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6 posts categorized "Science"

April 18, 2016

Expert Interview Series: Atim Ukoh on the Power of Mobile Solutions to Empower Consumers



Atim Ukoh is the Social Media Specialist at global brand protection firm Sproxil, where she manages digital communications for the company globally.

Sproxil was created as a response to the increasing death rate of individuals in emerging markets as a result of counterfeit products. Founder Ashifi Gogo had experienced the prevalence of counterfeit drugs growing up in Ghana and decided to create a solution to target this problem.

Atim recently checked in with us to share her insight on how consumers can protect themselves from counterfeit goods using mobile technology. Here's what she had to say:

How common are counterfeit goods today?

The penetration of counterfeit goods in both emerging and developing markets has increased significantly over the years. In some countries, counterfeit goods are present in open markets in higher volumes than the original products.

What do you think would surprise both business owners and consumers alike about the counterfeit market today?

The counterfeit market has become more sophisticated with time. The counterfeiters are getting clever about how they reproduce these products. Some replicate these goods so well to the point that even employees at the company that produce the original products have a hard time differentiating genuine from fake.

What's the impact of the proliferation of counterfeit goods? What are the risks to consumers of purchasing counterfeit items?

Over 700,000 people die every year from taking counterfeit medicines. That's equivalent to four fully packed jumbo jets crashing every day! Consumers are likely to develop short- and long-term health issues from consumption of these products. They lose money from the purchase of these items.

How can mobile technology be used by consumers to combat counterfeiting?

Mobile technology empowers the consumer to combat counterfeiting by providing an easy verification method to ensure they are purchasing genuine products. The Sproxil solution enables the consumer to text a unique pin provided on the product they are purchasing to a short code and they receive a response verifying that their product is genuine.

What are some ways consumers can use their phones/tablets to protect themselves when shopping?

Consumers should use their phones to verify that their products are genuine by engaging with the code provided to verify their product. They can also download the Sproxil App and use this to verify if their product is genuine.

What should businesses be doing to protect consumers using mobile technology?

Businesses need to understand that for the consumer to engage and enable them combat counterfeiting, they need to also take the right steps to make the process easier. Businesses need to implement the right mobile technology in their current supply chain that would eliminate counterfeit infiltration. Once they install the labels or pins on their products, they can also track when their products leave their factory until it gets into their consumers hands. This helps improve the engagement they have with consumers as the consumers are now sure that they are consuming protected products and the brand cares about them.

What's one of your favorite success stories for how mobile technology has been used to protect consumers?

There are many interesting stories of how the Sproxil Solution has saved lives. Our favorite is with one of our clients who produces anti-malarial drugs. Using the Sproxil solution, we were able to intercept stolen goods in their supply chain before they got to the retailers. We traced the goods to the counterfeiter's location and were able to engage law enforcement to handle the matter appropriately. This saved thousands of lives that would have consumed those products that they were about to alter and replicate.

Reach more customers with our mobile solutions. Try ClubTexting for free.

March 02, 2015

Mastering the Art of the Timely Text Message


An ill-timed text message can confuse your mobile subscribers.

Have you ever received a text from a business that left you scratching your head? Perhaps you received it late on a weeknight or maybe after a limited time deal had already lapsed. When it comes to text message marketing, timing is both an art and a science. A well-timed message can mean the difference between customers feeling excited about your brand or slightly confused. If you are using text messages in your business marketing toolkit, here are some tips for timing them right.

Learn about Your Target Customers' Behaviors

Part of the art of timely text messaging is learning about your target audiences' behaviors. Understanding who your mobile subscribers are and what a typical day looks like for them can help you time your text messages more effectively. For example, are most of your mobile subscribers college-age students or are they young professionals working 9-5 jobs? What are their daily patterns? Do they shop or eat at restaurants frequently during lunch time hours? Talking to your customers or conducting a short survey can help you learn more about them. The more you know about your target audience, the better you will be able to time your text marketing efforts.

Think about When You Want Them to Pay Attention

Another important thing to think about when it comes to timing is the type of offer you're sending. For example, are you a restaurant owner that's hoping to capture the attention of the lunch crowd with a special discount? Or maybe you are hoping to drive more foot traffic to your business for happy hour on a Friday evening. Take a look at what you are trying to accomplish with your offer before you schedule a time to distribute. To some degree, the type of text message you will share with your mobile subscribers will dictate the appropriate time to send it.

Avoid Certain Times

While it may seem obvious, it's important to avoid certain times with your text messages. It's a good rule of thumb not to distribute messages early in the morning or late at night. You may also want to avoid typical commute times if your target customers are already in the workforce. While you may be able to capture the attention of some people taking public transportation to get to and from work, you will likely miss a good portion of your audience that commutes by car. Avoiding certain times of day can help you get the highest possible reach for your mobile marketing efforts.


Timing text messages effectively is an art and a science.

Timing is important when it comes to text message marketing, but many business owners have trouble timing their campaigns properly. There are a few key factors to look at as you are scheduling your text message marketing efforts. Learning about your target customers' behaviors, timing your messages according to the type of offer you're sending, and avoiding certain times of day can help you get the best response from your campaign. If you are interested in getting started with text message marketing, try Club Texting for free today.

August 09, 2014

Scottish Healthcare Gets a Boost from SMS

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Glasgow's Western Infirmary

Healthcare providers across the world are using SMS to stay engaged with consumers. Blood banks in India are increasing donor numbers. Discharge times in U.S. hospitals are being reduced by up to an hour. And in Scotland – where healthcare is managed largely under the auspices of the public sector – investment in SMS systems is helping patients stay on top of appointments, and even encouraging them to quit smoking.

The latest development in the Scottish Government’s fledgling relationship with SMS technology has seen mobile marketing company Incentivated develop a ‘Find My Nearest’ service specifically aimed at helping women get to breast screening centers. A public advertising campaign is currently promoting the service. By texting their postcode along with the keyword SCREEN to 61611, Scottish women will receive a reply giving details of their nearest screening center, and ask that they call for a screening appointment if they have not had one in the last three years.

Headed by the Scottish Breast Screening Programme, the scheme divides the country into six regions. Postcodes sent into the service are cross-checked against the government’s database of mobile users. The reply message differs according to region, and is sent as soon as the person’s location has been determined.

Gail Lyall, Senior Marketing Manager for the government, says:

"Creating awareness of the importance of the role of breast screening is hugely important to ensure we keep increasing the numbers of women that detect breast cancer at the earliest stage. The audience we are targeting are hard to engage, so when we have their attention to act, it is imperative we make things as easy as possible for them. SMS allows us to provide a quicker customer journey from call to action to making that important appointment."

It’s no surprise that Holyrood has opted to use Incentivated. The tech firm has a well-established relationship with the government, and already provides a wide range of SMS services, including a program for the Scottish Children’s Panel that allows citizens to text in for information on taking part in public hearings designed to improve child safety in the home. The service was an enormous success, prompting 1700 SMS requests in the first week alone.

Scotland also provides a text service for people trying to give up smoking. Users text in the date they would like to quit, and a daily reply helps them count down to the big day, as well as sending tips on staying off the cigarettes for good.

August 03, 2014

Scented Text Message Startup Still Smells Victory After a Taste of Failure

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Vapor Communications, a company that transmits aromas via text message, has failed to meet its $150,000 crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo – but is promising to press on with the money it did raise. 

The technology was partly invented by Harvard University professor David Edwards. It has thus far raised close to 30% of its goal, with 176 backers pledging $47,000 to the project. Despite falling well short of their target, Vapor Communications will continue to work towards a viable commercial version of the technology. Plans are afoot to move their office from Paris to Cambridge later this year, and a company statement said:

“We expect that the evolution of the product over the coming months will increasingly attract the interest of consumers.”

Vapor Communications was founded last September as a way to bring Edwards’ oPhone hardware to market. The oPhone comes with small ‘scent cartridges’ that communicate with an app on the iPhone. Pre-sales were strong, with the $149 retail price seeming just right to enthusiastic food bloggers and others with an interest in sharing scents.

But critics suggest that this need to buy extra hardware is an impediment to success. In a world governed by cloud-based data and in-built apps, the less physical stuff you need to accumulate, the better. The vast majority of smartphone experiences require nothing more than a download, which makes apps like oPhone and oSnap a hard sell.

Nevertheless, the developers’ aims are laudable. It’s true that a huge part of our eating experiences are influenced by aroma, and that there is plenty of interest in communicating smells in the same way audiovisual content is shared. Whether that interest extends beyond those in the food industry to the consumers they serve remains to be seen. If and when then happens, the oPhone will be well placed to meet the demand. For now, lovers of madcap tech concepts can only hope Vapor Communications continues to grow in it’s new UK home. 

July 31, 2014

Text Messages Used to Curb Teen Drinking

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As student activities go, binge drinking and text messaging are two perennial favorites. Now, a group of researchers have figured out a way to use the latter to combat the former.

A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests data collected and support offered via text message can reduce future instances of binge-drinking in young adults.

Lead researcher Brian Suffoletto, M.D. and his team designed the trial and won funding from the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF). The research – which is the first of its kind – aimed to see if SMS messaging  could collect data on college drinking habits, deliver feedback and ultimately change drinking behavior in young adults. The findings are due to be published in August in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

According to Dr. Suffoletto, more than 50,000 adults between 18 and 24 arrive at emergency rooms on a daily basis in the United States, all seeking treatment for alcohol related problems. The research team performed a randomized trial of an SMS program with 765 young adults who were discharged from four emergency departments in Pennsylvania.

Participants were divided into three groups. One group received a series of automated text messages each week, asking them about their drinking plans for the weekend. A follow-up report compares their actual consumption. If the group anticipated having more than five drinks during a 24 hour period, participants received a warning text and a request to lower alcohol consumption during the week. Those who agreed received positive reinforcement and strategies for cutting down; those who refused to lower their consumption received a text message asking them to reflect on their decision.

A second group received a text query about total alcohol intake, but did not receive any pre-weekend messages or post-weekend feedback. The third group was a control group, and did not receive any text messages.

At the three month stage, participants who were exposed to the text message encouragement had decreased their drinking by 1-2 occasions each month (from a baseline of 3-4). Nearly 15% of the intervention group reported complete abstinence.

Researchers speculate that frequent text messages raised self-awareness about alcohol use. This sort of ‘mobile intervention’ could, if implemented in emergency departments across the country, not only curb teen drinking, but alleviate the daily burden placed on hospitals because of alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related admissions.

March 07, 2013

Are You Comfortable Emailing & Texting With Your Doctor?

There's an interesting story over at The Altantic regarding how comfortable different groups of Americans are when it comes to communicating with their doctors via email and text message. The gist:

The average American writes a novel's worth of email every year. They also read a novel's worth of trend stories about how all we do is text -- how 15 million texts sent every minute are destroying the art of conversation, rotting our souls. Still, only about one in ten Americans has ever emailed or texted with their doctor. The formal in-office face-to-face patient-doctor dynamic is largely sacrosanct.

Here's an interesting chart breaking down the comfort-level by various demographics:

Text-the-doctor

Let's dig a bit deeper:

Tech-savvy practices and hospitals are increasingly using remote access systems for patients, where they can log in to a website and get test results or leave messages for physicians, within a secure system, in a limited capacity. That's a good place to start. It keeps all interactions in one HIPAA-compliant place and keeps doctors' personal phones and emails from being overrun by concerned patients. If a busy primary care physician has 1,500 patients, even if each one only emailed him every six months, that would be eight emails 365 days a year.

But some doctors, especially specialists with a smaller patient base who manage fewer chronic conditions, have been able to integrate texting into their practice. There are HIPAA-compliant text and email platforms, and most major insurers are figuring out ways to cover "digital visits.

Read more @ The Atlantic.