Study: Mobile “Showroomers” Generally Buy In Stores, 18–34-Year-Olds Most Active
Millennials most likely to buy from competitors and on mobile devices.
We learned over the weekend how prominent mobile devices were in the Black Friday shopping melee. And while a growing number of purchases are happening on mobile devices, smartphones are primarily being used by consumers to find store locations, check hours information and do price comparisons while in stores.
In a new mobile shopping study, using Prosper Insight survey data, the IAB examined the attitudes and self-reported behaviors of different age groups. It found shopping activity that was broadly consistent but varied somewhat by age category, with 18–34-year- olds emerging as the most aggressive group when it comes to mobile “showrooming.”
The IAB defines “showrooming” very expansively to refer to in-store mobile price comparison activity and not necessarily in-store shopping with a premeditated intent to buy online (e.g., via Amazon). Using this definition, the IAB analysis found that the majority of those doing in-store mobile price comparisons were still inclined to buy in physical retail stores.
However, the behaviors and the ultimate purchase destination varied by age group. The most common smartphone-related shopping activity across age groups was checking store hours and locations. (Tablets operate much more like desktop alternatives in terms of shopper behaviors.)
When it comes to in-store “showrooming,” the IAB study found that more than half of US adults engage in the activity (again very broadly defined) but are then most likely to buy in a physical store. They are equally likely to buy in the immediate store or a competitor’s physical store.
By comparison, Millennials are the most aggressive showroomers in the original sense — using physical store inventory to confirm what they want to buy elsewhere. According to the data, Millennials still tend to buy in physical stores (albeit elsewhere) but are also much more likely than other groups to buy on smartphones.
There’s other data in the report that’s not covered here, such as tablet shopping behaviors and use of comparison shopping apps. The full report is available from the IAB’s website.
The one caveat I would add is that these findings are based on survey responses and not actual sales or transaction data. While attitudes and behavior are typically consistent, that’s not always true.