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Half of all cell phone owners used their device during holiday season for shopping

Mobile phone use is blowing up

According to a new report by The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, over half of all adult mobile phone owners used their mobile phones during the 2011 holiday season for shopping purposes. During a 30 day period before and after Christmas to call others for advice, look up reviews or do price comparisons.

More than one in three cell phone owners used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase they were considering making, one in four used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store, and one in four used their phones to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store, to see if they could get a better price somewhere else.

While half of all mobile phone owners used their phone for one of these reasons, one third of all respondents used their phone specifically for online information while inside a physical store to look up pricing or product reviews.

Not surprisingly, mobile phone owners aged 18-49 are most likely to use their phones for online product reviews, and only 4 percent of mobile owners over 65 did so. Rural cell owners are less likely to look up online reviews or price compare with their devices than their urban and suburban counterparts.

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Fascinatingly, Caucasian mobile phone owners are less likely to use their device to look up online product reviews. Similarly, college educated device owners are more likely to look up online reviews or price compare with their device.

Mobile price matchers

One in five “mobile price matchers” ultimately made their most recent purchase from an online store, rather than a physical location, the study revealed.

Pew notes that when asked what happened on the most recent occasion where they used their phone to look up the price online of a product they found in a store, these mobile price matchers point to a range of outcomes:

  • 37 percent decided to not purchase the product at all
  • 35 percent purchased the product at that store
  • 19 percent purchased the product online
  • 8 percent purchased the product at another store

There is no question that the role of cell phones is altering buyer behavior, which we would assert shows the value of companies to be present in some form online, especially at large chains which we anticipate will more frequently implement tools like Digby’s mobile platform which will ultimately augment a mobile user’s shopping experience and give retailers extremely useful information like when shoppers physically enter and leave their store, and what products they look up while in the store.

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Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Honest Don

    January 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Didn't run the numbers myself, but I'm pretty sure more than half used their mobile phones during the 2011 holiday season. Sheeet, its the best way to stay in touch with family.

    Did you mean 'Half used their phones to shop or assist with shopping?'

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