Body Shop and Urban Airship turn mobile wallets into brand and social engagement tool

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Mobile wallets remain underappreciated and underutilized by retailers. Mobile wallet passes are more lightweight than full-blown retail apps, are more likely to be downloaded and can deliver some of the same marketing functionality, such as location-based notifications.

Now, The Body Shop and Urban Airship, which offers a mobile wallet marketing solution, have further expanded the use cases for mobile wallets with a very creative promotion to raise awareness of the beauty retailer’s campaign against animal testing using a mobile wallet pass. The campaign seeks to end cosmetics testing on animals globally.

The pass shows signature counts for The Body Shop’s Forever Against Animal Testing petition, which will ultimately be presented to the UN. Signatures are being collected online and in The Body Shop stores, and there’s a multichannel campaign to promote the petition.

What’s interesting here is that The Body Shop is using the mobile wallet pass to raise awareness of a social cause closely identified with its brand. However, there’s no monetization or effort to drive people to buy something — no deals, no coupons, no rewards for the consumer. There’s not even an explicit call to action.

The only reward is the satisfaction of participating and helping promote a worthy cause.

The prompt to download the pass comes only after the petition has been signed online. It’s purely a way for the end user to monitor signature counts, which as of this morning stand at over 2.8 million. Passes can be shared, but the Body Shop doesn’t suggest that in the pass itself.

An earlier Urban Airship study found that more than 75 percent of mobile wallet passes are installed through sharing rather than downloads from retail and brand marketer channels. That study also discovered that, on average, a pass is added to 3.3 other mobile devices. The companies expect that sharing metric to be exceeded for this campaign.

The Body Shop’s Russell Longley told me over the phone that the feedback the company has received has been very positive. The company is tracking links in and out of the pass, as well as shares. Longley points out that in this situation, the mobile wallet has been transformed from a tool to help drive transactions into a vehicle for “conversation and engagement” with the brand.

This is very significant and opens the door to a wide range of brand awareness campaigns and causes, instead of more narrow coupons and discounts. Used creatively and smartly, the mobile wallet could be the personal, “conversational” tool brands have been looking — especially for millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Longley observed that the mobile wallet pass “sits in-between a mobile site and an app” in the company’s overall mobile strategy.

All of the fields on the pass can be updated dynamically. The Body Shop could turn this pass into something more explicitly promotional and transactional after the petition campaign ends, provided “automatic updates” are turned on. But Longley and The Body Shop are being cautious and respectful of their users. He doesn’t want to surprise or disorient people.

But the point should be made that the functionality is there once the pass is downloaded.

Brand marketers need be both imaginative and careful about how they engage mobile users. But they should also recognize that The Body Shop’s campaign points to an expanded set of mobile wallet use cases that are intriguing to contemplate.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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