Major industry players like Google, Apple, Microsoft, MasterCard, and AT&T are banking on this revolutionary mobile technology. Here's what the shift will mean for brands.
Digital marketers are on the hunt for a silver bullet: a ubiquitous, cool way to interact with consumers through mobile devices. The marketplace is certainly poised, with over 300 million smartphones in use in the U.S. alone. But audiences have yet to mass adopt a revolutionary new mobile technology. For example, QR codes are everywhere, but with a 6.2 percent adoption rate. Companies like Starbucks and Yelp are using augmented reality in clever ways. And video is seeing a huge increase in popularity. But besides social sharing and entertainment, nothing truly new has become a standard on mobile devices, yet.
The three keys to a mobile technology becoming a standard seem to be:
- Device makers baking in the technology from the beginning (consider app stores vs. QR code readers)
- Ease-of-use for consumers, with either entertainment- or money and product-related benefits
- Major companies committing to the technology, and educating consumers
Numerous technologies are becoming popular with niche groups of consumers. But how does something new become a mass standard? To quote Tim Kridel, "Money is the root of all technology."
Money is the root of all technology
If you follow the money, you'll see that Google, Apple, Verizon, MasterCard, AT&T, and many other major players are investing heavily in NFC, or near field communications. NFC is a short-range (2 cm to 10 cm) broadcast technology that allows smartphones to interact with other devices when held close together, or "tapped." While a major use of NFC is making purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, with possibilities extend into incentives, promotions, content, and much more.
NFC is already native on a long list of phones, with more coming this year. Apple has received a patent for NFC in a retail setting, and is said to be "working hard on bringing NFC to the next iPhone, expected to drop this summer." Google is integrating NFC and Google Wallet into its devices. And there are numerous other stories coming out about how these, and other major companies, are preparing for NFC on a large scale.
Looking at the industry, research firm Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2015, NFC will enable worldwide transactions totaling about $151.7 billion. Research group In-Stat says "2011 is poised to be the year for NFC as it evolves from a concept to a strategy that is actively being pursued." And Gartner says NFC will possibly be mainstream by 2015, citing a need for ease-of-use, and ease-of-implementation without compromising security.
Though there are battles still to be fought regarding standards. For example, Apple might work with MasterCard's PayPass, and Verizon has blocked Google Wallet in favor of it's own NFC wallet tech, ISIS.
What NFC means for brands
The upside of NFC for brands is massive. And with industry giants making partnerships, and building it natively into devices, NFC is coming like a freight train. What does that mean for brands? According to Steve Mura, director of digial marketing for MillerCoors, it's Miller time.
"We think it's going to take a couple rounds before people are good at it…but we want our consumers' first great experience with near field communications to be with one of our brands."
When MillerCoors and "NFC" are in the same sentence, one might assume the reference is to the National Football Conference. (Go Packers!) But the country's second-largest beer brand is ready to take their consumers to the next level. Find out more in these short interview clips with iMedia's Bethany Simpson.
Even though it's not the standard yet, Steve says now is the time to be getting ready.
"We think the idea of delivering our guys a rich, engaging experience, right up to the point of purchase, is going to be a powerful tool."
"You have to think about it now, and prepare now."
Steve says mobile is the new ecosystem for MillerCoors. He says audiences not traditionally on the front edge of the tech curve are connecting personally with brands through their devices.
"Our guy likes that we know he lives in Chicago, that he loves the Bears, and that he loves going to bars right around the corner."
"All of our brands are looking at 'how do we engage our consumer [through mobile devices]?'."
Steve also says mobile and social are giving marketers the ability to understand their audiences in vast new ways. He excited to know now what fans expect from the MillerCoors brand, and what value he can provide.
"I want to create great programming that our guys will see and say, "That's a great brand… I want more of it."
For more than a decade, Steve Mura has been instrumental in developing exceptional digital and interactive marketing programs for some of the largest food & beverage and CPG brands in the industry. Mura currently serves as Director of Digital Marketing at MillerCoors, where he manages all aspects of digital marketing and promotions for the Company’s mobile initiatives. During his tenure at MillerCoors, he has helped direct successful marketing programs for the Miller Lite and Coors Light Innovations divisions, which include building a robust 3-year innovation pipeline, launching successful new brands like the Miller Lite Vortex Bottle, managing supplier engagements, and driving strong incremental growth through numerous innovations.
MillerCoors brews, markets and sells the MillerCoors portfolio of brands in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Built on a foundation of great beer brands and nearly 300 years of brewing heritage, MillerCoors continues the commitment of its founders to brew the highest quality beers. MillerCoors is the second-largest beer company in America, capturing nearly 30 percent of U.S. beer sales.