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Loyalty, social emerging mobile opportunities for retailers

May 16, 2011

Mobile helps Target connect with consumers

Retailers are adopting mobile strategies that go beyond simply trying to drive mobile commerce, with loyalty, engagement and relationship building a significant focus for many.

While driving transactions is an important goal of mobile marketing, the fact that consumers carry around mobile devices all the time and, increasingly, these devices offering immersive media experiences, makes them important marketing tools. Executives from several retailers and brands offering products and services to consumers who spoke last week at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2011 conference May 12 in New York provided important insight into how brands are using mobile to connect with consumers.

“Mobile is really the ultimate connector for us,” said Dan Fine, director of digital experience at Target, Minneapolis, MN, at the conference organized by Mobile Commerce Daily. “If you think about the mobile device, it’s about being wherever your consumer is and that becomes connected – and that is really powerful.”

Target is using mobile to help make it easy for consumers to get done what they need to get done, Mr. Fine said.

HSN’s overall mobile marketing strategy is driven by the fact that mobile devices are highly personalized, per Ed Deutscher, director of technology at, during a presentation at the conference.

Mr. Deutscher pointed to HSN’s extensive use of video in mobile and how this has helped make mobile the brand’s fastest growing channel. The HSN iPad application, for example, enables users to watch live streaming video, 15 channels of category specific content as well as create their own customized channels.

“We’re looking for ways to engage with consumers via mobile and providing the HSN experience wherever they want,” he said.

“We want to use our mobile apps as an engagement tool but, if at the end of the day, consumers are compelled to buy, that’s great.”

Mobile integrates with loyalty
Going forward, St. Petersburg, FL-based HSN is looking to social media to help it enhance its efforts to drive engagement and customer activation in mobile.

“We truly believe there is an opportunity in mobile for us to find ways to group customers into affinity groups where they can take advantage of sharing content such as product information and reviews,” Mr. Deutscher said.

Sunkist’s Daily Diet app.

Los Angeles-based citrus cooperative  Sunkist doesn’t expect to get into mobile commerce any time soon because of the medium’s limitations when it comes to delivering the tactile experience that consumers look for when they are buying citrus fruits.

However, Sunkist does have an active mobile program that focuses on building loyalty, engagement and awareness.

Sunkist is using mobile to help educate consumers about the many uses of citrus fruit. This includes providing education, usage tips and nutrition information via SMS, a daily diet app and a mobile Web site. The brand promotes the program in-store on its fruit display units.

Education tool
“We are trying to teach people to let them know that there are a ton of uses for lemons,” said Julie DeWolf, director of retail marketing at Sunkist.

Loyalty and building new relationships are also key elements in restaurant chain Carrabba’s Italian Grill’s mobile strategy.

The chain has a partnership with Foursquare to help it build relationships with regular customers by offering rewards based on how many times they visit a specific location.

“For customers who are coming in two or three times a week, the manager should know them and our program with Foursquare helps because it is a conversation starter,” said Jamie Miller, brand marketing manager of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, during the Mcommerce Summit.

The chain also uses SMS to help it build engagement by sending messages that ask customers questions such as what they want to see at the restaurant and their favorite dishes.

In addition, Carrabba’s is using its loyalty program to engage with customers and tell them what is happening in the mobile space.

Tampa, FL-based Carrabba’s is also looking for more ways to bring together its loyalty and mobile efforts.

“The next logical step for us is to involve more CRM and integrate with the needs of consumers in the mobile space,” Mr. Miller said. “We’re already doing a excellent job of this in the online space, but evolving it for the mobile space is the next logical step.”

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