Based on responses from 20 major marketers in China – representing brands spending nearly $30bn globally on marketing – the survey revealed that tactics and strategy for the medium is due to change dramatically in the next 12 months.
With e-commerce and m-commerce enjoying steeper growth curves in China than anywhere else in the world, driving consumers to purchase (either online or offline) has become a rising priority for mobile.
Just 26% of respondents said they expect mobile to continue being used solely for marketing and awareness in a year’s time, with almost half of them (48%) saying that mobile is poised to become a cross-purpose marketing and sales channel.
“Clear vision leads to action and this shift in recent months amongst the marketing community of China to leverage mobile as a business driver, beyond marketing and communication is a great signal to start acting upon”, said Nishtha Mehta, Founder and Chief Instigator at CollabCentral Consulting.
The study also revealed that the number of organizations/marketers using China’s popular mobile messaging app like WeChat has risen 305% since the WFA conducted similar research in 2014. In 2015 85% of marketers said they have used mobile messaging as their key marketing communication platform in the past 12 months, up from just 21% in 2014.
The most effective techniques for leveraging online to offline (O2O) sales reported by the respondents were mobile loyalty and gift in-store redemptions and trial coupon redemptions.
However many recognize that they still needed to develop their expertise. Most respondents described themselves as ‘low’ (32%) or ‘mid’ (52%) level in terms of O2O technical sophistication and commitment, highlighting the work left to do to raise capabilities both internally and externally.
Internally much needs to be done to break down silos for O2O to flourish and the vision to come to full life. 74% of respondents identified a lack of integration between departments as a key barrier.
The main external barrier cited by 68% of respondents was the readiness of retail infrastructure to integrate mobile payments or enable coupon redemption.
“If stores do not carry the mobile connected technology required to make O2O work, or are not sufficiently integrated with online or offline environments, then even the best O2O techniques will struggle to get off the ground,” said Matt Green, Senior Global Marketing Manager, WFA. “Closer and faster collaboration between the retailers, marketers and companies such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent is needed.”
Finding the right partners to make O2O work will be a key challenge over the next 12 months. When asked who’s best placed to help you in moving fast towards mobile’s integration with offline (retail store), 64% of respondents said they need to rely on multiple partners working together and 56% said they need a mobile agency or specialist.
“Marketers need to be bold. The speed of change in China is unprecedented. What’s relevant today, might be replaced or outdated tomorrow itself. Move fast, use test and learn cycles to establish best practice principles, and then aim to scale these across brands,” adds Nishtha Mehta.