November 28, 2012
A few weeks ago, the Cochrane Library released a review of five studies on the link between mobile phone services and smoking cessation, run over a six-month period on 9,000 participants, 5,800 of which were in the U.K. Those in the intervention group received motivational text messages and quitting advice several times a day via their feature phones, while those in the control group received less frequent text messages, online information, or phone support via voice.
The study found that those who received mobile messaging-based motivational support had twice the chances of success than those without. 9% of smokers in the study receiving mobile messaging support avoided cigarettes during the trial period, while only 5% of those in the control group managed to avoid cigarettes. Smartphones were not involved in the study, so the addition of mobile apps may or may not have had an effect on smoking cessation efforts. In addition, authors of the review suggested mobile phone-based support would be more cost-effective than support via telephone lines.
So, mobile messaging is not only an effective advertising channel to sell goods and services to consumers who have opted-in, but also a cost-effective motivational support channel to help smokers drop their smoking addiction. Likewise, mobile messaging would potentially be a useful tool to help curb other addictions (a study has already been released on the link between text message support and weight loss), though we can’t say for certain as the context of other addictions would differ.
Below are some key highlights and takeaways I think are important for mobile marketers, advertisers, and consumers to consider.
- Steady mobile messaging support improves chances of smoking cessation by almost two-fold.
- The above is true for smokers in developed countries; results would differ in countries with different tobacco regulations.
- Feature phone services are potentially useful tools in curbing other addictions and bad habits.
- Smartphone tools (i.e. apps) may also be potentially useful tools in curbing addictions.
- Mobile messaging is a powerful persuasion tool that would potentially be useful in other areas besides advertising and curbing addictions.