As e-commerce extends into mobile technologies, growing numbers of hyper-connected consumers are making smartphones a regular part of their purchasing processes. This worldwide trend is moving fastest in certain emerging markets, where switched-on consumers are proving more apt to embrace m-shopping than are their developed market peers. New research shows that just 16 percent of US online consumers have used a mobile device to shop online, far short of the 50 percent in China, 48 percent in Singapore, and 42 percent in India.
After more than a decade of tracking consumers’ use of digital technology, global communications company Havas Worldwide has undertaken a major study to look at emerging paths to purchase around the world. Working with research partner Market Probe International, we surveyed 10,219 adults in 31 countries, representing a combined population of more than five billion. Already, 43 percent of all those we surveyed have used a smartphone to check for a better price or for customer reviews online while shopping for a product in a store. In the United States this emerged as a large minority practice adopted by 32 percent, whereas it’s already a standard approach to shopping for 74 percent in China, 62 percent in India, and 58 percent in Singapore.
Many consumers are using more than one device for their online shopping, although desktop computers are still the main go-to device in all countries. Overall 80 percent have shopped through a home computer, 24 percent through a work computer, 25 percent through a mobile device, and 14 percent through a tablet.
“Our study explores how consumers are moving on from the last decade’s relatively simple and static model of e-commerce to the more complex and dynamic systems of m-shopping, using a mix of fixed and mobile devices,” says Matt Weiss, global chief marketing officer of Havas Worldwide. “This shift is most pronounced in Asia, where wider adoption of m-shopping is giving brands and developers great incentive to push through new m-services. They’re well placed to be ahead of the curve in the coming generations of m-shopping technologies and systems.”
Highlights of the study include:
· Among developed markets, Germany is the most mobile-minded, with the second-lowest percentage (47 percent) shopping through a home computer and the highest (40 percent) shopping through a smartphone.
· Globally, more than a third (34 percent) of respondents say they are comfortable purchasing products and services through their smartphones, but there are big differences between respondents in the US (26 percent) and those in China and India (64 and 54 percent).
· Overall, 78 percent worry at least occasionally about their security when shopping online, but Latin countries are much more prone to online shopping anxiety. Just more than half (54 percent) of respondents in Brazil worry every time they make a purchase online, as do 49 percent in Chile, 43 in Colombia and Mexico, and 32 percent in Argentina, Similarly 37 percent in France and 33 percent in Italy are every-time worriers.
· More than 3 in 5 respondents (61 percent) trust peer reviews of products and services more than they trust expert reviews. Here, too, percentages are far higher in China and India (87 and 74 percent), as well as Brazil (78 percent), than in the US (58 percent).
· Contrary to popular opinion, consumers are not more apt to share bad experiences than good. More than half (53 percent) say they are equally likely to share good and bad experiences, and another 22 percent are more likely to share good experiences than bad. That’s great news for retailers, given that almost 4 in 10 (38 percent) say that finding a single negative comment online can dissuade them from completing a purchase.
· Just over half (52 percent) like to share their brand experiences via social media (as distinct from review sites), and 38 percent have changed their minds about purchasing a product or service based on something they read on a nonbranded blog or social media site.
· Consumers are ambivalent about the presence of brands in social media. Around 4 in 10 find that brands on social networking sites are intrusive. At best, brands need to earn their place by being responsive to complaints made through social media channels (53 percent expect them to be) or by offering discounts or prizes (42 percent).
“Brands and their marketers need to understand that mobile technologies are far more than just desktop digital in a handier format, especially in markets where desktop is not as common,” says Marianne Hurstel, vice president, Havas Worldwide’s BETC and global chief strategy officer, Havas Worldwide. “They are radically changing the consumer-brand relationship. Mobile devices provide each consumer with a personal 24/7 media space in which they control who and what appears—although, as we have learned of late, apparently not who is monitoring their activities. These devices foster expectations of easy access to information, worthwhile interactions, and immediate responses from their brand partners. And they create what may seem like erratic behavior as consumers repeatedly check their mobile devices and change their courses of action on the fly.”
“The evolution of digital from a desktop paradigm to a mobile paradigm makes it far more difficult for marketers to retain consumers’ attention,” says Matt Weiss. “In markets where smartphones are the norm, brands must aim to create preference by developing apps that make transactions quick and seamless, and that offer more value than the consumer can find elsewhere. More and more, this will mean making smart use of data to engage people at point of purchase with tailored offers that convince them to close the deal.”