Corporate Eye

The Growing Impact of Mobile on Purchase Decisions

shopping bag iconThis year, nearly 146 million people in the United States will shop using mobile devices. They’ll be “window” shopping as well as researching and comparing different types of products and specific brands. Over 102 million of them will actually make a purchase using a mobile device this year.

Those statistics come from eMarketer and put the importance of mobile marketing into perspective. However, the mobile marketing funnel is longer than you might think.

According to research from Ninth Decimal, consumers start browsing, researching, and comparing products long before they make a purchase online or in a brick-and-mortar retail store. The study found that 81% of U.S. mobile users browse, research, and compare products, brands, and stores well before they ever visit a brick-and-mortar store to buy.

As you might expect, the more expensive the product, the longer the mobile marketing funnel is. The research found that consumers started their mobile research 45 days before making a purchase for products with price tags at or above $1,000. That doesn’t mean low-priced products get little mobile “shopping” time. The research found that consumers started researching items from $1-$49 using their mobile devices 10 days before buying.

This mobile shopping research doesn’t stop when consumers get into a brick-and-mortar store either. Nearly one in five U.S. mobile users (19%) continue their research using their mobile devices while they’re in stores making their final purchase decisions.

For marketers, this growing reliance on mobile “pre”-shopping is extremely important. The Ninth Decimal study revealed that mobile users are more likely to engage with mobile retail ads before they visit a store and make a purchase decision. In fact, nearly three in four (73%) of mobile users claim that they actively engage with mobile ads before they hit the stores while 27% claim that they engage with mobile ads while they’re shopping.

What do consumers want brands to offer in their mobile ads? Discounts and sales won by a landslide among respondents to the Ninth Decimal survey. In total, 60% of U.S. mobile users who responded to this survey claimed that they would respond to mobile ads that included discounts or sales. That’s nearly double the number of people who said they’d engage with mobile ads that offered product reviews (36%) or product information (35%). Faring even worse for marketers in this survey were giveaways (25% of respondents would engage), directions to the nearest store location (21%), offers or information about other products the consumer might like (13%), and style tips (7%).

How is your brand engaging with mobile consumers early in the marketing funnel? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Morgan Akens

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.