1 to 100, indicating how far they are along the road towards shifting their behaviour – and their expectations of companies and brands – in terms of mobile offerings. Forrester’s calculation puts the average MMSI of Americans aged 18 and over at 27.9 out of 100, a score which indicates that the standard US consumer is far from having completed the Mobile Mind Shift.

Measuring the consumer shift towards mobile behaviour

Forrester breaks the US population down into six segments according to their MMSI. The last three segments, representing  the least connected people, account for fully 78% of US adult Internet users, who are apparently just beginning to download mobile apps but do not yet exhibit any clear signs of a real mind shift towards mobile. However, the first three segments, comprising connected and hyper-connected customers who already have high expectations of mobile channels, represent close to a quarter (22%) of the population. Where the index scores a firm’s customers at over 35, Forrester encourages the company to react quickly to respond to its customers’ behavioural shift. If the average score is under 35, the company will have a little more time to build its strategy, but must nevertheless be aware of the fact that their customers are likely to embrace the mobile mind shift sooner rather than later in the coming years.

Four strategies for adapting to the ‘mobile mind shift’

Forrester advises companies to assess their own capabilities by measuring the frequency and quality of their interactions with customers and then develop strategies accordingly. One strategy, for a company that has relatively few, but high-quality, customer interactions, is to find a way to get customers to connect more frequently. The example here is Nike, whose customers buy the brand’s products perhaps a couple of times a year, but may engage with Nike sports apps on a daily basis. A second, quite similar, strategy is that of brands such as Apple and Starbucks, which have frequent – and highly positive – customer interactions but create even more value by using mobile apps to develop customer relations. A different strategy is required however where a firm has little customer interaction and the experience is not generally an upbeat one – often the case with insurance companies, for instance. In this case, the company will need to rethink its services and its partnerships. The fourth case – the least comfortable situation – is when a company provides frequent interactions and the customer experience is generally poor. Forrester advises such firms to use mobile apps to engender more positive interactions and so create a better overall experience for their customers.

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