Mobile Marketers Ring In the Holidays

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The Dude in the Red Suit might still be using the old “making a list and checking it twice” method of holiday planning, but a new study shows that shoppers will lean heavily on their smart phones this season. From booking flights and shopping to keeping track of gifts to buy and taking holiday photos, the holidays are a time of year when cell phones are expected to work overtime.

A new study from U.S. Mobile Consumer Briefing, which was conducted on behalf of The Mobile Marketing Association, shows that a massive 59 percent of mobile customers are planning to let their cell phones do the work over the holiday season, which is a huge increase compare to 2009’s 25 percent. The survey found mobile users employ their phones’ bells and whistles during the holidays for finding stores, locating gifts, getting mall hours and, of course, gift buying. Naturally, phones primarily will be used to compare prices of gifts found at different locations.

And all of this cell phone dependency is good news for marketers. Toys “R” Us, for example, is all set to dial up business using mobile marketing this holiday season. The toy giant, which has seen some of the wind taken out of its sails over the years thanks to Target and Wal-Mart, hopes to bring in iPhone moms and dads by launching a text messaging program to alert shoppers on big sales and new low prices. By joining the Toys “R” Us mailing lists, customers can get coupons sent to their e-mail and the retailer will scan smart phones with the coupons. Toys “R” Us has loaded its locations with special scanners designed to read coupon bar codes on mobile telephones. The stores also can scan and read gift cards off of smart phones.

As we’ve discussed here before, mobile marketing slowly is becoming a channel to be taken seriously. While not everybody has fancy scanners like big chain stores, small business can easily design apps, offer SMS text message deals and cater e-mail marketing to mobile customers. Plus as the avenues expand, mobile marketing could very well be as accessible as social media. Who knows? Maybe even Santa is designing an app of his own.

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