A new Lightspeed Research study of 1,000 iPhone and Android users found that mobile is emerging rapidly as a device central to the purchase process, especially on weekends.
The data collected by Lightspeed shows that mobile phones are most commonly used for research (32%), comparing prices (27%) and reading product reviews (25%). Consumers estimate that 35% of their research and purchase activity for big-ticket items is conducted on their mobile phone.
And they go directly to their phones: 62% say they used their mobile phone at the beginning of the process, when they first thought about buying the product. Common sense says that mobile use in the purchase cycle will only increase as phones and connectivity become more sophisticated.
Mobile devices have also become the go-to source for news and information, besting traditional media like newspapers. When planning weekend activities, more than two-thirds use their mobile devices, either apps or Internet. Only half use newspapers.
Mobile consumers also use their devices differently on the weekends than they do during the week. From Monday through Thursday, news and business information are key. As the weekend approaches, consumers substitute entertainment for business, and we see a rise in movie and entertainment app use (Flixster, Fandango, IMDb, MovieFone, Yahoo Movies, Netflix) at the expense of news (CNN, New York Times, MSNBC.com, NPR, Fox News) and business information (Monster, Job Search, Cisco WebEx, Harvard Business Review, Box.net).
This primary use of mobile has a ripple effect: When planning to go to a movie with friends, 58% use their mobile phone to research nearby restaurants. Another 36% will research shopping opportunities near the theater. Four out of 10 prefer their mobile device to coordinate with friends via social networking.
The demos and shopping behavior of mobile users are becoming more attractive every day. Six out of 10 iPhone and Android users shop at big box retailers at least one or two weekends/month, and more than one-third eat at a casual dining restaurant before a movie. They are avid shoppers; top items include clothing, travel (air, hotel), and mobile phones. Last year, more than one-quarter purchased a laptop computer; the same number will buy tablets in the coming year.
As has been the case with the evolution of all other media forms, where audiences go, advertisers will follow.
But in the case of mobile, marketers are still in the experimental stages. Although mobile claims 8% of media time spent, it gets a fraction of ad dollars. Per eMarketer, TV gets about 43% of ad dollars to match the 43% of media spent each day. What needs to change? Consumers are already willing to take a look at mobile ads. In fact, this recent research found that one out of five consumers is favorable to ads on their mobile devices, with 11% welcoming them. Another 30% are neutral.
I expect that as mobile becomes central not only to how we live, but to how we shop, that brands will recognize that they must fish where the fish are and accelerate their mobile spending.