Recent economic woes have eliminated many marketers' ability to invest in emerging media. Still, aggressive mobile-marketing firms and major retailers are introducing programs meant to entice wary consumers this holiday season. One such program is the attempt to create yet another shopping holiday, Mobile Tuesday.
Mobigosee, a mobile-marketing firm, is moving forward with the launch of Mobile Tuesday on Dec. 2, despite the loss of major marketing partners whose budgets have been decimated by the recession. The concept was born out of research showing that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a slow shopping day, as are many Tuesdays throughout the year, said Tanya Penman, founder-CEO of Mobigosee. Armed with that knowledge, the firm aims to encourage shopping with a mobile circular of sorts every Tuesday. An advertising campaign, including radio and outdoor media, will support the launch in 10 cities, in addition to an online presence.
Plans for Mobile Tuesday were well under way earlier this fall, with a major car company, as well as several well-known luxury brands and retailers signed on, Ms. Penman said. But those companies began pulling the plug on the program in September, putting off plans until next year.
Now Ms. Penman is attempting to launch Mobile Tuesday with just three marketers onboard: McDonald's, Finish Line and RedTag. The company is hoping to attract additional retailers with couponing strategies, in which Mobigosee is paid only when the mobile coupons are redeemed.
"Mobile is the natural next generation of shopping," Ms. Penman said. "We thought about waiting until next year, but ... our belief is there's a demand." She cited the rollout of mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone 3G, BlackBerry's Bold and HTC's G1, as well as consumers' desire for coupons and deals this holiday season.
So far, 18,000 people have signed up for Mobile Tuesday updates, most through sites that leak Black Friday deals. Ms. Penman said the goal had been 5,000.
With plenty of numbers to support the argument for mobile marketing—there are 259 million wireless lines in the U.S., 69% of which are used for at least one data service, according to Nielsen Mobile—several major retailers also embarking on their own mobile campaigns.
Retailers including Gap and Sears are promoting mobile programs, believing they're an important tactic to reach harried and increasingly tech-savvy consumers during the holidays.
Gap created a free iPhone application that allows consumers to put together an outfit and then generate a gift list of the items. "With our target audience being that 25- to 35-year-old, we wanted to engage our customer where they're playing and really be where they are," said Ivy Ross, exec VP-Gap marketing.
JCPenney is using a WAP site to promote popular gifts and will be sending text-message alerts about sales. And Sears is pushing into the space with its first WAP site, sears2go.com. The site launched in November as a way to appeal to busy shoppers. Kmart, which is also owned by Sears Holdings, is a sponsor of the VH1 WAP site for the top 40 music videos of 2008.
"Even though you might not have the marketing spend that you'd like, you have to be sure you're approaching things from a multichannel perspective," said Tom Aiello, divisional VP-public relations at Sears Holdings. "We felt it was important to have a presence there so we could really engage consumers and get them used to engaging Sears and Kmart through those different channels."
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Contributing: Rita Chang