Commentary

Is There A Prime Time For Mobile Shopping?

Everything has a prime time both media consumption and activities.  It may not always be particularly marked, but it’s generally there.  Sometimes, there is more than one clear statistical peak in the day. (Drive-time radio is a longstanding example.)

One of the more recent behavioral phenomena to emerge as a consistent pattern in a specific time span: mobile shopping.

Although clearly a pursuit of a minority of the adult population, when including shopping via the mobile Web and using apps, all indications are that total numbers are growing — both total mobile shoppers and total spend.  While this is good news for the mobile industry, retailers still view mobile shopping with uncertainty as they strategize how to deal with the much-reported threat of “showrooming” or comparison shopping.

According to USA TouchPoints data, in terms of total reach within the 18-64 population, those shopping via mobile in an average week account for a little over 6% reach with a slight skew to women.

Of those, just over 19% shop this way during the week and almost 27% do so on weekends.

In terms of dayparts, the clear candidate for prime-time status right now appears to be late afternoon to mid-evening — 4 p.m.-8 p.m., during which average reach among mobile shoppers never drops below 8% and gets as high as 13%.  

This is perhaps surprising, considering this is also when families return home, meals are prepared, people commute etc. It is also an indication of when some of the feared comparison shopping is concluded.  Are these the post-browsing and window-shopping hours?

Interestingly, this is not all a young persons activity. While 18-34 years olds are best represented at just over 9% weekly reach, 18-49-year olds are not far behind at 7.5% and 25-54-year olds register 6.5% reach.  

While it is possible that the younger demo may increase their mobile shopping more quickly than the other groups, there is really nothing to suggest that in the data, the ubiquity of the mobile phone is a key factor that would mitigate against a really significant divide opening along age lines.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, auction-based purchases via mobile (like eBay) attract higher levels of reach on an average weekday at 6% (perhaps monitoring bids or items previously placed via computer) and coupons sites and apps, such as Groupon, attain higher reach over the weekend at 8.5% of mobile shoppers.  

This may be a reflection of the expansion of the category beyond the strict confines of the deal of the day model to something users can gain value from in a manner more in keeping with their lifestyles — catching up on recent deals they saw or missed.

However, a the variables stand now, they will undoubtedly continue to show increases in volume as mobile shopping establishes its place as we enter this holiday season and beyond.

 

 

 

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