As post-PC devices become the preferred access point for all kinds of interactive activities, the term "mobile" may require some redefinition and reconsideration among marketers. To wit: in its latest survey of shopping behaviors on devices, Nielsen finds that 95% of tablet shoppers and 72% of smartphone shoppers who actually use their devices to buy stuff are doing it on devices but in the home. TV prime time, it turns out, is mobile -- I mean device shopping time, with two-thirds of tablet shoppers and about 80% of tablet shoppers doing these activities more at home than out and about.
While the overwhelming majority of all shopping-related behaviors on tablets occurs in homes, a great number of smartphone users are engaging in pre-shopping and post-buy behaviors right alongside them. For instance, 86% of those writing product reviews on smartphones (19%) are at home, as are 71% of those posting comments on a product to a social network (19%). Even when it comes to reading product reviews, 62% of that smartphone activity is happening in the home.
The tablet is still the device of choice when it comes to buying an item, with 38% of owners saying they do so on tablets. But 24% of smartphone owners now say they use the smaller device to make purchases as well.
Which is not to say that mobile isn’t, well, mobile. Price-checking is for handhelds out in the field, where 50% of these lookups occur. Store locators are most often accessed in the wild, with 56% occurring on smartphones when the user is commuting or in transit. Once out the door with a device, 70% of smartphone shoppers are using the device for planning and checking the store location. The shopping list has become a mobile fixture now for 37% of smartphone users.
It is worth noting that despite the homebody reputation of tablets, until now there is some evidence they are venturing beyond the front door. When Nielsen asked about using shopping lists, 30% of the 13% who use tablets for lists said they did so in-store.
The findings do more than just suggest that mobile is not mobile. First, of course, they remind us that home is where the device is most of the time and where people have the time and inclination to drill deep. They also remind us that devices have become the go-to point of entry for online information, replacing the most uncomfortable way yet devised for consuming content -- the desktop PC. But most of all, they remind us how much of shopping is an iterative, multi-screen process that occurs over time (according to category) and has both preparatory and post-buy stages. Mobile, apparently, is present at all of them.