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Consumers Turn to Tablets to Research Purchase Decisions

Multidevice usage common among consumers researching products and services

Online’s role in researching products and services has been well documented, but a study from Local Corporation conducted by the e-tailing group offered greater insight into the role of mobile devices—particularly tablets—in the purchase-decision process.

Not surprisingly, desktop and laptop computers are no longer the only means of performing digital research. Findings showed more than 60% of North American consumers researched products or services multiple times a month via a mobile device, pointing to a growing trend among internet users to use various digital devices to inform their purchase decisions.

Tablets certainly played a role in this process, with 80% of all tablet owners surveyed saying they used their tablet to research and buy products. The study found 23% of respondents did so in conjunction with their desktop or laptop PCs. In addition, 19% of tablet users also turned to their mobile phones to research and make purchases.

Overall, tablets were found to be an ideal device for researching and vetting product purchases. Half of tablet users in the study said they turned to the device to research products prior to a store visit. The same percentage also strongly agreed the tablet was an ideal tool for researching products prior to purchase, and 42% said the better viewing experience on tablets made them want to shop more on this mobile device.

“Now research is about anywhere and everywhere,” said Sherry Thomas-Zon, vice president of local shopping at Local Corporation, in an April 2012 interview with eMarketer. “Overall, consumers are using mobile devices more, and that’s a growing trend on tablets. It makes sense to research, browse and buy on a tablet, and we suspect that’s driving usage there.”

Thomas-Zon said Local Corporation is particularly interested in better understanding whether growing use of mobile devices within the purchase process will ultimately take away from research and purchase-related activity that’s conducted on PCs.

Q4 2011 findings from interactive marketing agency Rosetta validated the importance of the traditional online PC experience for researching and purchasing products: 39% of US tablet users said a computer was still the preferred device for shopping for new products and services.

Though PCs may have the advantages of screen size and flash-enabled capabilities commonly found on brand and retailer websites, the ability to expand, rotate and interact with products on tablets in a more dynamic way via touchscreen technology is particularly valuable for the consumer looking to carefully evaluate potential product purchases—assuming those sites are mobile-optimized to take advantage of the rich tablet experience.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Consumers Use Local Searches to Find Restaurant, Automotive Information” and “Email Spending Low, but Influence High in the UK.”

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