Is your brand engaging with commuter commerce?

smartphone on trainThroughout 2013, I have written a lot about how the rise of smartphones has transformed train travel into a rich opportunity for commuters to steal a march on themselves and power through their ‘life laundry’ – getting everyday admin out of the way in order to free up time at work and at home for more of what they need and want to do.

Commuters, we know, are a very hard-to-reach demographic group. They’re upmarket (71% ABC1) and they’ve got high levels of disposable income (the average individual income in the KBH region is £19.7k while the average individual income of the KBH commuter is £26k). However, they don’t tend to browse opt-in commuter media – incredibly, 59% of commuters have not read the Metro or the Evening Standard in the last 12 months. So arguably it can only be media that doesn’t require active opting-in – which is one of out-of-home’s, and traincards’, strengths – that can get the message across to this group.

In 2013 we’ve carried out two detailed research projects into on-train commuter behaviour, their engagement with advertising and their propensity to embrace opportunities for distraction. This has unveiled a particular demographic group, which we’ve called the ‘in-touch train traveller’.

The increasing rise of this personality type has opened up a new wave of potential for the on-train advertiser. Of those consumers who have responded to an on-train ad, 45% have done so while still on the train2. 92% of in-touch train travellers use a smartphone on the train2, and it is smartphones that have enabled instant request fulfilment – whether it’s a purchase prompt or a route to find out more information – which, coupled with an average 50-minute commute time in the KBH region2, provides a valuable environment for advertisers to hook in – engage – consumer commuters and encourage them to open a meaningful dialogue.

There was an interesting article on ‘commuter commerce’ in the Evening Standard. Within it, Hugh Boyle from Geometry Global talks about the way that media owners and advertisers may respond to the trend of ‘third space’ shopping – neither at home nor in the office. It talks about “the prospect of pop-up shops and eCommerce lockers”.

At KBH we have just launched what we believe is the first such direct line to purchase, KBH Engage. These on-train touch-points, enabling NFC, QR code or SMS interaction with specified on-train ads, directly target our in-touch train travellers. They generate a straightforward connection between advertiser and consumer, and can lead to a whole world of further interaction – from direct routes to purchase to exclusive content to vouchers providing a tangible reward for engagement. With commuters keen to clean up their admin during their daily commute, we believe KBH Engage is the right service at the right time in the right environment for all involved in the equation.

Ian Reynolds is Managing Director of KBH On-Train Media.