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Two-thirds of surveyed smartphone owners use mobile devices for purchases: study

August 25, 2011

Consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to buy goods and services, with two-thirds of surveyed smartphone owners using their handsets to make purchases, according to a study by L.E.K.

Additionally, the study found that of the consumers who owned smartphones and used them for buying, 80 percent of them had used their handsets for product research. L.E.K. surveyed 1,600 consumers in the study.

“The biggest thing I found in the study was how wide spread mobile is to enable consumers to be better shoppers today – not tomorrow,” said Alan Lewis, Boston-based vice president of L.E.K.’s retail and consumer products practice.

“Mobile is a key enabler of consumer purchases,” he said.

L.E.K. is a global strategy consulting firm with offices in the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Small buys
The study found that 39 percent of smartphone owners make purchases with their handheld devices once a month.

Additionally, 60 percent of mobile owners use their smartphones to help them shop every month.

The study broke down results to split between smartphone owners and active mobile consumers – users who engage with their devices to help make purchasing decisions.

According to the study, more than two-thirds of active mobile consumers are 16 to 24 years old.

Additionally, 31 percent of active mobile consumers are Baby Boomers and are aged 45 to 64 years old.

The study also points to the rise of social media as a factor in driving mobile purchases.

As a whole, mobile shoppers were more likely to be influenced by recommendations from friends, family and customer reviews than traditional promotion channels, including store displays and store associates.

“Social networks allow mobile shopper to know what their peers and friends reviews want, which in turn impacts them,” Mr. Lewis said.

“Mobile is an intimate tool and this data is interesting because it shows how powerful mobile users are in the retail industry,” he said.

Save on mobile
One of consumers’ main reasons for using mobile is to save money and find the best deals, per the study.

The study found that 37 percent of active mobile consumers are willing to have brands track them so that they can get the best deals and offers.

“It shows how plugged in consumers are and in exchange want to save money,” Mr. Lewis said.

Additionally, more than half of active mobile consumers had used a mobile coupon app in the past six months in the study.

Also in the past six months, almost one-third of active mobile consumers engaged with a price comparison tool, and 29 percent used a mobile loyalty program.

“The data shows that mobile users are beyond impulse buys,” Mr. Lewis said.

“The high conversion rates are proof of a mobile presence,” he said.

More than half of active mobile consumers surveyed were willing to use their location to get offers and deals.

“This data is a huge in helping brands and companies with their mobile model, particularly with in-store and loyalty programs,” Mr. Lewis said.

“It is easy to dismiss mobile as an extension of the consumer-level of awareness, but brands need to be plugged into it as well,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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