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The Mobile Male

  |  January 26, 2012   |  Comments

Targeting female mobile users at the expense of male users could be a big mistake.

Everywhere we look, our industry seems to be telling us that when it comes to mobile marketing, women are the consumers to reach. Mobile Marketer's Mobile Outlook 2012 study asserts that female consumers are poised to embrace their smartphones for more than just communicating with family and friends. Last week The Wall Street Journal blogged that women and older mobile users are currently underserved by mobile advertising globally. Advertisers, they reported, are missing out on an opportunity to target female mobile users.

Since mobile usage among women is on the rise, and women make the majority of the purchasing decisions, it's natural to view them as a key target mobile market. And yes, female mobile users represent a viable market. To shift one's focus and begin targeting them at the expense of male users, however, might be a mistake.

The degree to which male consumers are embracing mobile ads became evident last year. Prior to Thanksgiving, studies were indicating 50 percent of men planned to make some of their holiday purchases by smartphone as a way to capitalize on pre-holiday deals without having to brave the crowds.

A new study from InsightExpress suggests male smartphone users - particularly those aged 18 to 29 - continue to shop by phone, and could make it a behavioral priority in 2012. The real surprise, though, is that besides spending more time shopping on their phones, they're putting mobile above other methods of shopping as well. The report found that 32 percent of these consumers rely on their mobile phones to make purchases rather than going online or in-store. Only 12 percent of women in the same age group do the same.

A Different Mindset Toward Mobile Ads

If a consumer is predisposed to shopping via mobile phone, it stands to reason that he'll pay some mind to mobile advertising. Sure enough, InsightExpress found men are both aware of seeing mobile ads and more likely to consider them "new and different" when compared with traditional ads and digital ads online. Couple that mindset with ad messaging that provides value to the consumer and men are apt to pay even more attention. Here are a few of the best ways to reach the mobile male this year.

  1. Consider including product prices in your mobile ads. When feasible, this approach is well worth testing. Given that 59 percent of men are using their mobile phones to seek out better prices on the items they're interested in purchasing, an ad that provides as much product information and special pricing offers as possible can help drive mobile conversions - particularly when consumers are searching for product information while in-store.
  2. Target ads locally. InsightExpress says 65 percent of young males have searched for a product in a nearby store while they're on the go. It's one of the most common activities among mobile users, and one that stands to produce the most conversions (in last year's Google and Ipsos OTX smartphone user study, researchers found 88 percent of mobile adults take action within a day of searching for local information on their phones).
  3. Incorporate QR codes into your campaigns. The concept of scanning a QR code with one's mobile phone to attain additional product information might seem as though it should be foreign to most consumers. In fact, not only are consumers of all genders growing comfortable with the action, they're already programmed to make it. Research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey recently reported that half of all smartphone users have already scanned a QR code, mostly because they were curious about what would happen when they did (46 percent of those consumers polled named this as their motivation, compared with the 41 percent that were seeking additional company, product, or deal information).

    The action doesn't differ so much from using one's phone to take a photograph. When you consider that 41 percent of young males use their phones for this purpose, and that they're generally interested in gathering information, it seems as though scanning a QR code to inform a product purchase may be a natural extension of men's existing mobile behavior.

Mobile marketing in 2012 won't be a war of the sexes. At the end of the day, it isn't about which gender is more favorable to marketers eager to make sales through the mobile channel; it's about recognizing that both have potential, and identifying exactly where that potential lies.

In this way, media planners and buyers will be prepared to address the needs of all of their consumers, in all of their varied campaigns. Be sure to check back next week for a look at the female mobile user and unique strategies for how to reach her.

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Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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