Analyzing The Digital Consumer For 2012 Mobile Success

As retailers finalize cross-channel marketing plans and investments for 2012, most have considered the benefits of mobile strategies, such as short message service (SMS), apps, mobile-optimized sites and quick response (QR) codes. New research from InsightExpress provides marketers with detailed metrics regarding smartphone usage, mobile subscriber behaviors and how retailers can optimize mobile marketing to increase engagement.

The company’s “4Q2011 Digital Consumer Portrait” indicates that smartphone penetration has increased consistently throughout the year. Currently, 41% of consumers own smartphones, according to InsightExpress research. To optimize mobile marketing initiatives, retailers must better understand this audience and its primary behaviors.

In a special Q&A, Joy Liuzzo, VP and Director of InsightExpress, shares key findings from the report, including the demographics and psychographics of smartphone subscribers, and how retailers can optimize QR code campaigns in-store and within print advertisements.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP):The “4Q2011 Digital Consumer Portrait” explains that 33% of smartphone subscribers participate in six or more activities on their devices. What are they?


Joy Liuzzo: These behaviors start with the basics, such as text messaging (87%) and email (79%). Then they shift to using the mobile Internet (76%), checking weather (73%), playing games (60%), updating social networks (59%), using applications (55%) and taking pictures (49%). The results display a long tail of additional behaviors from these smartphone owners.

RTP: Are there any significant findings from the holiday season regarding mobile that you’d like to share?

Liuzzo: During our research, we found that smartphone owners use their mobile devices heavily for holiday shopping. For example, 38% of smartphone users made a purchase via their devices this past Thanksgiving Day. On Black Friday, 67% made a purchase while 52% and 36% made purchases on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

These statistics are not necessarily a surprise, considering how engaged consumers are with their devices. But what is surprising is that they are less likely to be going into a store and are more inclined to do their shopping on a computer, mobile or tablet device.

RTP: What are the top behaviors of all mobile consumers, in addition to smartphone subscribers?

Liuzzo: Mobile is still, at heart, a communication device. Texting is the top activity of all mobile users, besides making phone calls. After that, taking and sending pictures is the next most popular activity.

RTP: Based on InsightExpress research, which company is the current leader in the smartphone market?

Liuzzo: Android is the leader when just looking at number of subscribers. The company has reached this status by offering a number of different phone designs and price points with all mobile carriers. This tactic has done a few things for the marketplace: First, by bringing down the price points, Android brought the smartphone to the masses. Secondly, because the smartphone is becoming a ‘common phone,’ we are seeing the demographics and usage of this technology becoming more diverse.

RTP: How are mobile subscribers currently responding to QR codes?

Liuzzo: More than 50% of smartphone owners can identify a QR code accurately, while 40% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code at some point. Few shoppers are scanning these codes from outdoor advertisements or even TV and films; they are more likely to scan them in a print environment, in store from a shelf, or from a product they purchased.

RTP: What are some best practices in terms of QR code design, placement and usage? How can retailers optimize consumer engagement through this medium?

Liuzzo: InsightExpress tracked and observed QR code usage in print and determined some best practices for retailers.

Some top tips include:

  • Place the QR code in a natural “eye flow.”  The power spot is on the left side of a printed message, since people read from left to right. For more impact, place the code near the message’s most important point.
  • Give the QR code a bit of white space around it, but not too much; it needs a bit of attention drawn to it so it doesn’t blend in, but it cannot appear to be isolated completely from the rest of the message.
  • Inform consumers of the reward or incentive they will receive for using the QR code. Although this strategy seems obvious, InsightExpress sees a lot of campaigns that don’t tell consumers what to expect. Retailers also must make sure the text is short. People are less likely to read long paragraphs of text in an advertisement or on signage.
  • Integrate the QR code into the advertisement or signage. It has to appear to belong, not treated as an afterthought and placed in any available spot.

Overall, retailers need to be aware that QR code placement in-store will make a huge difference on how consumers respond to these initiatives. For example, featuring a QR code in a random location will not produce as much interaction as placing it somewhere with more context: For example, signage with a QR code that promotes outfits that coordinate with a specific shoe design should be placed next to the shoe display, not an unrelated location.

RTP: As retailers gear up for 2012, what can they expect regarding consumers’ in-store usage of mobile phones? How can retailers adapt to these behaviors and create an engaging cross-channel strategy?

Liuzzo: Retailers are going to see in-store usage of mobile phones increase during 2012. Given the way that mobile has evolved, even in 2011 alone, it will be surprising to see what new ways consumers will be using their devices in store. 

Retailers should think of mobile as a chain connecting all other channels, including email communications, online browsing and in-store purchasing. All of these touch points are influenced by mobile. Mobile also offers retailers additional connections and conversation opportunities with consumers.  Mobile is not a channel or isolated experience; Therefore, retailers should not treat their mobile strategies as such.   

­­Joy Liuzzo, VP of InsightExpress, is responsible for the strategic development and management of mobile advertising measurement. She also is responsible for custom research efforts across InsightExpress; works closely with Product Development on the creation of all mobile research solutions; oversees the company’s key external partnerships and affiliations within the mobile space; and sets the direction for all mobile strategy.

Over the last five years, Liuzzo has presented at more than 40 industry events, educating the marketplace on the effectiveness of mobile advertising, best practices and consumer trends. She has been interviewed in a number of publications, including Mobile Marketer, MediaPost, Forbes, AdAge, Mobile Beyond, ClickZ and Marketing Sherpa. Liuzzo is 2011 North American Member of the Mobile Marketing Association and was recognized by Mobile Marketer as one of the 2010 Mobile Women to Watch.

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