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MBPT Spotlight: Marketers Get Greater Insights Into Mobile’s Use By Consumers in Adobe Survey

Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to aid in their physical shopping experiences—from researching and comparing products, to looking up customer reviews, to locating specific products within retail stores—this according to the “Adobe 2014 Mobile Consumer Survey.”

The international survey identifies a segment of mobile consumers it defines as “mobile elite” users who spend more time and money on mobile devices compared to more general mobile users. The mobile elite make up 22% of online U.S. adults and are furthest along on the mobile mind shift, connecting frequently on multiple devices from myriad locations and using a variety of applications.

Adobe surveyed 3,050 mobile users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and Germany.

Mobile elite users skew more heavily in the younger segment of users, specifically ages 18-29, and in the middle-age segment (30-49) rather than the in older segment of 50-64. The 18-29 segment makes up 34% of the total mobile user group, compared to the 30-49 segment total of 36%. And then the 50-64 segment includes 30% of the total number of mobile users measured in the survey. Overall, mobile users skew more male (53%) than female (47%).

The survey found that consumers continue to turn to smartphones as their primary mobile device over tablets, with 84% of respondents saying they use smartphones.

However, those who use tablets spend a considerable—and growing—amount of time on them, the survey finds. A total of 39% of consumers age 30-49 spend between 1-4 hours daily on their tablets, up from 26% in 2013. And 39% of older consumers (50-64) also spend between 1-4 hours a day on their tablets, up from 28%. Finally, 32% of younger consumers (19-29) spend that same amount of time on their tablets, up from 26%.

The survey found that consumers use their tablets for many reasons, including engaging with content, communicating through email, playing games and viewing videos. The young segment is increasingly using tablets for shopping, with 52% saying they do so in 2014 vs. 43% in 2013.

Understanding the mobile consumer market is more important today than ever—with insight being the key—but “many marketing departments and organizations are still ramping up their mobile analytics, optimization and delivery platforms,” according to the survey, which stresses that marketers need to put those programs in place quickly to help them understand consumer usage of mobile.

“With mobile consumers interacting with businesses from multiple devices—and even cross-channel, such as starting from Facebook to a mobile site or app and then moving offline in a store or physical location—it is important for marketers to understand the variety of journeys on which their consumers embark to consider how to optimize the mobile experience.”

The survey questioned respondents about their mobile usage in a few different categories.

Financial Services

The survey found that the majority of consumers who engaged with financial services via mobile in 2014 reported having an overall positive experience. Only 11% of those surveyed said they had a bad experience in the previous six months. On the other hand, 52% of general mobile consumers and 64% of mobile elite consumers said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with accessing financial information via mobile websites.

What financial service activities do mobile users engage in? Eighty percent of all mobile users and 88% of mobile elite users frequently review bank account information or check balances. Also, 63% of all mobile users and 80% of mobile elite users conduct bank transactions, including paying bills and transferring funds. Then, 49% of all users and 67% of mobile elite users frequently make personal payments via PayPal or similar banking services. And 21% of all mobile users and 44% of mobile elite users frequently review brokerage accounts, individual stocks or mutual fund positions. Of those surveyed, 19% of all users or 39% of mobile elite users research or shop for new financial accounts or insurance policies. And 10% of all mobile users or 21% of mobile elite users apply for new financial accounts.

“The depth of time spent with these transactional activities underscores the importance of building out analytics and optimization within those apps,” the reports says.

Media and Entertainment

“Mobile has transformed the way consumers interact with content, particularly for media and entertainment companies,” the report states. “Across the board, the percentage of consumers who reported engaging with media was higher than any of the other mobile sectors surveyed. The audience for media on mobile is potentially huge. Media and entertainment companies need to hone in on the activities that consumers report participating in most often, learn whether consumers prefer mobile websites or apps for engaging with content and understand how media mobile elites are different than general mobile media consumers.”

The study found mobile consumers have mixed preferences for apps vs. mobile websites for performing different activities and this can add to the complexity marketers have in trying to reach those consumers.

Mobile consumers say they prefer apps when it comes to social (59%), games (58%) and music (57%). However, they prefer mobile websites for magazines (60%), sports (65%) and news (65%).

“Mobile users who prefer mobile websites might not want to download an app to consume the content,” the report says. “Consequently, media companies [and their advertisers] need to carefully prioritize which channels should be supported to reach the most valuable audiences.”

The most frequent media activity engaged in by mobile consumers is following social (58%), with 74% of mobile elite users doing so. Also, 39% of mobile consumers post on social platforms compared to 59% of mobile elite users. And 41% of mobile consumers engage in accessing local content, compared to 55% of mobile elite users. While 40% of mobile users play games, compared to 52% of mobile elite users, 9% of mobile consumers watch live sports via mobile, compared to 18% of mobile elite users. And 11% of mobile consumers watch streaming TV via mobile, compared to 22% of mobile elite users.

Travel Services

In the area of travel services, mobile elite users were twice as likely as general consumers (45% vs. 22%) to say they frequently book their travel via mobile, making that segment a priority for travel companies.

Travel services accessed by mobile users grew considerable in 2014 from 38% of users in 2013 to 47% in 2014, which the survey says, indicates that “travelers are becoming much more comfortable with mobile as a travel research and planning tool.”

One important note for travel services companies, the survey points out, is that more than 54% of consumers reported finding travel websites through search engines, which was the highest percentage of any category surveyed, “indicating that travel websites are not as strongly branded and do not retain the level of customer loyalty of websites in the other market segments.”

Shopping For Consumer Products

Purchasing products via mobile increased 4% in frequency as an activity in 2014, the survey found. At the same time, consumers are looking to their mobile devices to help assist their overall shopping and product education process. Respondents accessing customer ratings and reviews via mobile in 2014 increased from 41% in 2013 to 47% in 2014.

The survey found that mobile elite users reported purchasing more than $750 worth of products via mobile over the past 12 months and preferred mobile apps for shopping over regular websites and mobile websites.

The survey says, “The key takeaway for providers of consumer products is that across the board, consumers prefer mobile apps for shopping and therefore, they should tailor their mobile strategies to prioritize apps.”

Among the percentages of mobile respondents who frequently engage in various consumer products activities: searching for product and price information, 58%; checking customer reviews, 47%; searching for online coupons or promotions, 40%; purchasing products, 36%; and searching for product comparisons, 31%.

Shopping For Consumer Electronics

Purchasing of consumer electronics products via mobile was flat compared to 2013. However, consumers seem more likely to use mobile devices to help aid their overall shopping and education process with frequent usage of online promotions, specials or coupons jumping 8% in 2014, and accessing customer ratings and reviews increasing 5%.

Consumers in the survey reported shopping for consumer electronics fairly evenly between accessing mobile websites (34%) and apps (35%).

Some other findings in the survey:

• Facebook is still the primary social network accessed by mobile users (75%), similar to the 75% figure in 2013. Google+ grew to 20% in 2014 from 26% in 2013; Twitter fell to 25% from 28%.

• 17% of females use Pinterest vs. 5% of males and 19% of females use Instagram compared to 13% of males.

• U.S. mobile users are more likely than Europeans to use Twitter (30% vs. 21%); Instagram (24% vs. 10%); Pinterest (21% vs. 4%); LinkedIn (17% vs. 7%); and Snapchat (11% vs. 6%).