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How Big Will Mobile Be This Holiday Season? It’s A Numbers Game

October 28th, 2010

What if they want to use their non-smartphones to research a holiday purchase? Basic texting and other features make that possible. By not asking that group about M-Commerce purchases broadly, we can’t tell much.

Also, the survey never differentiated between intended M-Commerce research and intended M-Commerce purchases. Although both are important, not knowing how many 18- to 24-year-olds even intend to consummate any purchases is a huge loss.

To be fair, it was a long survey, and it could only cover a small number of M-Commerce questions. But there is probably more than enough interest to do a study solely on M-Commerce.

Those concerns aside, the numbers themselves are fascinating. Given the immaturity of the mobile space—coupled with the relatively small number of major retailers who have put any serious marketing muscle behind their young M-Commerce moves—it’s pretty impressive that almost half of that particular age group plans to do that much M-Commerce activity.

But it can also be flipped. We’re not merely talking about all 18- to 24-year-olds. The universe for this question is the subset of 18- to 24-year-olds who happen to have smartphones. Of that group, the majority (55 percent) apparently plan on zero holiday M-Commerce purchases and just as little M-Commerce research. That answer suggests most of that very mobile-loving group says they won’t do a single comparison shop, price scan, check-in or inventory check, let alone make a purchase directly.

“Considering that mobile is still in its infancy, I think that [45 percent saying they will do M-Commerce] is pretty tremendous,” said NRF VP Ellen Davis.

Consumers in that age range use their smartphones “for a whole host of reasons other than shopping,” such as texting, games, checking E-Mail, Facebook, getting directions and taking/sharing photos, Davis said. “Shopping may be the farthest thing from their mind. It’s important to remember that, when it comes to smartphones, the mobile shopping component is secondary to a lot of people.”

Goodfellow echoed that sentiment, saying the 18 to 24 segment is “a very fickle age group” who sees shopping as “a very social experience.”

In other words, the act of getting together with friends at the mall or at a department store may be much of the fun of holiday shopping. The efficiency of M-Commerce—and, to a slightly lesser extent, E-Commerce—appeals to someone who wants to get the purchases made as quickly and painlessly as possible. Those people want to simply get to the destination, if you will, rather than enjoy the journey.


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