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46pc exclusively use mobile for researching local products, services: study

The second "U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study" found that 54 percent of mobile users consult additional media sources to aid in their purchase decision while 49 percent use a PC as their primary media resource. The results suggest that mobile users are searching earlier and more often for locally-relevant information.

?What was really interesting this year was how important mobile is becoming not only as a media for more urgent or immediate needs but for research in general,? said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing, xAd Inc., New York. ?What we found is about a third of shopping-related activities are now coming from a mobile device.

?We found that a lot of the users, especially on the mobile device, because they tend to have more urgent needs than tablet users, they were looking for local relevance a lot of times,? she said. ?Because of that you see them looking for specific information such as maps and driving information and contact information.

?About 60 percent of the consumers who were surveyed said that while they were searching and looking for information, they expected these businesses to be within five miles of where they were currently at.?

Local relevancy
A key finding from the report is that 50 percent of all mobile users rely on their device at the beginning of the research process. Additionally, one out of three users use their device throughout the entire purchasing process.

A important takeaway is that local relevancy and promotions are a critical factor in influencing the purchase decisions and conversions of mobile users, who cited location, local offers and promotions as the top reasons for purchase selection.

The survey found that nearly one out of three smartphone users and one out of four tablet users reference their device specifically for contact information such as a phone number, address or map and driving directions. Additionally, 60 percent expected businesses to be within walking or local driving distance from their current location.

Behavior varies by category
These findings suggest that marketers who want to reach motivated, ready-to-buy mobile users should be focusing on placing local identifiers prominently, especially in the beginning of the purchase cycle.

However, mobile behaviors vary by industry and category, meaning marketers need to understand and shape their campaigns based on users? mobile purchase habits, including preferred research tools, activities and mobile purchase influences.

For example, the immediacy of need can vary significantly depending on the category, with gas and convenience and banking and finance-related needs tending to be more immediate, happening immediately or within a day.

However, in the Retail and Insurance categories, needs were less urgent, with one-third happening within the month or longer.

Overall mobile users across the categories studied had very high purchase intent with 60 percent of smartphone users and 53 percent of tablet users having completed purchases related to their mobile activity.

?What we found in our research is that the conversions are happening on smartphones but they are not happening online,? Ms. Ho said. ?The conversions when they are happening on smartphones, the majority are happening offline.

?For retail, 77 percent of the retail purchases that came from research done on the smartphone happened offline, in a store or via a phone call,? she said.

Overall, the study found that 53 percent of all mobile users and 74 percent of smartphone users are making their purchases offline or in-store.

Planning accordingly
Other findings include that for smartphones, 57 percent of searchers go directly to the branded app or Web site as well as that nearly 60 percent of all mobile users and nearly 80 percent of tablet users indicated using their device at home, signaling that mobile usage is starting to cannibalize desktop/PC usage.

The report is based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. smartphone and tablet users that was conducted by Nielsen.

?We did see some very distinct difference across the different categories that we studied, not only in regards to urgency of need and where the purchase is happening but also in regards to the type of sites that these consumers were accessing,? Ms. Ho said.

?Because there are these very distinct differences, marketers really need to understand these differences by category and make sure that they are planning their media accordingly,? she said.

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