Monday, February 18, 2013

Migration to Mobile I - How is Consumer Behavior Changing?

The long-awaited mobile revolution has finally materialized in the United States. It took us longer than other parts of the world, but now that it’s here it is indeed revolutionizing the way consumers do many things.

The graphic and lengthy quote from the NPD Group shows the continuing flow of activity from desktops to tablets and smartphones. According to their press release 37% of consumers who once accessed content from their desktops now access from tablets and smartphones. Does that imply “all the time” or “some of the time?”  That’s not clear. The graphic shows Internet browsing and Facebook to be the two activities benefitting most from the switch. “Twenty-seven percent of smartphone owners have decreased both their Internet and Facebook usage on their PCs because they now use their smartphone for these activities,” they say, so the answer appears to be “some of the time.”

What surprises me most is in the text; smartphones lead tablets in the percentage of consumers who are switching to mobile access. Thinking about that, I believe the answer is not in larger screens per se; it’s in the fact that more people own smartphones than tablets at this point. For Pew research on the subject see:

• Changing activities of cell phone users 
• Current activities of smartphone users   Note that Pew identifies 2012 as the tipping point where more consumers are using smartphones than traditional cell phones.
So the switch is underway. What are they doing; what content are they accessing? The Marketing Sherpa chart shows more brand interaction, peer input, and product and pricing research. New purchasing behavior and payment methods are down the list, but I’d expect them to increase as consumers become more comfortable with mobile. Will showrooming continue to be a curse to retailers? Not clear. Local also seems to be on the upswing, and I’ll return to that in a later post.

Consumer behavior is being changed by the availability of mobile and improved mobile experience. What can we expect as 2013 moves on? In its 2013 predictions Mobile Marketer calls it SoLoMoCoDa, with Co mmerce increasing (along with Da ta) fueled by NFC and other developments in payment platforms.

They’re not so much doing different things; they're doing things like search and Facebook on different screens. More about that in the next post.

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