Nikon eyes mobile to bridge Web, stores

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Nikon is aggressively advertising its digital cameras this year with TV and print ads featuring model Kate Moss as well as Internet promotions on Flickr and Yahoo. To try to bridge the gap between consumers' Web activities and in-store purchases, the company also has started a mobile phone campaign.
The first week of December, Nikon began an effort with mobile phone marketing firm GPShopper that directs consumers searching for digital cameras on their phone to the nearest Nikon dealers. The results even provide a map to ensure they get there. For consumers searching online, the results can be sent to their phone.
"GPShopper offers a tool that allows us to speak with consumers when they're directly in the purchase mode," said Andrea Kerr, vice president and account director at Nikon media services firm ID Media, New York.
The number of consumers researching products on cell phones while shopping is still small, Ms. Kerr said. However, as GPShopper's pricing is similar to a pay-per-search campaign, it is a great way to engage with consumers while Nikon and ID Media learn about the process, she said. In other words, ID Media pays only for clicks on the Nikon brand.
The way it works is that consumers go to www.slifter.com, a consumer goods search engine hosted by GPShopper that returns results listing the nearest retailers carrying a desired product. If they type in "Nikon" or "digital camera," Nikon has paid to be the top name in the list of results. Also, the company provided GPShopper with digital assets such as a logo that come back with the results as well as the list of all of its dealers nationwide and big box retailers that carry Nikon point-and-shoot cameras.
On their cell phones, consumers can text message Nikon and their ZIP code to a designated number (75438) or access Slifter.com via the wireless Web.
"The Nikon campaign is one of the first times you have a paid search campaign on a mobile phone driving to local results," said Alex Muller, CEO/founder of GPShopper, New York. "The cell phone is a great way to close the loop from online activities to in-store activities."
A growing body of evidence supports the idea that many consumers prefer to research products online and then make their purchases in-store, he said. For example, many stores have added in-store pickup for online orders.
One popular feature on Slifter.com lets users send a product of interest to a friend.
"Shopping is inherently very social," Mr. Muller said, adding that the "send to friend" feature is the mobile application's biggest driver of user adoption.
Slifter.com has "hundreds of thousands of users" and is growing roughly 30 percent per month, Mr. Muller said. However, in November, that figure jumped to 50 percent. The audience consists mainly of mobile users ages 15-40. Interestingly, people using Slifter.com are searching more based on availability and convenience than on price, he said.
"Our audience on the mobile phone selects products that are 40 percent more expensive than people shopping on the Web," he said. When someone is looking for something on their cell phone, they want to look at it and take it home that day, he said.
Nikon's goals for the campaign include a high number of searches and a high click-through rate, Ms. Kerr said.
"We're also interested to hear what the dealers have to say," she said. "We want to know if [consumers] are bringing in their phones and saying, 'This is the camera that I want.'"

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