I woke up one day over Christmas and my iPhone had a crack in the screen. I carry it everywhere I go. I sleep with it next to me. How could this happen? Did I knock it off the table during the night and put it back in my sleep? Did someone else break it…? The fact that I now can’t look at my iPhone without feeling ‘upset’ tells you something about how important it is to me and how emotionally attached I am to “her.”

To show how smart phones are taking over our lives, a survey by Telenav, in 2011, discovered that 63% of us would choose our mobile over chocolate. A more surprising 33% of us would choose daily use of our mobile over sex. Telenav may just have stumbled on a way to fight obesity and control global population growth.

My mobile is vital to my daily life. Twenty years ago I engaged with brands in stores or via call centres. Then came the internet. Now, it appears to me, the mobile is rapidly becoming the defining interface between consumers and the world. It could soon be the key medium in the All Channel Experience. The only question is, will brands respond and take full advantage?

David Reed, Head of Digital Marketing at Capgemini UK, relays his thoughts on how consumer product and retail brands can take advantage of the escalating obsession surrounding mobile phones. 

Our entire lives are on our mobile phones

Someone from our office was staying at the house of her friend’s ‘so called’ boyfriend and broke her phone getting out of bed. Don’t ask. She was devastated because it holds her whole life – her contacts, her photos, her diary, her music and her social network.

Brands need to work out how they can become essential in this world. Here’s an example: Facebook has developed a range of new social search capabilities. In the near future, a single person looking for a date is able to search their friend’s friend’s profiles to find true love, in seconds. You type in ‘Fit single guy who likes skiing’ and all the matches are onscreen in seconds. Any number of brands could build apps and take advantage of this search capability – dating sites, fashion retailers or even a high street grocer. Who will be first?

Mobile is happening right now

Whilst we think of ourselves as thoughtful and considered, the new and immediate is irresistible.  One of the primary functions of the smart phone is to alert us constantly to the availability of new information for immediate consumption – new status update, new text message, application update, incoming call – we love it! In addition, the geo-positioning capability of the smart phone has collapsed a traditionally extended process of locating and informing us of what is going on around us. This is different from how we assimilate traditional advertising. Brands need to learn to be always on; respond to our locations and behaviour and be ready to alert us if something interesting is happening. As long as they are sensitive and relevant to our needs we will be receptive.

 It is wherever you are

Smart phones are location aware. They can see where you are in relation to the people, the places and the brands you love. And the direction you’re travelling, the weather – you name it. For example, imagine it is a sunny day and you are out shopping. You can receive a message inviting you to a local restaurant with an outdoor patio and notifying you that your best mate is already there. Location-specific marketing and geo-fencing are a reality, but few brands have embraced. It is easy to say geo-fencing campaigns are intrusive.  But, if you are out shopping and River Island send you a message to tell you it has a new range of boots and they are half price, what woman is really going to resist?

Smart phones are useful in new, unexpected ways

Like the walkman, the smart phone is changing our world. There is a constant stream of new applications being created. For example, eBay has developed an app that allows people to take a picture of a car, or any household product, with their phone. It then searches its inventory of products for sale and finds a match. The question that manufacturers, brands and retailers need to ask themselves is how can they become useful in this new mobile world?

There is never a dull moment

Our mobiles fill the empty moments of our lives. When we sit waiting for a train we look at our phones. When it’s the adverts during Downton Abbey, we glance at our mobiles. Some of us even use them to help us sleep, dipping into a self-help app before turning out the light.  What can brands do?  Brands like P&G have created a mobile beauty site, Thread, but most are still only thinking as far as the next campaign. Brands need to put on their thinking caps.

We need to get cracking now

UK consumers spend a quarter of their media consumption on mobiles. Yet less than 1% of marketing budgets are spent on mobile activity. It is time for us all to rethink our approach.  What do you think?