Study Finds Half of Americans Shopping with Mobile Devices

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Chicago–Whether it’s comparing prices of TVs, ordering a morning latte or reading restaurant reviews, mobile shopping has become a way of life for Americans. According to a new study released this week by Arc Worldwide, Leo Burnett’s marketing services arm, 50% of Americans use a mobile device to navigate about the fast-paced online shopping scene.

Indeed the trend of using mobile devices is gaining traction so rapidly that it’s changing traditional shopping and leaving retailers with a serious ultimatum: deliver valuable mobile experiences or risk losing customers, the study’s researchers said.

“Mobile shopping has created multiple paths to purchase,” said William Rosen, president and chief creative officer of Arc Worldwide. “It has completely transformed the way people research and purchase products. Companies looking to crack the ‘mobile code’ must understand shoppers’ unique demands by category and shopper type, which we have carefully explored in this study.”

The study, entitled “Marketing to the Mobile Shopper,” identified five key findings retailers should note when implementing mobile shopping strategies:

1) Mobile Shopping is a Love/Hate Relationship: Mobile shoppers are split into two groups–heavy and light shoppers. “Heavies” are forever attached to their mobile device and love experimenting with new apps. “Lights” are just the opposite, viewing their mobile as an inferior “on-the-go” version of their computer, doing basic mobile shopping activities including, looking up store hours and locations.

“While the majority of recent retail and brand mobile efforts have focused on the needs of heavy mobile shoppers, we learned this group is actually quite small – about 11% of mobile phone owners,” said Molly Garris, digital strategy manager of Arc Worldwide. “There’s a new group of phone owners, light mobile shoppers, whose needs are not being met. Brands often ask me if they should build a mobile website or mobile app. With these very different types of mobile shoppers, the answer is both!”

Garris added that Light shoppers are the future of mobile shopping and eventually will become more familiar with their mobile devices evolving into heavy mobile shoppers. When this evolution takes place, the mobile shopping population will increase by 50%.

2) A New Car Purchase? Looking to Shake Up Your Morning Latte order? Your Mobile Can Help You Do Both: Shopping for big ticket items, which once required time consuming research and planning, is now being treated casually as people rely on their mobile to do “the work.” In contrast, simple tasks like buying your morning coffee now get more careful consideration due to expansive mobile apps allowing customized interactions and experiences. Depending on the product, be prepared to satisfy shoppers by offering mobile shopping experiences that touch both ends of the spectrum.

3) Mallrats of Yesterday Are Today’s ‘Got A Minute’ Mobile Shoppers: Americans want a spontaneous and fluid mobile shopping experience. Waiting to pick the kids after school? Do some “bite-size” shopping and grab the latest Groupon. Sitting in the doctor’s office? Enjoy some “downtime” shopping and browse the local department store’s circular. On the go all day? Go for “always” shopping and check that eBay bid. To meet consumer’s needs, marketers need to create relevant mobile interactions that are in tune with their audiences’ day-to-day lives.

4) Instant Gratification Is King: Today’s mobile shopper searches for a new outfit, orders take-out and scoops up the latest Lady Gaga album with just a few taps on their mobile. To succeed in this fast-paced landscape, retailers must provide value-add mobile apps and websites. To reach all types of mobile shoppers, retailers should activate both mobile on the go and mobile in-store interactions.

5) Manufacturers and Retailers Unite! Work together to create a one-stop-shop for mobile shoppers to collect discounts, view product specifications and inventory status. This comprehensive experience pulls shoppers through the purchase and may encourage a similar transaction process in the future.

“Mobile gives companies the power to market in a way that no channel ever has before by uniting the power of digital, promotion, retail and database marketing,” said Rosen. “From researching and browsing, to buying and recommending, shoppers expect meaningful and useful mobile shopping experiences. The stakes are only getting higher as more and more shopping moves onto mobile.”

Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide “Marketing to the Mobile Shopper” Methodology

In December 2010, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide conducted a nationwide quantitative survey interviewing 1,800 U.S. mobile phone owners. In addition, a smaller qualitative research study was fielded with 30 mobile shoppers. The respondents used webcams and flip video to capture their mobile shopping experiences.

About Arc Worldwide

Arc Worldwide is the global marketing services company of the Leo Burnett Group specializing in cross-channel activation. With expertise in digital, direct, promotion and shopper/retail marketing, Arc develops creative solutions that measurably impact behavior on behalf of the world’s leading marketers including McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company, Procter & Gamble, MillerCoors and others.

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