Reaching the mobile phone shopper

4/16/2013 10:33:00 AM

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Demand for mobile phones shows no signs of slowing down - in fact, according to one study smartphone subscriptions in the US increased by 50% year over year in 2012*. There are many ways to purchase a phone today, and even more choices and options that come with it. To better understand how people shop for mobile phones, Google teamed up with Compete to look at shopping patterns for mobile phones and how they have changed over the past year.

Here are some highlights from our findings:

Devices drive more purchases; less buy to upgrade
Year over year, 25% more consumers purchased a phone to get the latest and greatest device while 9% less purchased because they were eligible for an upgrade. In fact, 1 in 3 smartphone buyers select a phone first, then a carrier.

More choices, more online research
The proliferation of non-exclusive devices at carriers has resulted in more switching, brand uncertainty and cross shopping. One in 3 shoppers switched carriers (up 39% YOY) and nearly half (47%) considered two or more carriers when shopping for a phone (up 193% YOY). In addition, most shoppers are undecided on a phone model with 66% considering 2 or more models.

With all the choices available to shoppers today, it’s no surprise that 80% of all mobile phone shoppers research online - in fact they use twice as many digital sources this year compared to last. Most shoppers take 2+ weeks to research, visit more than 3 brand websites while shopping, and conduct 7 searches on average while researching a phone.

Potential switchers research differently: They are far more likely to have a broader research process (eg. searching on non-brand terms like “best smartphone”).

More shopping for phones on phones
More shoppers are now researching across all screens - the number of people using mobile phones and tablets to research mobile phones has more than tripled over last year. A third of these shoppers said they use mobile devices to research online while they’re in a store - 47% of people using devices in a store viewed a product description, 39% checked the price at other locations, and 38% looked for discounts or offers. However, while the majority of shoppers research online, most people will still complete their purchase of a mobile phone in-store.

Test driving with video
Online video has grown to become an important source of information for people shopping for mobile phones. People in the market to purchase a mobile phone were 4X more likely to watch online videos about mobile phones than last year. And they’re spending a considerable amount of time watching videos. Thirty-four percent of those that watch videos about mobile phones spent 30+ minutes watching videos during the research process.

We also found that watching videos online drives action:

  • 4 out of 10 people who watched an online video about mobile phones visited a store to look at the product
  • 20% of people who watched a video shared that video with friends or family
  • 79% of shoppers who saw an online video ad about mobile phones looked up the advertiser for more information

Younger shoppers buy more expensive phones
Younger adults spend more money on mobile phones than any other age group - 62% of 18-34 year olds spend $100+ on phone purchases - making them a valuable consumer segment.

What does this mean for your brand?
Based on what we learned about the path to purchase for mobile phone shoppers, here are a few insights for wireless advertisers:

1) New devices seem to drive more purchases year over year so a strong product launch campaign is important to win and retain customers. Make the most of key launch periods by amplifying campaigns across the web - and on all screens.

2) The proliferation of non-exclusive devices seems to have resulted in more switching and cross-shopping, so engage shoppers when they research. Each time a consumer searches on a wireless term (eg. best smartphone) or views wireless content online (eg. cell phone review) is an opportunity to either retain or acquire a customer.

3) Focus on 18-34 year olds since they tend to spend more on phones. Younger consumers tend to be more likely to use digital for both entertainment and research so it’s important to reach them where they spend the most time.

4) Drive consideration and action with digital ads. As consumers spend more time with online video, it can be beneficial to generate demand for your brand with video ads. Consider capturing consumer interest with search ads. In our study, we found that exposure to search ads on category and OEM terms could triple brand consideration compared to those wireless searchers not exposed to ads.

5) Reach prospective customers with search ads on category terms. Potential new customers search differently than existing customers. Shoppers that search on category/non-brand terms are more likely to be prospects than those that search on brand terms.

To download the full research report, visit Think Insights.

Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Technology Team

*Mary Meeker Internet Trends, Dec 2012


Liam Smith said...

Thanks for an insightful post. I just had to + this. Consumers are definitely becoming more clever with the ability to research expensive products well in advance before purchasing them.

Consumers can now make more smart decisions compared to years ago. Organisations such as which? YouTube and various consumer review websites allows this.