Deputy editor Chitra Narayanan
Noticed how every time you try to book tickets on yatra.com, the travel site urges you to install its mobile app, and earn a few additional discounts? Ditto on a host of other websites, such as Ola Cabs. Insidiously, digital marketers are changing your behaviour and shopping patterns.
Now, Myntra and Flipkart are taking it to the next level. They are closing down their mobile sites, forcing you to install apps and buy only through them. Reportedly, both are also contemplating ditching their desktop websites so that you do business with them only through mobile apps. That's not a nudge but a very big, deliberate prod to the consumer to make the shift quickly. So much so that at a recent digital marketing conference, Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President at Adobe Systems, citing Flipkart's example, exclaimed, "We have heard of mobile-first countries, but India could soon become a mobile-only country!"
We keep hearing about how marketers are being kept on their toes thanks to rapid shifts in consumer behaviour. But it looks like new-age digital marketers are grabbing the steering wheel firmly from the consumer and navigating them to places where they want the customer to go.
Just look around and you can see countless examples. Indigo has practically forced all its passengers to do web check-in before reporting to the airport. This helps the airline save time during the check-in process and maintain its 'on-time' performance. Indigo bombards you with text messages to arrive early at the airport (much needed in a country where punctuality is an alien word), to web check in, and hustles you into the aircraft.
In his book Hooked, habit guru (okay, that's a term I coined) Nir Eyal talks about the ways marketers can motivate and manipulate consumers. His 'Hook Model' is a four-step process that subtly encourages and influences customer behaviour. If you just surf through the sessions at the Habit Summit (habitsummit.com), what emerges is that marketers are really honing the psychology of persuasion as they use neuromarketing to design behaviour change. Basically, mind games are becoming big.
But coming back to the mobile phone using behaviour - how does it help marketers? Custora's E-Commerce Pulse Mobile Report shows that when a user surfs an e-commerce store from a smartphone, the conversion to a purchase is far lower than from a desktop. Smaller screen size, location of shopper and the performance of the network or mobile device are inhibiting factors in conversion.
And yet, Flipkart and Myntra are relentlessly moving to a mobile app store. Why? Well, this way, they can fling more personalised offers at you. By shutting down the mobile websites and forcing the consumer to download the app, the e-commerce store is always connected to the consumer. Yes, you can switch off notifications, but chances are not everybody will.
If you look around, everybody is persuading you onto the mobile app route - Facebook nags you so much to download the Messenger app that you finally relent and do it. Next thing you know, it has added a call button to the app. Next you hear that they are working on unbundling the call and might start a separate app for that. Soon you will have one more FB app on your phone. Then you will get into the habit of calling through the FB app…
Now, who was it who said old habits die hard? The new-age marketer is teaching you new habits every single day!