The role of mobile in the customer journey; just another device or game changer?

Published on 04 06 2019

Blog Jelle Quak – Director Center of Expertise

On May 16th, DVJ Insights attended the Spring Seminar ‘Online search behaviour’ of the Customer Insights Center through the partnership DVJ Insights has with the University of Groningen. The theme: ‘Online search behaviour’. The Customer Insights Center aims to bring scientific knowledge about customers together with the practice of leading companies. This is directly in line with one of the fundamental principles of DVJ Insights; applying scientific insights into the practice of market research in order to be able to make better, more informed statements about our client’s issues. All to try to narrow the gap between science and practice.

False contradiction

However, there seemed to be a gap between science and practice during the seminar. Not surprising, it was about the use of mobile. Whereas science, this time represented by the leaving director Prof. Peter Verhoef, took the position that “mobile is just another device”, Nathalie Peters represented the voice of practice with Facebook Corp’s adage; “If you are not thinking mobile first, you already lost.”

Although the tenor after the seminar had not been able to immediately reinforce feelings of unity between science and practice, I think there has been a false contradiction this afternoon. Whereas scientific insights focused primarily on the role of mobile as part of the entire ecosystem of online and offline information search behaviour in the Customer Journey, practice focused in particular on how information within mobile devices should be developed in a fundamentally different way to stay in tune with the way people consume content. As far as I am concerned, despite their apparent contradiction, both propositions can perfectly coexist, and from both perspectives interesting insights have been shared that are relevant to every marketer, web analyst or customer journey expert.

Learnings from the afternoon

The research that Peter Verhoef discussed in detail, partly conducted by himself, had – in addition to attractive marketing terminology such as the ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) effect, and showrooming vs. webrooming – some interesting and surprising insights. Obtained based on large-scale, survey-based Customer Journey research across many categories and over several years. Based on this study, 5 segments were identified, with an average of 3 touch points during the Customer Journey. The segments range from genuine Touch Point Enthusiasts for whom the online and offline orientation process is worth almost more than the final purchase or product satisfaction, up to the Pragmatic Store Shoppers who complete both the orientation and purchasing process with an efficient store visit. This group also proved to be substantial in this digital age, with a share of around 20%. What’s also striking is that the shifts within these groups seem to be very limited over time, and the only segment that seems to be declining in size is the driven Online Research Shopper. In that sense, we cannot speak of a revolution within the Customer Journey as a result of the rise of mobile.

1.7 seconds

As part of his change of direction, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that communication is moving away from the ‘digital town square, to the living room’. This means that people share less content in public, but they increasingly continue to do so in more closed (and preferably well-protected) communities. In agreement, Nathalie Peters indicates that messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger) is experiencing the greatest growth by far. In relation to the creation of (mobile) content, it was striking that 72% of the millennials never use their smartphone horizontally, and you have 1.7 seconds on average to attract the attention of the consumer. This has enormous implications for the development of relevant mobile video content, especially if you take into account that 50% of advertising content on social media is based on TV commercials. In addition, Facebook Corp itself indicates that high quality advertisements (how this is determined was not clear) get a positive rating in their Ad Auction System.

Enough reason for every marketer, campaign manager or media planner to take a very critical look at the creative strategy for social. Simply re-using or cutting back TV content doesn’t do justice to the fundamentally different way content is consumed on mobile devices.

Speaking the same language

Two fascinating stories supported by figures and told by authorities in the field. And where it initially seemed as if the results were contradictory, they are in perfect harmony. We see this more often in the dynamics between science and practice; there is a lot more that binds them than it would initially seem. You just have to put some effort in.