Study: Growing “Mobile Fanatics” Segment Search More, Increasingly Shun PCs

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New consumer survey data from Thrive Analytics (for the Local Search Association) reflect the emergence of a large and growing mobile user segment dubbed “mobile fanatics.” Just over 40 percent of the US smartphone population, these mobile users search more and rely more on their mobile devices than conventional smartphone users.

The segment is defined as mobile users who “conduct at least 10 searches per week on at least two devices from multiple locations.” According to comScore data, internet users in the US conduct an average of about 17.5 searches a week. While the report doesn’t identify mobile search query volumes at the high end, it’s clear that PC and mobile search queries are approaching parity.

Last year Google representatives projected that mobile queries would overtake PC volumes this year — though there’s been no formal confirmation of this to date.

Device most commonly used when looking for location information online

Local mobile search dominance

One of the more provocative findings from the survey is that mobile devices are now used more often for local search and to find local information than PCs. Accordingly, 60 percent of US adults now typically choose smartphones or tablets over PCs to find information before buying products and services offline. Google and Microsoft previously reported that half or nearly half of mobile search query volume carries a “local intent.”

The implications of these findings for retailers, QSR, local services (really anyone that sells products or services offline) are immediate and fairly obvious. If you’re not making a full mobile push you’re potentially losing sales to competitors.

Yesterday I wrote about comScore data showing that major retailers are now seeing “mobile-only shoppers” representing nearly 50 percent or in some cases more than 50 percent of their traffic.

Main reason for buying after mobile ad exposure 

mobile ad response

The Thrive-LSA report indicates “mobile fanatics” are generally younger and more affluent than typical mobile users. They also tend to be more engaged with and more influenced by mobile advertising as well. According to the data, 70 percent of these highly engaged mobile fanatics who view mobile ads make a purchase; and 80 percent of them buy within 72 hours of ad exposure.

These users also search heavily in retail stores. Of the various apps utilized search is the most common.

Mobile apps used in stores to find information (multiple responses permitted)

retail apps used in stores

The study was conducted for the LSA by Thrive Analytics. The survey was fielded earlier this year with a sample size of of 2,147 US adults. Additional findings are discussed here.

Disclosure: I’m the VP of Strategy & Insights for the LSA.

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