New Research Shows 50% of Americans Use Mobile Devices For Shopping; Spotlights 5 Attributes Of Mobile Shoppers

Smart phone technology has ushered in a new shopping channel, as consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to search for product information, compare prices and purchase items. As retailers continue to refine go-to mobile market strategies, new research affirms that the mobile channel is becoming a more prominent shopping method.

According to a new study released by Arc Worldwide, Leo Burnett’s marketing services arm, 50% of Americans use a mobile device to navigate their shopping journeys. This trend is quickly shifting the way that consumers shop and discover, which ultimately challenges retailers to deliver a valuable mobile experience.

“Mobile shopping has created multiple paths to purchase,” said William Rosen, President and Chief Creative Officer of Arc Worldwide, in a press release. “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, titled Marketing to the Mobile Shopper, identified five key attributes that retailers should consider when implementing mobile shopping strategies:

1. 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, while “lights” are just the opposite, viewing their mobile as an inferior “on-the-go” version of their computer, and do basic mobile shopping activities, such as 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 web site or mobile app. With these very different types of mobile shoppers, the answer is both!”

Light shoppers are the future of mobile shopping and with time will become more familiar with their mobile device evolving into heavy mobile shoppers. When this evolution takes place, the mobile shopping population will increase by 50%, according to Arc.

2. Mobile shoppers rely on their phones to “do the work” for them: Simple tasks, like buying morning coffee, now receive more careful consideration due to expansive mobile apps allowing customized interactions and experiences. The study cautions retailers to cater to shoppers’ needs by offering mobile shopping experiences that touch both ends of the spectrum.

3. Yesterday’s “mallrats” are today’s “got a minute” mobile shoppers: Due to their busy schedules, Americans want a spontaneous and fluid mobile shopping experience. The appeal of mobile shopping is that it’s instant and consistent. Mobile shoppers often do “bite-sized” shopping, such as buying the latest Groupon deal. To meet consumers’ needs, marketers need to create relevant mobile interactions that are in tune with their target customer’s day-to-day lives.

4. Instant gratification is king: Because consumers can shop more efficiently on their mobile phones, it has become a preferable channel for quick shopping. To succeed in this fast-paced landscape, retailers must provide value-added mobile apps and web sites. To reach all types of mobile shoppers, companies should activate both mobile on-the-go and mobile in-store interactions.

5. Manufactures and retailers should work together: In order to create a one-stop-shop for mobile shoppers to collect discounts, view product specifications and locate inventory status, retailers and suppliers should work collaboratively to  foster a more comprehensive experience, which will pull 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,” Rosen said. “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.”

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