SoLoMoCo in Asia: Just Another Buzzword?

Will SoLoMoCo be the future of mobile or is it just another buzzword?

Arthur Policarpio, head of Mobext Asia Pacific, says there are many iterations of what SoLoMoCo means.

“But what’s relevant for brands now is that SoLoMoCo presents a holistic way of selling or marketing products in the connected age, where all four elements – social, local, mobile, and commerce – are inter-connected.”

This means brands must create products and shopping experiences that are highly shareable and create locally targeted offers to consumers anytime, anywhere. Their social, local, and mobile strategies should ultimately lead consumers through the purchase funnel and make a profitable business, he explains.

Examples of how SoLoMoCo is executed across the region vary depending on smartphone penetration and cost of mobile Internet offerings in the markets.

For example, the Havas-owned mobile agency ran a campaign with McDonald’s in the Philippines that involves the distribution of mobile coupons during Chinese New Year. The fast-food chain has been distributing paper coupons in the past decade. This year, McDonald’s allowed consumers to download coupons using their mobile devices through a mobile coupon website. The campaign also encouraged sharing via Facebook and coupon distribution through social networks with local call-to-actions to download coupons in stores and other various locations. As a result, mobile coupons showed significantly higher revenue to spend ratio compared to print coupons, which translated into sales for the brand. The success has led McDonald’s Philippines to consider mobile coupons as an integral part of its marketing plans moving forward.

In Singapore, loyalty mobile app Perx partnered with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to trial a group buying execution called “Chop Mob” where consumers could unlock a discount through collective participation. Perx had to generate more than 1,000 stamps across five Coffee Bean outlets in the city within a week. Once it hit the target, every user who bought coffee via the mobile app could claim a free drink from the coffee chain. A Perx exec claimed the campaign has helped increased the chain’s transactions by 50 percent on its app.

KDDI, Japan’s telecom operator, rolled out “Fashion WALL,” a social commerce service for its customers to display and recommend products on their “walls” from actual clothing brands. These walls could be shared on Facebook and Twitter for friends to buy items from the virtual shops to earn points.

Thinking of building a business case for SoLoMoCo? Policarpio shares the following insights.

ClickZ: What does SoLoMoCo mean for businesses?

Arthur Policarpio: It means businesses can connect more deeply to their market, not just in the traditional buyer-seller model. For them to be successful in SoLoMoCo, they must be willing to invite their audience to actively participate in brand building. User-generated content, reviews, and other earned media now have more resonance for consumers than traditional media.

SoLoMoCo has also provided marketers with more touch points to understand their consumers better. They have better listening tools through social media, while new technology now allows them to keep track of consumers’ purchasing history, preferences, and location. Businesses can harness these data points, to build even deeper and more progressive relationships with their loyal consumer base and use predictive technology to acquire new customers through highly-relevant communication.

The paradox is that while businesses now have the ability to reach their audience in an increasing number of touch points, consumers have more power than ever over brands. They can control how they are being advertised to.

SoLoMoCo has also democratized marketing in a way. If small businesses can find the right strategy for social, local, and mobile commerce, they can find footing like the mainstream brands that heavily advertise on traditional media. SoLoMoCo does not require as big a budget as traditional marketing, but if they are smart, they can make more impact.

CZ: How can businesses measure success for SoLoMoCo activations?

AP: SoLoMoCo success is a balance of factors such as social buzz, the size of the community built by and around your brand (including social media communities), and of course, actual revenues.

Having a loyal consumer base is also a great way to measure SoLoMoCo success since your loyal consumers are those who can step up as unofficial brand ambassadors for your brand, not to mention that they will continually choose your brand amidst growing competition, now or in the future.

CZ: What similarities or differences do you observe in mobile and social commerce between Asia and the U.S.?

AP: Asia is unique because of the diversity of its markets. On one hand, you have the mobile-mature markets of Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, where people adapt to technology very fast. People respond very positively to the roll out of innovative mobile campaigns. These are also very highly urbanized cities where people value the convenience that mobile gives.

On the other hand, for developing countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and India, even if the mobile infrastructure is not as advanced, people are very dependent on their mobile devices and they rely on it for basic functions. The populations of these countries are big and widely dispersed. And mobile is the most cost-effective way of reaching these consumers. SoLoMoCo’s success in these markets will depend on the utility it gives consumers.

One key thing from the West that we hope to see more in APAC is a strategic mobile loyalty program. There are still many one-off mobile campaigns here that are not tied to existing loyalty programs of brands. It represents a big missed opportunity in terms of building personal and progressive relationships with their consumers. In the U.S., retailers, fast-food chains and restaurants, and even FMCGs, tie up their marketing efforts with a mobile loyalty program.

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