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Millennials More Comfortable with M-Commerce

Younger shoppers show different mobile behaviors

September 16, 2011

As m-commerce becomes more widely adopted, distinct demographic characteristics are emerging. More smartphone and tablet owners are researching products than purchasing them—80.8% compared to 41.4%, according to BIGresearch—but attitudes vary quite a bit among different age groups.

A majority of US consumers surveyed by Barkley considered online shopping to be an important convenience, but a gap between generations emerged when mobile devices were introduced into the equation. Nearly twice as many under-35s vs. older respondents agreed that being able to research and buy products on the go was a true convenience. Twenty-nine percentage points also separated the two groups on the matter of using a smartphone or tablet as a research aid while shopping.

Attitudes Toward Shopping According to US Millennial Consumers vs. Consumers Ages 35-74, June 2011 (% of respondents in each group)

The inclination to make impulse purchases also appears to be tied to smartphone shopping. Half of the millennials surveyed admitted to that tendency. However, these spur-of-the-moment shopping sprees aren’t necessarily wallet-busters.

According to a report by Myxer, a mobile technology company, a plurality of mobile buyers (37%) spent less than $5 per purchase, on average. Among the 18-to-24 set, 80% of these purchases were music downloads and only 3% were physical goods. This shifted with age: 57% of those ages 35 to 54 bought music, while 11% bought items.

This split is also apparent in payment preferences. Millennials wanted charges to appear on their phone bills—perhaps because the figures were not significant—while the older group favored credit cards, the more traditional approach.

Preferred Payment Method for Mobile Phone Purchases According to US Mobile Phone Users, by Age, June 2011 (% of respondents)

The one thing mobile buyers of all ages agreed on was that convenience was the No. 1 driver of m-commerce behaviors. Thirty-seven percent of all respondents cited this as the reason for participating in mobile shopping, followed by price (24%). Even if current mobile shoppers buy different things and pay in varying ways, connecting with potential m-commerce users comes down to emphasizing its convenient nature.

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Check out today’s other article, “Hispanics’ Digital Dexterity Defies Stereotypes.”


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