At Perception Research Services International (PRS), we recently conducted research to find out how smart phone users are actually using these hand-held gadgets. First of all, we found out that ownership of smart phones is rapidly approaching levels of traditional mobile phones (36% vs 53%), and most smart phone owners (83%) use them while shopping. Interestingly, they’re not being used solely for big ticket items such as appliances (39%) and electronics (59%), but also for everyday items such as groceries (49%).
Similar to how consumers have shifted from paying in cash for purchases to debit cards another transition is taking place. For instance, Starbucks has seen a significant uptick in the number of people who pay for their purchases (or coffee experience) with a mobile application. As one news outlet put it, “Starbucks is the worldwide leader in mobile payment transactions”. The manner which we have integrated the use of smart phones into our daily tasks is revolutionizing business transactions.
Our research into smart phone usage further indicates that smart phone owners, who use their phones while shopping, most often utilize them during the decision making process (comparing prices, gathering product information, searching for sales/coupons or reading reviews/opinions), and about one-third make actual purchases with their phones.
Importantly, Hispanics and African-Americans are more apt than Caucasians to use their Smart phones while shopping. Smart phone owners, who use their phones to shop, tend to be under 35 years old, are employed full-time and are better educated than the average consumer.
Most recently, I read that some retailers are bringing mobile shopping to commuters. First, Tesco was exploring this space in Asia and now commuters in Philadelphia are able to scan the QR code on posters located in transit stations to order groceries and have them delivered to their home the same day!
Marketers would do well to ensure that they understand the role of smart phones and digital content – relative to packaging and POS materials – in the shopping process within their categories. They need to ensure that all their communications are complementing each other and working together. And retailers should now consider how they set their shelves and create merchandising that is “smart phone-friendly.”
About the author
As Executive Vice President, Director of Account Management, Jonathan oversees the company’s client services function including account management and marketing communications, and also manages client relationships for qualitative and quantitative studies. He is highly sensitive to the information needs of designers while also having a researcher’s ability to ask questions in an effective and appropriate manner. He is particularly adept at illuminating the risk of making wrong decisions as well as the opportunity cost of missing out on the right ones.
Jonathan has over 30 years of experience in consumer goods marketing beginning as a project director for Newman Stein, Inc. He also held research positions with Thomas J. Lipton (now Unilever) and the Lorillard division of Loews Corporation. Jonathan entered the design field by joining Gerstman+Meyers (now Interbrand) where he was vice president, director of marketing services. He went on to lead The Coleman Group where he developed the company’s proprietary strategic services. From there, he established the New York office of Dragon Rouge, a leading, privately held European design agency.
A frequent speaker and lecturer on topics pertaining to marketing and design, Jonathan, has been quoted in major publications including Fortune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Brandweek, and Advertising Age.
Jonathan is also a Distinguished Faculty Member at the Path to Purchase Institute (formerly The In-Store Marketing Institute). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.