Shift: Marketing to the cocooned consumer
A view from Nicola Clark

Shift: Marketing to the cocooned consumer

We may be living in the much-heralded 'age of mobile', but brands need to recognise that consumers have become cocooned in their own mobile worlds, writes Nicola Clark.

As someone who suffers from a lack of any sense of direction, I have developed an unhealthy dependence on Google maps. Much as my Beagle follows his nose at all costs, my focus on the blue dot is all-consuming. I no longer ask people for directions; instead, I place all my faith in Google.

The truth of it is that mobile, the great connector, has not only made us less connected, in many ways, but also increasingly removed from the world in which we live. We don't talk to people around us; we tweet people elsewhere, even thousands of miles away, via our mobiles. In this way, mobile technology is helping to create a 'cocooned consumer'.

The smartphone has fast become consumers' significant other. While we are more connected than ever when on the move, has the mobile become a shield to protect consumers from the world around them?

There is little doubt that many consumers, and marketers, have developed dysfunctional relationships with their mobile. No dinner, concert, event or conversation can take place without the crutch of the smartphone and the support of ever-present chatter.

Whether or not we are creating a nation of consumers with attention spans that will run only to 140 characters is debatable. (Perhaps you could follow the example of a friend of mine who demands that all mobile devices are surrendered at the start of dinner; the first person to waver and check their phone picks up the bill.)

Nonetheless, there is certainly a challenge for brands in penetrating this consumer cocoon. Indeed, for some, mobile phones are not just one channel of many, but the primary or sole channel through which they connect.

Those brands that fail to adequately adapt to and invest in mobile will find that smartphones will not be the great connector, but instead will become the biggest barrier between brand and consumer.

Nicola Clark is Marketing's head of features. Follow her on Twitter: @nickykc.


What marketers need to know about the myth of mobile connectivity

Isolated connectivity

Brands need to shift their thinking to connect with cocooned consumers. Mobile is the marketing channel into consumers' inner lives, and therefore must be handled with care.

Instant gratification

Smart brands are integrating mobile into their marketing strategies and bricks-and-mortar offering. For consumers who are using their smartphone to do anything from dumping their partner to buying clothes, introducing speedier delivery or instant results is becoming key.

Great expectations

According to research from the Consumer Knowledge Centre, the cocooned consumer is looking to brands for resonance, emotional nurturing and genuineness; importantly they want brands to offer caring support and transparency.


Bryan Urbick, founder and chairman of Consumer Knowledge Centre, says brands need to understand that, while their target consumers remain savvy, they are far less confident; they feel vulnerable. Marketers should beware entering their cocoons without permission.