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

October 28th, 2010

The social nature of 18- to 24-year-olds might push them to embrace in-store more, while the time-strapped older consumer might find the faster purchase more attractive.

Beyond being time-strapped, those older consumers (please note the unease with which I describe anyone born before 1986 as “older”) are also often cash-strapped. Therein lies another M-Commerce differentiation. M-Commerce (and E-Commerce) research is often focused on product price comparisons, with an eye on finding the best deals possible. That’s often less of a priority for younger consumers, which suggests another reason why their M-Commerce research is not as high as it could be.

But statistically, this is a balancing act. Although the older consumers may have more practical reasons to use M-Commerce, they do not have the extreme comfort (bordering on co-existence) that many younger consumers have with their mobile devices.

The percentage moved from the 45 percent for the 18 to 24 age group to 43.5 percent for 25- to 34-year-olds and then plunged to 26.4 percent for 35- to 44-year-olds. At the 45 to 54 age group, it plummeted again, this time to 15.3 percent, while the 55 to 64 age group registered a 10.4 percent M-Commerce intent and “65+” went single digits, with 6.9 percent. (Ever get the sense that the survey writer who chose to lump 98-year-olds in with 65-year-olds is probably not in that age range?)

For what it’s worth, the only salary distinction offered (less or more than $50K annually) made relatively little M-Commerce-embracing difference, with the less-than group at 23.3 percent and the more-than group at 30.3 percent. Geography also made almost no difference, with the four regions mentioned (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) all showing results in the twenties. The Northeast and South were essentially the same (28 percent and 28.3 percent, respectively) and the West was trivially lower (27.8 percent), with only the Midwest showing any deviation (22.8 percent). But with everyone in the twenties, even the Midwest drop is hardly significant.

So what does this all mean for retail IT and E-Commerce execs who are trying to plot out mobile investment levels? StorefrontBacktalk recently partnered with Forrester Research, and that retail exec survey revealed an alarmingly high percentage of retailers (21.3 percent) who said they have no plans for any M-Commerce programs in the next 18 months. And almost half of those surveyed choose “none of these” when asked if they allow customers through a mobile site or a dedicated application.

This result suggests that quite a few chains are taking a wait-and-see approach. I think the NRF numbers make it clear that although consumers may plan on using mobile for different things, it’s still a key part of their lifestyle. The low numbers (which aren’t really that low) are more likely consumers who are simply not seeing that many interesting mobile offers being made.

In short, launch those aggressive mobile programs and you’ll find a willing audience.


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