News Byte: How and Why Mobile Consumers Buy

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Source:  Phil Whitehouse via Flickr Creative Commons
Source: Phil Whitehouse via Flickr Creative Commons

Consumer time on retail websites occurs on mobile more often than desktop computers, according to new research from comScore and Millennial Media, called “Mobile Insights for Retail Brands.” As of 2013, 14% of time spent visiting retailers' online presences occur on tablets and 37% occur on smartphones, compared to 49% on desktop computers. This is a sharp increase in mobile activity compared to just three years ago, when 84% of online retail time was spent on desktop and 16% was spent on smartphones.

The report notes that mobile time doesn't always cannibalize desktop time, as “comScore research suggests that mobile extends the desktop retail audience by 45%, helping consumers to continue their shopping experience across devices, and ultimately driving purchase, by any method.”

The study, which uses data from four different surveys conducted in both the U.S. and Europe, also identified that the mobile retail audience is generally male and middle class: The household income of more than 50% of consumers is greater than $75,000 (35% of mobile consumers had a household income of at least $100,000). When in store men tended to compare product prices, scan barcodes. While in store women tended to share product pictures with family and friends and search for coupons.  

In terms of initiating a retail purchase, the report found two major influencers: price and social factors. Price was by far and away the greatest factor. Seventy-three percent of smartphone purchases are influenced by price, 35% are influenced by customer reviews, and 33% can be persuaded with mobile coupons.

Of course, the products that consumers purchase on mobile devices vary greatly. Clothing and accessories are the most popular for both users of smartphones (39% of those surveyed) and tablets (54% of those surveyed). Tickets were equally popular purchases on both smartphones and tablets (24% for each). And 29% of those surveyed reported buying non-e-books on tablets, the second-most popular purchase item on the device. While the travel and tourism industry has, as a whole, made strides toward bolstering their mobile presences, the report indicates mobile buying isn't heavy and is biased toward tablets (15% report buying hotel accommodations on tablets, 13% buy airplane tickets, and 9% buy car rentals).

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