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Trend: Location Based Services-We want it here and we want it now.

28% of Americans are using mobile and social location based services for everything from driving directions to dinner reservations.

I must say I was surprised to read that only a quarter of us are gathering information through location based searches, mostly because I cannot imagine a day where I myself could be without that mobile connection. Personal preference aside, consumer usage of LBS’s is on the rise. We can now accomplish just about anything as long as we have a cell signal or wifi. Essentially we have been afforded the opportunity to be mobile powerhouses on a hyper local level. I can get step by step directions to that obscure sushi joint for a business lunch and locate the closest pharmacy that carries a very specific flavor of Tums, all while booking a romantic ski getaway, complete with nightly dinner reservations. And that was just between metro stops. Consumers are becoming increasingly needy and will continue to interact with LBS’s that play to that trait. It is no longer enough to base purchasing decisions off testimonial information. We want the best of the best, that’s right down the block, and we want it discounted.

Takeaway: Hyper Local is Hot.
Whether consumers are staying close to home or vacationing half a world away, they’re engaging with location based services to make any number of decisions. It doesn’t matter if you’re searching for the best happy hour near your office or locating the closest pit stop on your road trip, there’s an app for that, and it’s going to ask for your location.

Knowing this, marketers have been given a huge gift in the form of extremely specific data collection: where customers are searching from, what they’re looking for and where they end up. My favorite example comes from Open Table. Say I’m perusing the streets of Dupont and I’m suddenly struck with a craving for a killer burger. I pop my location into Open Table, see that Firefly and The Front Page are two blocks away. Firefly is a bit above my price range, but Front Page is just right and its serving a delicious concoction they lovingly call the “Boss Burger”. I check their reservation openings, choose 5:30, and before I know it, I’m on my way to dinner. In a matter of moments, a plethora of data has been gathered about my current habits as a consumer through which many inferences might be made in the future. What they’ve learned: I make last minute plans, I’m not interested in dropping tons of money, and I favor a casual bar scene over a posh lounge atmosphere. Most impressively, I offered up this information. We’ve seen consumers become more lax in releasing personal information like this as platforms like FourSquare and Yelp become more and more popular. The obvious question that arises: “Where will it go from here?”

How To: Make The Most Of What You’re Given
There are numerous applications that utilize a consumer’s location. The most useful part, however, is the ability of the marketer to create a free optimized profile over which to dispense information to prospective customers. Take Yelp, for example. In most cases, a profile will exist for a given business even if a representative from that business has yet to review or edit it. If business owners wish to capitalize off the traffic these sites are getting, they will do their best to fine tune their profiles. Adding current coordinates, accurate address/contact information, business hours and preferably a store front picture will ensure maximum exposure. This, however, will not be the status quo for long.

In the future, look for an intermediary application to immerge that will alert users of current deals and other pertinent information based upon GIS. Such an application will constantly run in the background of the users’ mobile device, activating an alert only when the users’ preferences coincide with local promotions. Say, for example, I’m visiting BestBuy in hopes of purchasing a new TV. When it recognizes my location, the application will automatically ping me information regarding the wish list I’ve been compiling. Based on my purchase history and current site activity, Amazon has suggested I consider several other television options. With just one click I am suddenly able to purchase a less expensive TV directly over my phone. Sorry BestBuy. Amazon barely let me walk through your front door.

This tactic is already being employed to a certain extent by several companies. LivingSocial and their Instant Deals offer customers extremely cheap dining options, usually during the lunch hour, based on a tight radius around the users’ location. These offers are more time sensitive than the traditional deal, adding an additional sense of urgency. Granted, this is a fairly simplistic instance built on limited information, but the concepts’ success thus far suggests the sky just might be the limit when targeting customers becomes more sophisticated. In the future, when marketers utilize consumer preferences and behavior history, leveraging this information effectively will likely bring customers in who would have otherwise patronized another brand. Having time on their sides, marketers who utilize immediate hyper local targeting might actually steal the competitions business right out from under their noses.

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