Mobiles' role in purchasing decisions becoming more prominent

A third of people now use only their mobile to make a purchasing decision, according to recent research from location based marketing company xAd. 

It's clear that for today's consumer, buying a product isn't as straightforward as going to a store, searching for what you want and then handing over cash.

And why would they? With more choice than ever in terms of price, location and personalisation, consumers are now best placed to buy at a time that suits them, however they want to do it. This does present a challenge to marketers however in getting their particular brand's voice heard over that of everyone else clamouring for a bit of the attention.

To delve into this area further, xAd asked 1,500 smartphone users in the UK about how they use their devices to research and buy products - something it's been doing since 2013.

Their study examines how consumer relationships with mobile and physical location affects purchase behaviour and decision, and the findings are outlined in xAd’s 2016 U.K. Mobile Path to Purchase.

Smartphones make the best research tools

Smartphones turned out to be the most important means of customer research on a product or service, with 39% saying so, compared to 19% three years ago.

This apparently differs by sector though, as fast food restaurants "rely heavily" on mobile according to the stats, while for the retail and auto areas, laptops and desktops are the most used.

Research that people like to carry out via their smartphone tends to be around finding the price and location of a particular product or service. This changes when they're out and about to searching for directions. 

The survey also found that most people like to buy in-store even after researching something on mobile (36%), but a similar amount (35%) go on to buy via their smartphones.

In-store research counts too

But mobiles are, of course, not the only place consumers go to research a product or service. Driving people in-store for research purposes has its benefits, the report said.

Over half of survey respondents said they visit a location as part of their research before buying something. 

But this may be a quicker process on mobile. The research shows 56% of people tend to make their minds up quickly and buy something immediately or within an hour after researching on their mobile. 

There are however factors that influence this. Proximity is one, with 43% of those using mobile for retail shopping expecting a particular business to be within short driving distance, and 20% within walking distance. 

Theo Theodorou, Head of EMEA, xAd says that for marketers, understanding how people are using their devices to consider purchases is critical, "especially under the lens of location and real-world visitation being the highest indicator of purchase intent – to provide the best, most relevant brand experience at the optimum time." 

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