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Older generations adopt a shopping-initiated move towards mobile: study

Older generations including boomers and seniors are embracing the use of mobile devices throughout the shopping experience, according to a new report from The Local Search Association.

The results of The Local Search Association’s 2014 “Local Mobile Trends Study,” conducted by Thrive Analytics, reveal that older boomers and seniors, those 54 years old and above, are increasingly using mobile devices as an informative aid for product purchases, as well as for digital expenditure. The results are a wake-up call for marketers concerning the importance of mobile’s expansive adoption across all generations.

“For years, local marketers have perceived mobile as a platform that appealed primarily to Gen Y,” said Neg Norton, president of The Local Search Association, Troy, MI. “However, data show that strong numbers of older boomers and seniors are also using their smartphones throughout the local shopping experience.

“Interestingly, there is more in common with how smartphone users of all ages are using their mobile devices to search for and interact with local businesses,” he said. “Local marketers who fail to recognize the strong and growing prevalence of mobile usage by older boomers and seniors will miss out on an opportunity to reach this large demographic with huge purchasing power.”

In-store reliance
Sixty-nine percent of older boomers and seniors said they used their smartphones at least sometimes when shopping in-store.

Mobile usage in-store

While mobile has become inherently engrained in the shopping experience, usage will only continue to increase, especially with the elder generations. Recognizing this trend allows businesses the opportunity to target consumers via mobile within all age brackets.

Comparing for discounts
Smartphone users of all ages admitted that price comparison and discounts were their main objectives when using mobile devices in-store.

Fifty-one percent of older boomers and seniors reported comparing and contrasting price, with just a one percent drop when admitting to being incentivized by coupons or offers.

It is obvious that smartphone users rely on their devices to help them save money. Businesses need to become proactive in ensuring their in-store prices are competitive with surrounding bricks-and-mortar merchants, as well as with online retailers.

Coupon offers, discounts and promotional activity should also be accounted for, and easily accessible, as the thought of getting a deal lessens the likelihood that consumers will stray.

Making decisions
Eighty-five percent of older boomers and seniors said that browsing via mobile in-store helped them become more educated shoppers in deciding whether or not to purchase an item.

Local businesses should strengthen their mobile presence with a focus on why a consumer benefits from their goods or services. There should also be an availability of reviews, discounts and displayed competitiveness of prices so consumers can feel confident in buying.

Location sharing
While only 30 percent of older boomers and seniors said they would share their location with others or “check in” at a local business through their smartphone, the responses changed when the panel asked what circumstances would change their minds about offering that information.

Sixty-two percent of the group said they require the ability to gain loyalty points, rewards or benefit from an offer/deal in exchange for sharing their whereabouts with a brand or retailer.

Offers via text
Similar to location, almost half of all older respondents are willing to share their phone number to receive text messages in exchange for incentives.

Consumers can be reached directly by marketers via text message

Retailers should use this data to secure direct access to consumers on an ongoing basis to keep them engaged and informed about their offerings.

As smartphones permeate the shopping experience, local businesses must build strong relationships with their target groups by incentivizing existing and potential customers through mobile offers and discounts.

“When developing mobile strategies for their clients, local marketers should always rely on data and insights to develop the tactics they employ to reach their target customers,” Mr. Norton said. “For example, based on the results of our survey, a local business catering to older boomers and seniors might devise a mobile strategy focused on encouraging older boomers and seniors to take advantage of an offer and reward.”

“Local marketers should also remember that mobile is just one of many platforms available in the local path to purchase,” he said. “Marketers that integrate multiple platforms to reach consumers wherever and however they enter that path will be the most successful.”

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York