Study: Most Mobile Device Usage at Home

Late last week Google released data (captured and collected by Compete) about the role of digital media, mobile devices and video in US consumers' apparel shopping habits. Overall the data reflect the now many influences operating on consumer decision-making. It also shows how traditional media still play a meaningful role in purchase behavior: they create awareness and stimulate further research on digital devices. 

But rather than identifying "which 50%" of the media spend is truly effective, it seems that it is getting progressively more complicated for marketers and correspondingly difficult to correctly attribute sales or "conversions" to specific campaigns.

Q: How soon after the last time you saw or heard each of the following types of apparel ads did you look up the advertiser online to get more information?

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The Google-sponsored research, as mentioned, offers a range of findings. Below I examine some of the mobile-specific data.

Q: Which of the following online sources did you access on your mobile phone?

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The largest single category in the slide above is search. Google uses this data in part to impliedly make the case for mobile search advertising. But the more interesting interpretation of this slide is that search penetration on mobile devices (in this study and apparel category) is far less than on the PC where as much as 95% of the online population uses search engines. (There are other data showing greater mobile search usage.)

In the slide below, echoing lots of other data, most mobile consumers are comparing prices, looking for deals and reading product reviews on their phones (and tablets). 

Q: Which of the following did you do on your mobile device while researching or shopping for apparel?

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One thing that's interesting about the findings of this Google-Compete study is the fact that most of the mobile usage happened at home vs. any other location. At least among apparel shoppers, fewer of them are using their devices in stores than other survey data have shown. In other surveys numbers have been as high as 80% - 90% of smartphone owners using devices while in retail stores for various purposes. 

Q: From which of the following locations did you use your mobile device(s) (e.g., mobile phone and/or tablet) to shop for apparel?

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The fact that tablets owners and tablet usage are included in these findings may account for the smaller in-store usage figures. In addition, the sample size was relatively small (n=161). Regardless, it's accurate to point out that a considerable amount of smartphone usage happens at home. Accordingly, marketers cannot and should not assume that smartphone users are always "out and about" when consulting their devices. 

Though not explored in this study, it's also generally true that mobile research is followed up by online or in-store (rather than mobile) purchases.