Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mobile marketing can manifest in many forms

ABOUT a decade ago, not many would have imagined that a little palm-sized gadget would become the symbol of ubiquity across India . Yet today, every
fourth Ram, Sita and Hari — or about 25% of India —flaunts a mobile phone. Indeed, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the cell phone mania has spread like a virus. Today, as the mobile technology
readies for another leap, the gadget’s utilitarian virtues and its involvement in consumers’ lives will get a boost in several ways. One such area is that of m-commerce — use of the phone as a payment device for travel ticketing, utility services, merchant payments , P2P transactions and even banking. Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea Cellular , alluded to the fact that though the mobile is referred to as the 3rd screen after TV and computers, at 4 billion units, it has, in fact, become the biggest screen in terms of volumes worldwide, ahead of TV (1.6 billion units) and PCs (800 million units). He added that mobiles will see usage developing for microfinance payments , m-banking and mobile money transfer, and pointed out that the mobile is used for transactions as varied as buying groceries and sending remittances in the Philippines. Recently, Idea and UAEbased Etisalat have tied up for what it claims to be the first live trial of mobile money transfer in India. While brands like Tata Sumo and Yamaha have started using mobile advertising on Yahoo! The security — or the perceived lack of it, rather — surrounding mobile transactions is the biggest hurdle in m-banking , feels Vijay Ramchandran, country marketing director – global consumer group, Citibank India. Also, since it’s a small screen, filling out information might be a problem for users. So the handset will have to facilitate simplicity of interface. Another concern pertains to compatibility of handsets — adoption will be dependent to a great extent on the capability of different types of handsets to access services. Eventually, though, Ramchandran believes that m-commerce will grow to the size of internet commerce. According to Saleem Mobhani, COO, Hungama Mobile, service operators are important links in taking mobile marketing to the next level. “The only entity that knows what the customer is doing is the telco. Only he knows what’s contextual and relevant to consumers,” he said. Viren Popli, senior vice-president & head – mobile entertainment, Star India, believes that for mobile marketing to pick up, the digital medium itself has to improve in leaps and bounds. “We have to first start spending on running a better website. Once a consumer clicks and comes on to a site, what then? If the consumer is not happy with what he sees it will be a complete turn-off ,” Popli argued.


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