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As I read about Nike’s MSI and the launch of its Making app, I can’t help make the connection with Havas Media’s MBI, which I wrote about recently.

Simply put, the MBI (Meaningful Brand Index) measures consumers’ perception of a brand’s influence on society, environment, economy, health and emotional wellbeing. And as the latest research shows, the more positive impact a company is seen having on consumers’ lives, the more fans they will garner nowadays.

That’s where Nike comes in as it seeks to apply science to the art of supporting a cause dear to our (consumers’) hearts: protection of the environment.

The MSI (Materials Sustainability Index), Nike tell us, is the result of 7 years of effort spent by the corporation on cataloging ‘the best publicly disclosed information related to the environmental impacts of materials’.

As Nike opens up its MSI through its Making app to all apparel designers and creators out there, open-source style, it simply seeks to reinforce its long-term commitment to protecting our environment. That’s got to help the brand perception too…

Don’t get me wrong – Nike’s eco-friendly initiatives are commendable (and have delivered results e.g. their 2010 World Cup soccer jerseys recycled from plastic water bottles). However, the cynic in me can’t help wonder what the take up of this app will really be, and how meaningful and long-term an impact it will have on our environment.

The lack of immediate tangible results or visibility on how involved Nike will be long term in supporting designers who take on the green challenge, is I guess what makes me question how effective the app is going to be. Here is to hoping this is not just a marketing ploy.

For now, I will let you form your own opinion on what Nike’s long term goal may be as you watch the sexy video they released just over a year ago, and the somewhat more down-to-earth video on the making of the app released earlier this month.

Can you really take the marketer out of the do gooder?

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The Chinese most definitely are according to GroupM Interaction’s latest survey of close to 1000 respondents.

Some of the most striking results, which I couldn’t help but compare myself to, include:

– 80% of respondents admit sleeping with their phones at arm’s reach (tick);
– 73% of smartphone users wake up to their phone alarm (tick), increasingly making watches a thing of the past (tick);
– 95% use their phones just before bedtime at the ’25th hour’ (er, tick);
– 66% ended a relationship by mobile – making this form of breakup otherwise known as a digital dump – (thankfully not a tick!). On the same note, sadly, according to other non-China specific surveys, most connected users would rather leave their spouses than their iPads at home when they go on holiday…

A quick poll to see if you too are guilty of the above sins! Say yes for those of you who tick 4 or more of the above behaviours.

Finally, we learn that in February this year China overtook the US as the world’s largest smartphone market.

With this in mind, marketers the world over ought to play closer attention to both trending and emerging consumer mobile usage behaviours in that part of the world. Watch, learn and get their marketing ready ahead of these behaviours hitting their shores.

More survey results can be viewed here:

I have just come across yet more insightful research from our Google friends, which the advertising types amongst us will no doubt find useful.

This time the research focuses on mobile searches – specifically, mobile user search behaviours and the correlation of mobile searches with online and offline conversions.

You can view the full Mobile Search Moments study here – for now, I just wanted to point out a couple of striking stats.

First – their research shows that a staggering 77% of mobile searches happen at home or work (i.e. a location likely to have a PC), with only 17% on the go.

This surprised me at first as I had thought until now that smartphones were used for searching mainly on the move (i.e. when no PC is available). Then I remembered my own behavior at home: since trading my old phone for an iPhone 5, my smartphone has fast become my #1 device of choice for initiating all sort of activities from the comfort of my sofa including checking emails, reading online articles, playing games and … searching.

The study goes on by explaining that the key reason for users preferring their mobile phone over a tablet or PC when searching at home is the convenience and speed it offers. A respondent explains: “It was easier on the mobile device as I didn’t have to get up to turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up”. I could indeed have said this myself to justify my own behavior.

One other key insight that stuck with me is how powerful a conversion tool mobile is:

Not only 3 out of 4 mobile searches trigger follow up actions (e.g. visiting a retailer’s site, sharing the info you have found etc.), but also – and most importantly – 55% of purchase-related conversions (i.e. store visit, phone call or purchase) occur within one hour of the initial mobile search, with that number increasing to 81% within 5 hours.

As the ultimate “always on, anywhere anytime’’ companion device, the ever increasing take up of smartphones and with both a purchase intent and conversions this high, it is easy to see why smartphone users need to be at the top of any marketer’s priority list (sadly not always the case).

And for the time-poor amongst us, the below infographic sums up all other key insights for future reference – Thank you Google!

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 4.22.28 PM

Lately I have been reading about connected homes and connected cars. Whilst I am (very) excited at the prospect of experiencing both in the not-so-distant future, it left me wondering about what connected stores might look like also a few years from now.

3 players stick out for me when it comes to transforming the in-store experience through the integration of information and communications technologies.

All 3 are working hard to merge the bricks-and-mortar and virtual shopping experiences into one effortless, consistent and personalised experience. This they achieve not only through a selective use of technologies (mobile or other), but also by observing their customers’ shopping behaviours and adapting the in-store experience accordingly.

According to Burberry –

For Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of the British luxury fashion brand, the shop of the future integrates behaviours that are inherent to the online shopping experience into the in-store experience.

And so in the same way as customers shop online from the comfort of their sofa at home, customers in its London flagship store are shown to a sofa at point of purchase, where they are presented with a swipe machine that swiftly computes their purchase.

Christopher Bailey commenting on the launch of the new store design in 2012 explained: “We designed it like that because when you’re shopping at home online, you are on the sofa with your credit card. You don’t stand up and queue.”

Other examples of the “digitalization” of Burberry’s largest store include embedding clothes with RFID-enabled chips that can be read by the fitting rooms mirrors, triggering images and videos of the selected garment in catwalk shows or how it was made. Kitting out the store with high-speed lifts to fast track the time it takes for staff to check an item’s availability is one other (this check is instant online).

According to Starbucks –

For Howard Schultz, the CEO of the coffee house chain, the store of the future will enable a one-to-one relationship between the brand and its customers through the personalization of the service they receive as they walk into the store.

As he explained in a recent interview with USA Today, customers with a history of in-store mobile payments made through the Starbucks app could in future be presented with their usual favorite drink as they are geo-located and id’ed the moment they step through the door – without having to order.

According to GAP –

For the high-street fashion retailer, the store of the future reconciles the rise of the omni-channel shopper with the company’s ability to connect demand (web, mobile or offline) to supply (wherever it might be also) through its backend systems. This has led the retailer to start trialing the find in-store and reserve-in store features on its shopping app.

The app geo-locates you and flags the nearest stores. By connecting to the store inventories in real-time, it shows you the inventory level for a given item and ultimately gives you the ability to find and buy the item you pre-shopped online in a store of your choice.

As you go online to shop with GAP, you spot an item you like, you locate it in a store near by and simply reserve it. The item is held for you until the next business day for you to try in store, build a transaction and possibly a whole outfit around it. Unlike pick-up in-store, it encourages customers to stick around as they try things on and build a connection with the staff and brand.

In both scenarios, the shopping experience starts online and leads to an offline transaction.

No doubt there are more examples in the same vein (feel free to share those you find inspiring!). Burberry and Starbucks however are ones to watch: they have famously (and successfully) broken new grounds when it comes to integrating digital media and platforms into their marketing efforts. And they are constantly looking for new ways to market their products and optimise the customer experience.

With this in mind, any one who ever thought the bricks-and-mortar shops would soon be a thing of the past may want to have a rethink. A converted online shopper myself, I could even be tempted to go back in-store.

I recently commmented on most Australian brands not leveraging mobile internet consumption and smartphone uptake. I have just come across some more stats and predictions here, which if turned out to be true will only contribute to making the gap between marketers’ mobile uptake and consumer mobile usage wider. If brands needed more evidence that mobile is fast becoming a key comms and sales channel that can no longer be ignored well here it is…time to get serious and invest into it!

Just read about Woolies’ latest effort with its ”bus shops”.

Although it is a commendable effort on Woolies’ part, it is nothing new – Tesco did this first very successfully in Korea by bringing its stores to the people in the subway:

It is encouraging though to see that Aussie retailers are investing into m-commerce.

Yet more pretty damning evidence here. Wake up Australia!

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