Mobile Phone Is New ‘Shopping Buddy’ For Young People

New research from MasterCard announced at the World Retail Congress in Berlin, shows how mobile phones and social media are playing an increasingly important role in shaping how younger consumers shop and select retail brands. 

The study, carried out by InSites Consulting for MasterCard, looked at the shopping habits of around 1,200 young people aged 18-30 in the UK and Germany during August 2011.  The research examined their use of technology and social media when shopping in two categories: grocery and fashion.

Young people in the UK are very active in using their mobile phones to access the internet, with 62 per cent regularly doing so.  Figures are lower in Germany with just 34 per cent regularly using mobile to go online.  Similarly, purchasing items over the internet is far more common in the UK: For grocery retailers, 30 per cent regularly shop online in this sector, vs. just 15 per cent in Germany.  However online purchases in fashion are similar for both countries, with 20 per cent in Germany and 28 per cent in the UK saying that they regularly buy from fashion retailers online.

During the grocery shopping experience in Germany, the most common reasons for using a mobile phone is to compare prices, make a shopping list and look for discounts and deals.  While in the UK the most common reasons for using a mobile while shopping for groceries is to compare prices, search for product information and to check in via social media such as Facebook or Foursquare.

For fashion shopping, the three most common reasons in Germany to use a mobile were making a shopping list, finding a store location and comparing prices.  While in the UK it was to find a store, compare prices and make a shopping list, in order of preference.

Commenting on the findings, Elizabeth Wolgemuth, Group Head, Global Merchant Marketing at MasterCard Worldwide, said: “This demographic group has grown up with mobile phones and is inseparable from these devices. The mobile phone is their key tool to interact with the world, whether that is keeping in touch with friends, organising their lives or shopping and finding out information. 

“This research will help retailers understand how this group uses mobile phones – not only to shop, but to build a relationship with a brand, build loyalty and source information from retailers, as well as from their wider online social network and independent influencers,” she added.

The research also asked what information they would like to receive on their mobile when shopping.  German grocery consumers cited the ability to get product information by scanning barcodes in store, discounts via location based social media such as Facebook and Foursquare and special deals for smart phone users.  UK grocery shoppers would most like to see more discounts via location based social media, special deals for smart phone users and in store information via barcodes.

Confidence levels in buying online are higher in the UK with 38 per cent feeling it was safe to make purchases with a smart phone, versus 17 per cent feeling comfortable with this method of purchase in Germany.

The survey also revealed that for German young consumers, email is their favoured way to be contacted by retailers, whereas in the UK consumers prefer to interact with a retailer via the website.  For both nationalities, text messages from retailers were the least popular way of receiving information.   These findings applied equally to both grocery and fashion retailers.

Joeri Van den Bergh, Managing Partner of InSites Consulting and the research report’s author, commented: “Retailers need to understand the technology they can develop with companies such as MasterCard, which will allow them to connect with this group and the mobile phone centric world in which they live.” 

“By understanding the preferences for interaction and the mobile usage habits of this group, retailers can engage more fully.  They can build sales, loyalty and most importantly, a strong affection for their brands through this channel, if used properly,” he added.

 

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