This past week I was in Fürth, Germany meeting with Adidas. They, like many other large brands, have noticed major shifts in their consumer behavior. Mobile web has become a dominant Internet experience. Apps have gotten out of control, and the attention span of consumers has gone drastically down (less than that of a goldfish, studies show).
As I met with heads of various business units to discuss consumer behavior and a mobile-first mindset shift, one things was blatantly absent: the word millennial. At some point in the last 365 days, the behavior of all cohorts has shifted to mimic that of the early-adopting millennial crowd. All groups are mobile-first, not just millennials.
It doesn’t take a Quantcast analysis to notice that online behavior of all age groups has made huge shifts to mobile. Since 2013, the mobile web share of all web traffic globally has doubled to nearly 20%. E-commerce and e-services retailers, though, have seen even larger increases, with mobile web comprising of more than 50% of their total visitors.
Every time I meet with another prospective client, we discuss their individual behavior, the behavior of their kids, and the behavior of their parents. Nine times out of 10, they instantly see the future of communication for businesses aligning directly with that of consumers. Millennials are still an incredibly unique group, but their adoption (if not a death grip) of mobile has created waves through all other consumer groups. The world is a mobile place now, and consumers are no longer searching for “shoes,” they’re searching for “shoes near me.”
Human to Human
If we dive even deeper into the mobile-first consumer shift, it’s evident that text messaging has created a new consumer with new expectations. Texts are short, information-filled, multimedia experiences between two people. This behavior has become an expectation, and more than 97% of all mobile device users send at least one text message per day. To put it into perspective, texting is “owned” by nobody, yet it has a 97% market share with the 7 billion mobile phones on Earth. Facebook, by contrast, has just 1 billion users, a significantly lower amount than texting.
In a scenario where two people meet for the first time, there is no question of, “Do you text?” They simply exchange numbers and begin texting. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, etc., on the other hand, don’t enjoy such ubiquity. Sure, there are pockets where those services are prevalent, but brands with global reach such as Adidas, Nike, Volkswagen, Coca Cola, etc., don’t have the resources to fragment their communication channels into 1,000 different offerings. Text messaging is global and works with nearly every consumer without having to ask, “Do you text?”
This massive adoption of person-to-person technology has created a new era in communication with brands called H2H, or human-to-human. The expectation of consumers is that, if they text a phone number, somebody will reply. Not a robot. Not an automated message. They expect a human to read their text, and reply to it. However, this technology has been all but absent from enterprises. Despite the absence, more than 70% of all consumers polled reveal that they’d rather text a company than call them, even when calling potentially had zero hold time.
The Road Ahead
Desktops for everyday consumers will be all but relics of the past. For work, the machines will continue to offer a better, more-powerful device for productivity, but mobile will continue to dominate the world outside of offices. Devices will get larger, then smaller, then larger again, but the activity done on mobile will continue to be H2H. From selfies on Snapshat, to sending money on Venmo, texting a photo of a beautiful sunset, or a Facebook message to a former schoolmate, H2H will overshadow all other online activity.
Purchases using mobile devices with RFID and NFC will keep growing, receipts will become texts and push notifications, and apps with specific purposes related to mobile such as Uber and Luxe will become commonplace.
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