By Susana Schwartz
The 35-to-54 age group shows the fastest rate of growth in terms of researching and transacting online
After talking to more than 1,000 mobile phone consumers in the United States, Oracle released information about how people today use mobile devices for shopping and commerce-related activities, as well as what they hope to do with mobile devices in the future.
In the study, it became apparent that consumers increasingly rely on their mobile devices to do comparisons and research before purchasing products or services. About 48% of consumers conceded they use their mobile devices to look up product ratings or to find promotions. One of the more surprising findings in the survey was that the 35-to-54 year old segment is the age group with the fastest rate of growth in terms of researching and transacting online. While the 18-to-34 segment still dominates for actual use, the usage in the 35-to-54 bracket nearly tripled.
For those older than 35, it was twice as likely they’d leverage a mobile device to research products and services than their younger brethren (growing from 19% to 36% for users aged 55 and older and 23% to 44% for those aged 35-54 from the previous year’s research). Of the younger respondents in the18-34 bracket, 60% said they use their mobile device to research products and services (up from 41 percent the previous year).
In addition, more than two times as many consumers aged 35 and older have made a purchase via a mobile phone since 2009, compared to a 74% increase for consumers aged 18-34.
“We found that the perception of the experience also varied in these two groups, as the younger demographic wants more self-service on the Web and more online access to information about their plans and accounts, while the older bracket prefers to learn about plans, devices and accounts directly from a customer service representative. While the younger people feel comfortable connecting via chat or click-to-call, the older people prefer to be able to talk to someone on the phone immediately,” said Kelly O’Neill,
product strategy director for Oracle-ATG.
What is also remarkable is that most carriers, according to O’Neill, fail to tailor their sites to accommodate those disparate preferences. “The younger generation is more likely to churn, so to fail to personalize or make things relevant to their desires means there is a higher chance of losing them to other competitors,” added O’Neill. She believes telecom providers have to continue to evolve to think more like retailers, which consumers increasingly want them to do. “Rather than compete with products and services alone, carriers have to embrace the idea that customers want their telecom providers to give them the same type of attention and personal experience they get in other industries,” said O’Neill.
That is particularly true as mobile technology continues to invite new business models for merchants and retailers seeking to partner with communications companies. “You cannot overstate the importance of streamlining mobile and retail services to enhance sales and the customer experience,” said Kelley, noting that the survey showed that mobile devices are enhancing the in-store shopping experience, with 28% percent of respondents admitting to using their mobile device for comparing products with competing brands, as well as visiting Web sites to acquire more product information, research product reviews and coupons.