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Mobile increasingly the only tool used in purchasing decisions: report

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Clicks not an accurate measurement for mobile advertising

Forget mobile "playing a role" in purchase decisions; in certain categories it is increasingly the only media outlet consumers are consulting before making a purchase, according to a report released today by xAd and Telmetrics.

Dining is one category where mobile is dominant, with 60 percent of consumers using only a smartphone to pick a restaurant and 40 percent a tablet. Other key findings from the third annual xAd/Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase study include that 42 percent of mobile users consider mobile the most important resource in their purchase process and more than one-third of mobile shoppers turn to mobile exclusively.

“Previously we’ve shown that mobile is becoming an important part of the shopping process but now we are seeing trends really show it is becoming a pretty dominant part, depending on the category you are talking about,” said Monica Ho, senior vice president of marketing at xAd, New York.

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“A lot of times when people think about mobile and purchase process, they think, that makes sense because they are looking for the store from which they are going to purchase from, so it is very lower funnel,” she said. “However, what is really interesting is that we found that two-thirds of mobile consumers are starting their process with mobile, not just ending with it.

“So, it shows that mobile can be used throughout the purchase process, not just at the lower end of the funnel.”

Path to purchase
Despite the prominent role of mobile in making a purchasing decision, the report also found that 54 percent of mobile-driven purchases happen offline and 52 percent of mobile shoppers report visiting a physical store.

According to the report, which is based on a survey of 6,000 U.S. smartphone and tablet users, other categories where mobile plays a big role in the path to purchase include telecom, auto and entertainment.

In the automotive category, 35 percent used only a smartphone in their purchase decision and 16 percent a tablet. In entertainment, 40 percent used only a smartphone and 31 percent a tablet.

In the telecom category, 15 percent used only a smartphone and 15 a tablet.

PC cannibalization
The findings also point to continued cannibalization of PC use by mobile, with half of smartphone mobile shoppers engaging with their device at home, which is up 66 percent since last year. Additionally, mobile accounting for 64 percent of time spent online.

“There is still some very strong online behaviors that are happening on desktop but we are seeing a very strong trend, where even though their desktop is available, they just prefer to go online via their mobile devices,” Ms. Ho said. “And we saw that more of that happening in homes more than ever before.”

Mobile users convert in high numbers , with two out of three ultimately making a purchase and an additional 16 percent planning a purchase in the near future.

The purchase rate is even higher in the restaurant category at 80 percent.

Other key findings include that most mobile activity is happening at the beginning of the purchase cycle, when users are more open to influence. Only 20 percent of mobile users said they knew exactly what they were looking for, which is down from 34 percent in 2013.

Fast movers
The research-to-purchase cycle is fast on mobile, with 65 percent completing their purchase within the day.

In the restaurant and entertainment categories, that cycle is reduced to an hour.

The report also highlights the importance of location to mobile shoppers, with 52 percent of mobile consumers wanting a location within 5 miles and more than 10 percent of auto and telecom shoppers expecting locations within walking distance.

Location lookups and price are still the heaviest purchase-related activities.

However, interest is growing in mobile reviews and contact information. When it comes to contacting a business, up to 53 percent of mobile shoppers make a call.

An important takeaway for marketers is the need to have seamless experiences for consumers no matter which screen they choose to engage with a brand.

“We are finding that when that purchase cycle is a lot longer, it has a lot more desktop that is integrated into that entire purchase process,” Ms. Ho said.

“For the longer consideration purchases, we are going to continue to see desktop have an important role but, for lower consideration purchases, those are the categories where you are going to see mobile the predominant media,” she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

Associate Editor Chantal Tode covers advertising, messaging, legal/privacy and database/CRM. Reach her at chantal@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Research, mobile path to purchase, xAd, Telmetrics, Monica Ho, mobile marketing, mobile

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