New Study Shows More Consumers Making Purchases On Mobile Phones; 90M Smartphone Users In U.S. Alone

The smartphone’s enhanced Internet access and applications have captivated the hearts of consumers. More than half of U.S. mobile phone owners browse mobile Internet, use apps or download content, according to a recent Mobile Retail Advisor study conducted by comScore, a mobile research firm. In an effort to understand the impact of smartphones on the mobile audience, the study surveyed mobile media users, defined as consumers who utilize browsers; applications and/or native emails; stream or download music; and/or broadcast or utilize on demand video.

During a recent webinar presented by comScore, titled, “Handheld Shopping: How Mobile is Changing the Retail Environment,” survey results showed that the mobile audience using just voice has declined 15% year-over-year while mobile media usage has grown 19% in the same time period. In June 2011, for the first time, retailers indicated that most consumers who purchased a phone were purchasing a smartphone.

The convenience of a smartphone goes beyond the ease of use and QWERTY keyboard. Today, consumers utilize smartphones to gain product information such as product functionalities, appearance and ratings. More than half (67%) of smartphone users have performed shopping activities, as opposed to the 29% of non-smartphone users. “Fueled by smartphone adoption, mobile is becoming a central part in the shopping funnel for many consumers,” said Mark Donovan, Senior Vice President for Mobile, comScore, in a press release. “In September we saw two-thirds of all smartphone owners perform shopping activities on their phones, including comparing products and prices, searching for coupons, taking product pictures or locating a retail store. Considering there are currently 90 million smartphone owners in the U.S., retailers without a well-developed mobile strategy are not only missing a tremendous opportunity with these customers but also risk becoming obsolete in the minds of these digital omnivores.”


Addressing the most popular shopping items among smartphone users, the study showed that digital purchases such as movies, music and TV shows placed at the top. Trailing behind were clothing/accessories, tickets, daily deals and certificates.

The increased amount of mobile purchases can be attributed to the consumer’s better understanding of the technology and willingness to trust secured sites. Based on the survey results, there are still some consumers who still have security concerns (32%); prefer to make purchases in person (28%); consider their mobile screens to be too small (24%); and are confused when utilizing their mobile phones to make purchases (12%). On the contrary, consumers who have turned to mobile devices are aware of the on-the-go convenience. In fact, more than half (63%) view this convenience as a key highlight and unique characteristic for smartphone devices. Additional reasons why consumers make purchases on a smartphone instead of online or in-person include:

  • Available special offers/coupons;
  • Easy to compare prices and find the best deal; and
  • Product is not available in the store.

Although price comparison and the best deals were noted as primary reasons for making smartphones purchases, the study showed 77% of smartphone consumers would be “swayed to a store” with coupons. Approximately two-in-five smartphone consumers subscribe or visit daily deal/flash sales sites on mobile phones and over three-in-five do so on a PC, according to the comScore study.

Donovan highlighted that a vast majority of consumers who have not purchased via their mobile phones are open to doing so. Also, mobile couponing and deals will find a large audience; 79% of smartphone owners have used or are interested in using coupons or deals.

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