A new study from public Wi-Fi provider JiWire suggests that mobile location-based services will be a hot item this holiday season. According to the company's latest trends report, almost 90% of its users will likely turn to location-based apps and services during the holiday shopping season.
Even assuming that JiWire's users are more tech-savvy than typical U.S. consumers, that still sounds like an awfully high percentage that will be accessing Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places and the like. Research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project released earlier this month found that only 4% of U.S. online adults are using geosocial services.
JiWire emphasized that its audience is made up of tech enthusiasts, most of whom have apps on their smartphones and iPads and are likely to use location-based mobile offerings during the holidays.
Most (61%) of the 1,200 users surveyed by JiWire said they would use location apps to find stores, followed by product reviews (36%); find what's in stock at local stores (33%); and connect to social networks. Nearly two-thirds also said they have used the "find a store location" within an ad.
The results also showed that 30% are willing to travel more than five miles to redeem mobile promotions, especially for entertainment, retail or restaurants. This suggests that extending campaigns beyond storefront check-ins to a wider local area will attract at least customers in certain segments.
"Consumers are demanding a wealth of location information that spreads across branding, product detail and discounts, allowing brands to build bigger campaign strategies," according to David Staas, senior VP of marketing at JiWire.
Among other findings, 21% of JiWire customers had redeemed mobile coupons in the past 90 days and almost half (49%) are open to checking into venues with mobile apps. Of that group, 29% are looking for deals and 17% just want to share their location.
The JiWire study comes on the heels of other reports indicating that mobile will play a bigger role in consumers' shopping plans during the holidays. More than a third (36%) of online users plan to rely on their mobile phones for shopping-related activities, according to a survey by comparison-shopping site PriceGrabber.
A separate survey conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association and Luth Research in October found that 59% of mobile users will use their phones for mobile shopping and planning holiday celebrations. A quarter said they were already using their mobile phone more for holiday shopping than last year.
JiWire's quarterly Insight reports highlight market trends for advertisers and provide a snapshot of usage trends among people who access data over public Wi-Fi. JiWire's ad-supported network of 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide at cafes, airports and hotels draws more than 20 million unique visitors monthly.