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Retailers need to have mobile presence to build relationships with consumers

June 18, 2010

phoneNine out of 10 Americans have mobile phones and they use them for more than just voice services, according to a study conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retail Initiative.

Internet, email and SMS are equally – if not more – important to consumers in terms of how they use their mobile devices. People are increasingly using their mobile devices to find information.

“The key finding is that more people are using cells for more things than just talking,” said Mike Gatti, executive director of the NRF’s marketing division, Washington. “Talking is decreasing and SMS usage is increasing.

“A lot of people will tell you that their kids won’t even communicate with them on the phone,” he said. “Grandparents are learning to text just so they have a way of communicating with their grandchildren.

“New smartphones are propelling people to want to surf the mobile Web, do product research and even buy goods and services.”

An increasing number of people are looking for phones which offer access to email, the Internet, picture-taking and even calendars. People want to be “tuned in” more than ever before.
According to the most recent survey of 9,578 adults, nearly nine out of 10 adults (87.5 percent) say they have a mobile phone, an increase of 17.9 percent from January 2006 (74.2 percent).
With ecommerce now expanding to mcommerce, many people want the luxury of being able to shop or browse companies’ Web sites from their phone. The survey found 41.5 percent of adults want a mobile phone with Internet access, compared to just under one-third (32.6 percent) who said so in July 2008.

More than half (51.4 percent) of adults 18-34 years old say they want to be able to surf the Web on their phone, compared to the 41 percent who said so in July 2008.
Americans expect more from their phones than the ability to talk to family and friends. Aside from sending pictures and sharing stories and experiences over social networking sites, consumers want to be able to connect with their favorite retailers in a way they never have been able to before – instantaneously.

When it comes to other mobile phone features or attributes, adults say email access has also increased in importance over the years.

Over half (51.1 percent) of 18-34 year olds say they want a mobile phone with email access, up from 28.1 percent in January 2006.

But young adults are not the only ones who favor email access: According to the survey, 42.6 percent of all adults want email on their phone, up significantly from 22.5 percent four years ago.
Many survey respondents also said that phones with cameras (59 percent), calendars (42.7 percent) and text messaging (55.6 percent) are important attributes.
When it comes to why consumers switch mobile phone service providers, four out of 10 (41.3 percent) adults say pricing/value is their top reason, with other important factors including coverage (31.6 percent) and plan options (22.1 percent).

These factors remained consistent in every age group except users 55 and older, which listed their priorities as: pricing/value (41.3 percent), coverage (28.9 percent) and customer service (17.9 percent).
“So for marketers this is yet another channel that they have to consider,” Mr. Gatti said. “It fits nicely into the marketing mix.

“Something they need to think about is who their customers are and how they like to be communicated with,” he said. “My reccommendations are get a hold of our blueprint and really try to explore the use of mobile in your communications efforts.

“Mobile is about building a relationship with your customer and it’s a two-way street.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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