Wireless Web Now a Big Part of the Consumer Mix

Wireless Web Now a Big Part of the Consumer Mix

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Disappearing are the days when consumers were chained to the home or office PC any time they wanted to access the Web and the freedom wireless mobile Internet access affords all is changing the behavior patterns of those surfing the Web.

As more and more wireless handsets now feature Internet access (along with a variety of additional handheld devices), it’s important for retailers to factor that in to their online and mobile marketing strategy moving forward. Simply stated, consumers today are online…constantly.

According to a recent study by Ipsos Insight, the number of people accessing the Internet via wireless phone has officially passed the number of those connecting to the Web via notebook PCs in some parts of the world.

Ipsos also reported that the all-important 18- to 34-year-old demographic currently makes up the largest group of mobile-phone owners browsing the Web. This demographic also happens to be your most tech-savvy customers and are also the group you need to begin to “speak” to in a language they’ll understand and respond to.

“It is so much a part of their daily activities today, and the new handsets offer an excellent browsing experience. It’s become vital to understand how that demographic is using the devices and bend your business strategy around that,” explained retail analyst Martha Refik. “It’s not a fad, it’s the new way of life for consumers in that age bracket.”

While the numbers globally, and especially in Japan, are very high for those that use wireless handsets to browse the Web (over 50% has been reported) the numbers in North America are slightly less robust. However, wireless Internet access via notebook PCs is currently emerging as the strongest mobile Internet platform in this country. “In the U.S. and Canada, the widespread availability of Wi-Fi and other wireless broadband networks means that more people are using portable PCs to access the Internet outside of the office or home,” the Ipsos report added.

While Web browsing, m-commerce (mobile commerce), and sending or receiving digital images are all gaining in popularity, sending text messages via wireless handset/device remains the most popular activity among consumers. More than one-third of wireless users have sent or received e-mail on their handsets, according to Ipsos.

Mobile Marketing 2.0

While the mobile marketing market is still in its infancy, it’s interesting to note that it appears to be entering a second phase already. The market is clearly starting to hit the fast lane and the news reported in this publication last month that many U.S. convenience stores are beginning to eye mobile phone coupons is worth keeping a close eye on. This new technology is allowing retailers to send text messages that include a bar code consumers can redeem as a discount store coupon. According to a recent report from business and technology news Web site Silicon.com, convenience store retailers are making plans to start using the new system later this year. The mobile handset, on top of everything else it does, is also morphing into an electronic wallet and making that device even more central to the lives of consumers.

With so many of your customers now constantly connected, it’s become even more vital to keep your Web site updated and learn how to market to those consumers that have lived so much of their young lives online.

“You have to be careful not to get too carried away with all this talk of the constantly connected consumer because face-to-face communication skills will still ultimately make or break your business,” Refik added. “But to ignore this growing trend of learning how to market to the on-the-go, connected crowd would also be suicide.”

Other findings of note in the Ipsos report included the fact that more than 50 percent of households with a mobile phone have sent or received a text message, while 37 percent have sent or received e-mail on their wireless handsets. What this clearly tells us is consumers are getting more and more comfortable with this form of communication. yy

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