Most British consumers (70%) are only happy to receive location-based commercial messages via their mobile phone if they have specifically given permission to be contacted that way, according to a study into Social Local Mobile (SoLoMo) marketing strategies by customer insight firm GI Insight.
The study, based on a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, also shows that 58% of consumers are only open to receiving localised marketing messages on their mobiles or smartphones if they have a strong existing relationship with the brand sending them, such as membership in a loyalty scheme, while 80% are not happy for 'any old company' to send them such communications.
The most surprising finding of the research was that, despite initial enthusiasm for Foursquare, Facebook Deals and other SoLoMo-related social media initiatives, consumers are not at all favourable toward location-based marketing through social networks, with just 22% saying that receiving promotions via these sites would increase their likelihood of actually taking up an offer.
Instead, 59% of consumers say they are much more likely to take up localised offers sent to their mobile - whether by email, text or special app - if they belong to the sending company's loyalty scheme. What's more, 59% also maintain that even if they have an established connection with a company, they will not act on location-based mobile messages if they are not individualised offers that reflect an understanding of their needs and preferences.
The report, entitled 'Harnessing the power of SoLoMo', examines how receptive and responsive consumers would be to mobile messages from companies based on their current location - such as an offer of discount or a free item for visiting a shop or restaurant in an area they have just arrived at. The survey was representative of the UK by age, gender and social class and the report includes sections on gender differences, age group breakdowns and regional variations.
"These findings throw up some red flags for brands, and some of them are surprising. For example, not everyone is happy to be marketed to via mobile, and less than a quarter of the consumers we surveyed say that they would act on localised messages sent to their smartphones via a social networking site," said GI Insight's managing director, Andy Wood. "Permissions are crucial to even get a message read and having a longstanding relationship with a brand - such as belonging to the loyalty scheme - is the real key driver behind consumer take-up of SoLoMo offers."
Consumers also want localised mobile messages and offers to be personalised, and provide individual promotions based on what the brand knows about them. And these relationships have to be built through other channels and informed by data painstakingly gathered and analysed - before any location-based marketing is even considered.
"SoLoMo cannot simply be a matter of casting the net out to a location and seeing if consumers bite," concluded Wood. "So SoLoMo is not going to develop into the be-all and end-all of one-to-one marketing: a significant proportion of consumers will never be comfortable accepting location-based marketing and, for others, it is just one touch point among a whole range of channels that brands must use to engage them."