Is Your Business Missing Digital Opportunities? by John McDonnell
You’ve received this article digitally, not in print. What’s more, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be reading these words on your mobile phone. The Center for Generational Kinetics, with a specialty in generational research and solutions, documented the trend to mobile interactions in its 2018 State of Gen Z study.
Consider this tidbit: 95% of Gen Zers have smartphones and 25% of them had smartphones before age 10. I couldn’t even have imagined a mobile phone when I was 10, let alone the idea that I’d be using it for hours each day. But for our inevitably rising tide of younger consumers, being connected 24/7 is the norm. In fact, the study showed that 55% of Gen Zers are on their smartphones five or more hours a day.
My first reaction, being long past the age that would qualify me as Gen Z, is, “Hey, that’s a lot of phone time, kids!” Then I remind myself that they are the future, not me. And I ponder the certainty that if we fail to take into account the reality of mobile communications in the planning and marketing of our businesses now, we will inevitably end up on the non-digital ash heap of history.
And yet I see too many examples of missed digitized opportunities in traditional businesses today. One practical example is apps.
With Gen Z folks living on their smartphones, it’s up to the rest of us to be sure our businesses take their choices into account. Have we designed every interface to work seamlessly on mobile? Are we designing websites, ads, emails, etc. with the awareness that they will be seen more and more on a small screen in someone’s hand? If not, sayonara!
Smartphones enable convenience — a crucial aspect of young consumers’ values. But if we’ve not yet created “an app for that” with most of our businesses, we’re very likely losing ground.
A number of savvy entrepreneurs are exploring apps in my particular business: beverage alcohol. It’s one of the most ancient pursuits on earth, along with farming. Yet even we are going digital in the process of marketing products that existed as far back as 7,000 B.C. with fermented rice in China.
I’ll share five examples of apps emerging around the country. You’ll see that their modern use is beginning to flourish, even in my prehistoric industry.
For example, you may already be aware of the FreshDirect app for having your groceries delivered. Well, the service is now letting you add beer, wine and spirits to your virtual shopping cart.
Vivino, meanwhile, can help if you’re in the aisle of a store shopping for wines, but not sure about what to buy. To supplement your knowledge, just scan a wine label into your phone. You’ll see its rating, review and average price on your screen.
Untappd is a geosocial networking service for mobile phones so users can check in with each other as they’re out drinking beers. Share your location with your friends, letting them know what you’re sipping. Soon you might be together for a friendly meet-up at your bar.
Boxed, meanwhile, is an online wholesaler, shipping products in bulk in two days or less. Already they’ll deliver snacks, fresh groceries, pet food, etc., but now they’re offering alcohol delivery in California, New York and Massachusetts.
Another sign of the times is Instacart. Begun as a delivery app for groceries, it too is adding alcohol to its menus state by state.
Believe me: Those app examples are just a few. But they clearly reveal how our younger consumers are changing even the ancient beverage alcohol business in a digitized world. A mobile way of handling their lives and transactions is as natural for them as watching TV, but on the small screens of their phones.
From what I can see, not every business is paying enough attention to the urgency of digitizing their processes, including some in my own industry — like those travel retail shops at airports where consumers like to save money on beverage alcohol with no taxes.
In case you doubt that I practice what I preach, at last year’s Trinity Forum Conference in Shanghai, I challenged the entire duty-free industry — airports, airlines and retailers — to create a global app of their own. It would let you use your phone to save money on duty-free purchases that will await you when you land.
So how about your business? Ask yourself (and be honest): How well and how actively are you keeping up with the lifestyles and preferences of digital consumers?
If you’re not confident you truly are, it’s time to step up your game!