Gender And Age Impact Mobile Path To Purchase

Like most things, product research and content consumption on devices differs considerably by age and gender. The latest iteration of an annual tracking study by Nielsen, Telematics and xAd finds, for instance, that women are responsible for 70% of the time spent exploring restaurants on their devices. Other categories like entertainment, telecom and auto are dominated in terms of time spent by men, but dining out is something women really drill into for longer sessions than men.

Curiously, even though men overall are spending the most time exploring key product categories on their phones, it is women (47%) more than men (36%) who regard their phones as most important in product research and decision-making.  Women also tend to use their devices more at home than men do, but they are making purchases on their phone slightly more often than men.  

But time spent is not the only fair measure of how gender impacts mobile behavior. In the entertainment category, for instance, men spend more time exploring, but women are hitting a greater variety of content types. Men tend to focus on sports and movie tickets along with video games, but women are buying entrances to events, audio books, entertainment downloads and concert tickets. Similarly in restaurant content, men are doing less and usually restrict themselves to casual dining information. Women are all over this category, investigating all dining and drink options.



When it comes to auto research, men are focusing on car parts, oil changes and new cars, while women are focusing more on used cars and car service.

Most people come first to mobile early in the decision process, with 51% of both men and women having no clear idea what they are looking for. In the end, women spend more time making decisions on their devices. Still, overall 63% of mobile users say they go on to make a purchase based at least in part on their mobile activity. Men, however, are slightly more driven by brand than price in making their final decision, while women are more focused on price.

When it comes to age splits, an interesting phenomenon emerges between generations. GenXers actually spend more time in key content areas on their phones than do Millennials. Of course, arguably, Millennials are more occupied with peer-to-peer activities like messaging and social media than other segments. But when it comes to entertainment content like streaming, sports tickets and video games, Millennials over-index considerably over older users. Entertainment on mobile is more a part of their everyday lives, while older segments tend to access devices more for special occasions or for audio book use.

Millennials tend to be more active across more categories of research for most products. For instance in telecom content, Millennials are looking into mobile accessories, service, devices and household serve, while Boomers tend to focus on household service. Likewise in restaurant research, the youngest segment is looking up bars, coffee shops, delivery/takeout and fast food, while GenXers are after casual dining and bars, and Boomers are searching for casual and fine dining.

Not surprisingly, Millennials are most likely to say they value mobile as the most important platform for making purchase decisions, but they are the least likely to rely solely on devices for the path to purchase. In fact, it is  the Boomer group that is most likely to use mobile exclusively for a purchase decision. Nevertheless, it is the Millennial group that is most likely to use mobile throughout their purchase decision-making. Also not surprisingly, these youngest users are more driven by price than any other demo.

The path to purchase was always a complex human behavior to track. I have heard some researchers insist they have never actually seen a path to purchase, in that purchase decisions are too individual and idiosyncratic for easy generalization. Mobile raises the level of complexity by introducing a new layer of variable that are determined in part by comfort with the technology along with when, where and by whom the device is being used -- and for what purpose.

The full study is available online

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