December 17, 2014

2014 In Review: Mobile

This is a question I fielded on Twitter.

Question: Isn't the future all about mobile? And if the future is about mobile, then shouldn't catalogers and retailers immediately pivot, focusing on the future, prioritizing what is important over what mattered in the past?

Averages are greatly distorting the importance of mobile. Look at this chart from Business Insider (click here please).
  • More than 50% of the content consumed by those age 16-24 come from mobile devices.
  • Maybe 30% of the content consumed by those age 45-54 come from mobile devices.
  • Less than 5% of the content consumed by those age 65-74 come from mobile devices.
What does this mean?

Well, mobile is a reflection of your core customer. If you have no mobile presence, maybe it is because you have no customers under the age of 40? In fact, that's probably the reason you don't have a mobile presence.

Mobile is directly correlated with demographics / generational shifts.

So if you get 9% of your traffic from a mobile device, and you mail catalogs, you cannot possibly be "mobile first". You'll bankrupt yourself in the short-term. And in the long-term (probably 15 years), without a viable strategy for younger customers, you'll bankrupt yourself. So that's fun to think about.

And if you get 59% of your traffic from mobile devices, you have a completely different challenge ... the future is going to change, it's moving right under your feet ... and is risky. You are "mobile first", but mobile is in the top of the first inning.

If you are a retail brand with a customer base > age 45, well, being "mobile first" is a sure way to harm sales even further. Your customer doesn't view mobile as the number one component of a content strategy. Neither should you. This is why I continually preach a merchandise gospel to most businesses - the demographics simply demand priority of merchandise over channels, especially among customers age 55 and up.