Marketers: Meet The ‘Mobile Elite’

by Ray Pun, Strategic Marketing Director For Mobile Solutions, Adobe:


How well do you understand your mobile consumers? Can you articulate how their sentiment and behavioral patterns are changing with technology adoption and how this affects your marketing strategy?

For the fifth annual Adobe Mobile Consumer Survey, conducted in March, we surveyed your mobile consumers–3,050 people in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and German–to learn:

  • What mobile devices are consumers using?
  • How are consumers interacting with Web sites and applications?
  • What activities do consumers perform on their mobile devices?
  • How are consumers adopting innovations in mobile?

Today’s blog, the first in a two-part series, reveals some of our key findings, with the hope you will be able to apply them to your marketing strategies this year. (Note: Adobe is’s parent company.)

Power Users
Consumers who spend more time and money via mobile channels are who we call “mobile-elite.” They are a part of a larger demographic commonly referred to as “perpetually connected customers.”

Our survey defines the mobile elite as the segment of users who spent more than $750 in the past year buying from retailers via mobile channels, or spent more than six hours per week with media and entertainment apps or mobile Web sites. They represent the top 28 percent of survey respondents and have the following preferences:

  • Mobile channels: The mobile elite prefer mobile apps for shopping, followed by mobile Web sites and regular Web sites.
  • Mobile wallets: Twenty-two percent of the mobile elite reported using a mobile wallet in the past three months versus 14 percent of  general consumers.
  • Augmented reality: Thirteen percent of the mobile elite actively used mobile apps with AR in the past three months, versus 9 percent for general consumers.
  • Mobile-assisted in-store shopping: Thirty-six percent of the mobile elite reported this behavior versus 33 percent of general consumers.

The mobile elite’s use of emerging technologies, such as mobile wallets and augmented reality, is a key insight that marketers should consider for their 2015 plans. In addition, the mobile elite will, in many cases, be your brand advocates (more on that in discussion about media and entertainment).

If you haven’t already become well-acquainted with this group, you should do so soon. Organizations that better understand their mobile elite typically have better strategies for segmenting, targeting, and engaging their mobile audiences. Once you understand this valuable segment, you can think through how to best provide an optimal customer experience and how to monetize customer experiences through A/B testing and related techniques (more on that in part 2 of this series).

Industry-Specific Consumer Engagement Patterns
For this survey, we focused on mobile consumers’ and their engagement with three industries: financial services, media and entertainment, and travel.

• Financial services: The majority of consumers who engaged with financial services via mobile in 2014 reported having an overall positive experience. In fact, only 11 percent reported having a bad experience during the past six months. More than one-third (36 percent) of all surveyed reported accessing mobile sites in financial services for the first time via a search engine.

In addition, “financial services appeared to have the strongest brand presence in mobile channels as compared to other sectors in this survey.” The reasons for brand affinity are logical: People are always concerned about their finances, so they frequently check their account balances via mobile apps and mobile Web.

Given the positive experience with their current financial services providers, only 19 percent of consumers, overall, reported “researching or shopping for new financial accounts or insurance policies” as a frequent activity. Almost half of the consumers (45 percent) reported never performing this activity via mobile.

But when we focus on the mobile elite, 39 percent reported they are using mobile channels to shop for financial products. For a marketer in this industry, that insight should lead to a stronger focus on identifying and targeting these prospective customers who are seeking better options for banking, investments, and insurance.

• Media and entertainment: Besides checking their bank accounts, people are using their smartphones to play games–a lot of games–and watch movies. “Across the board, the percentage of consumers who reported engaging with media was higher than any of the other mobile sectors surveyed,” the survey states.

What qualifies as media and entertainment? Not-so-surprisingly, the survey found social media to be mobile users’ top activity (58 percent), followed by accessing local content (41 percent) and playing games (40 percent).

However, when we analyze the mobile elite, we found that “listening to music,” at 60 percent, was the second-most popular activity (compared to 38 percent for overall mobile users). If your marketing activities include providing content for a media and entertainment company, it is important to keep these mobile activities in mind as you plan ways to engage audiences with relevant communications.

• Travel: The relationship between smartphones and travelers is becoming closer. Our survey revealed that “consumer comfort and adoption of mobile as a tool to facilitate travel is on the rise.”

Particularly helpful to the mobile elite and all segments of travelers: the travel app. “Travel apps are a huge hit for mobile users because road warriors and vacationers are frequently on the run and more willing to download and use hotel, airline, and car rental applications … On average, travel enthusiasts use an app more than 20 minutes per app session,’’ the survey found.

However, travelers still turn to the Web for information. Interestingly, “more than 53 percent of consumers reported finding travel Web sites by search engines. … This indicates that travel Web sites are not as strongly branded and do not retain the level of customer loyalty of Web sites in other market segments.”

In other words, travelers don’t go directly to their favorite brands or Web sites. Instead, they perform a search, evaluate the results, and then go to a travel site, where they compare prices and make travel-related purchases.

A question for marketers to ponder: Why aren’t mobile travelers showing as much brand loyalty as mobile users in other verticals?

When we analyzed the mobile elite, we observed that 81 percent research travel destinations via mobile and 71 percent compare travel prices via mobile. In both cases, the mobile elite is significantly more inclined than general users–at 47 percent and 39 percent, respectively–to leverage mobile channels for travel decisions.

The challenge for marketers who work in the travel and hospitality industry: How do you set your services apart to attract mobile elite users who seek the best deal? How can you make it easy for them to choose your organization, returning to your mobile experience again and again?

Stay Tuned
Part 2 of this series will go more in-depth into some of the survey’s key takeaways, and include best practices for mobile marketers desiring to be “mobile first” in the latter half of 2014. To download the survey whitepaper, please click here (short registration required.)

About Ray Pun

As the Strategic Marketing Director for Mobile Solutions at Adobe, Ray Pun helps mobile marketing professionals and mobile technologists create, manage, analyze, and optimize mobile channels and tactics. His biweekly blog, “Mobile First,” provides marketing professionals with practical steps to do just that: keep mobile first in planning digital strategies. You can reach Ray onTwitterLinkedIn, or via email at