Mobile Prodigies And In-Store Shopping: The Smartphone As Muse, Stylist, Retail Inspiration Hub

Smartphones represent more to Mobile Prodigies than just a tool for communications, entertainment, or a pathway to purchase. This demographic grouping’s mobile devices represent deeply personal spaces.

Among the cross-section of Millennials and Gen Z consumers that we studied in our recent report, “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies” (surveying more than 3,000 people aged 14 - 29), we learned, for example, that Mobile Prodigies view smartphones as an environment for organizing their lives. They even approach them in ways similar to how they approach their homes — using mobile devices to store, interact, and develop memories; to work, communicate, and make art; to keep track of contacts, to connect and foster relationships.

When it comes to buying habits, more than 1 in 4 Mobile Prodigies said they use a mobile phone while shopping in a physical store, seeking guidance, input, and validation from friends and family on their screens. In one example, Heidi, 25, told us that Pinterest “is my portable mood-board when I am in need of inspiration for buying clothes.”



Their phones are also leveraged in-store to provide them with immediate access to detailed product features and benefits as well as user reviews. When discussing how she uses her smartphone while shopping in-store, Stephanie, 25, exclaimed, “Reviews! I use my phone to find reviews on makeup, especially if I am buying a new brand. There is so much great information out there on what to use and how to use it.”

Lastly, Mobile Prodigies told us that they use their mobile devices to enhance their interactions with in-store sales associates. Chantal, 17, shared a story about “the time when I wanted some shoes from Zara but couldn’t describe it to the lady, and so I pulled up my app to show her the item number.”

The following data from our research further show the degree to which Mobile Prodigies have integrated mobile experiences with their in-store decisions, moving through the consumer shopping cycle with their devices in hand.

  • 80% of Mobile Prodigies prefer to use smartphones to search for inspiration and to research items they may want to buy. 
  • 95% of Mobile Prodigies make in-store purchases based on ads they’ve seen on their mobile device.
  • Among Mobile Prodigies, 61% buy in-store based on a mobile ad at least monthly (with almost one-third driven to in-store via mobile ads weekly).
  • 73% said the convenience and efficiency of smartphones make their shopping experiences more enjoyable.

Recent evidence from other studies echoes these findings. Iris Worldwide, for example, a London-based creative agency, recently found that among Millennials and Gen Z not one shopper “admitted to making spontaneous purchases while shopping in a store. They appear to be so caught up in both gaining approval and exerting influence on social media that every purchase comes in the context of a whole cycle of posts, likes, and tags.” 

Positive results depend, however, on content that compels, that engages, and that dovetails contextually with what Mobile Prodigies are doing — bonding with friends; the tactile experience of touching and feeling products; evaluating quality in person. 

It is our industry’s challenge, then — and it is mobile marketing’s imperative — to create meaningful on-screen mobile experiences that intersect with these behaviors. Creative experiences must hone in on what data tells us these consumers like and want, based on past behaviors. And then marketing must take the next step — anticipating what will inspire Mobile Prodigies in the future. The consumers we are grouping under this new term expect more from their smartphones. And so, mobile marketers must innovate to ensure that the roles of their devices — stylist, muse, and a hub for in-store inspiration — continue to serve Mobile Prodigies in all the ways they work, play, and live.

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