Mobile Marketing Crosses Senior Threshold: New Survey Shows Older Generations Embrace Mobile as Local Shopping Companion

Boomers and seniors are quickly following in the footsteps of their Gen Y and Gen X counterparts by actively using their mobile devices throughout the local purchasing process, according to the results of a new survey conducted by Thrive Analytics and released by the Local Search Association. The data demonstrate the growing importance for local businesses to invest in their mobile presence and marketing in order to attract and retain customers across all age groups.

"Mobile isn’t just for kids anymore," said Neg Norton, president of Local Search Association, in a news release. "Boomers and seniors are catching up in their use of mobile throughout the local shopping experience. Businesses that fail to recognize the strong and growing prevalence of mobile usage by older generations will miss out on an opportunity to reach this large demographic with huge purchasing power."

Guilt-Free About Searching for Deals, Prices and Reviews While Shopping In-Store

While more Gen Y respondents said they were likely to use their smartphones every time they shop in-store than older boomer and senior respondents (26 percent vs. 6 percent), the majority of both age groups said they use their smartphones at least sometimes when shopping in-store (97 percent vs. 69 percent).

Among those respondents who said they use their smartphones at least sometimes while shopping in-store, there was little variation by age group for why they used their mobile devices or their attitudes about doing so:

  • Desire for Better Prices and Discounts: Smartphone users of all age groups said that comparing prices and looking up discounts were their top reasons for searching via their mobile devices while shopping in-store. The majority of respondents across age groups said they did so to compare prices (60 percent of Gen Y; 60 percent of Gen X; 52 percent of Young Boomers; 51 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors) and look for coupons or offers (56 percent of Gen Y; 59 percent of Gen X; 52 percent of Young Boomers; 50 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors).
  • Lack of Guilt for Wanting to Be Better Informed: Only a small minority of respondents across all age groups said they feel guilty or try to hide using their smartphones while shopping in-store (8 percent of Gen Y; 10 percent of Gen X; 8 percent of Young Boomers; 6 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors). On the contrary, the vast majority of respondents said they searched via mobile in-store because it helped them in trying to decide whether to buy something or because it made them a smarter shopper (88 percent of Gen Y; 89 percent of Gen X; 87 percent of Young Boomers; 85 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors). Additionally, respondents of all ages said that mobile search via a search browser was the most common way they looked up more information while shopping in-store.
  • Open to Going Elsewhere to Purchase Products Based on Discovered Information: Respondents across all age groups said they were willing to stop moving forward with a purchase based on new information they discovered via their smartphone while shopping in-store (65 percent of Gen Y; 62 percent of Gen X; 45 percent of Young Boomers; 37 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors). The higher response rate among Gen Y respondents versus respondents from older generations indicates the group’s stronger receptiveness to changing purchasing decisions based on online information. Of those who said they decided not to buy something based on new information discovered, the most common reason was because they found a better price online (47 percent of Gen Y; 46 percent of Gen X; 41 percent of Young Boomers; 41 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors), followed by product reviews and better prices at a nearby store.

"As smartphones become more integral in our daily lives, users of all ages are turning to their mobile devices throughout the local shopping experience to ensure they are finding the best deals and the highest-rated products and services available," said Norton. "In order to compete effectively, local businesses need to develop a strong understanding of the mobile landscape their customers will discover when searching for their products and services, and invest in their own mobile presence and marketing to have a voice in what they will find. While Gen Y consumers are the most likely to leverage online information in their decision-making, the trends among older generations indicate that they also value this information."

Willing to Share Location and Receive Text Messages In Exchange for Deals & Loyalty Points

Gen Y respondents said they were much more likely than Older Boomer & Senior respondents to have ever "checked-in" at a local business or shared their location with others via their smartphone (60 percent vs. 30 percent). However, of those who have done so, the frequency with which they continue to "check in" or make their location known is comparable across age groups.

Additionally, when asked under what circumstances they would be willing to share their location with a brand, retailer or local business, the majority of respondents across all ages who said they have shared their location agreed that that their top reasons would be to benefit from an offer or deal (71 percent of Gen Y; 68 percent of Gen X; 64 percent of Young Boomers; 62 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors) and the ability to gain loyalty points or rewards (67 percent of Gen Y; 64 percent of Gen X; 65 percent of Young Boomers; 62 percent of Older Boomers & Seniors).

The reasons for "checking in" vary by age. More than half of Gen Y respondents (53 percent) said they check in because they want to provide their location for a picture or social update or to let their friends know where they are, versus just 24 percent of Older Boomers & Senior respondents. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Older Boomer & Senior respondents said they would be willing to "check in" or share their location for an offer or reward, versus 25 percent of Gen Y respondents.

Nearly half (49 percent) of all respondents said they have agreed to receive offers, loyalty points, content or other rewards via text messages. While the majority of Gen Y and Gen X respondents said they had agreed to receive text messages in exchange for incentives (52 percent and 55 percent, respectively), a comparable share of Young Boomers (43 percent) and Older Boomers & Seniors (37 percent) have also agreed to the same.

"Local businesses have always wanted loyal customers and easy ways to stay in touch with them about their products," said Norton. "As smartphones continue to disrupt the local shopping experience, one thing is clear: local businesses have a strong opportunity to build ongoing relationships with those they most want to reach by incentivizing existing and potential customers through mobile offers and discounts. Additionally, local businesses have an opportunity with younger generations to leverage their interest in sharing location for social reasons to raise word-of-mouth visibility for their offerings."

The Local Mobile Trends Study, conducted by Thrive Analytics and released by the Local Search Association, surveyed 1,058 smartphone users via Thrive Analytics’ Connected Experience online panel in January 2014. The panel was representative of the U.S. smartphone population, with respondents divided into four groups: Gen Y (18-29-years-old), Gen X (30-43-years old), Young Boomers (44-53-years-old) and Older Boomers & Seniors (54-years-old and above). The survey asked smartphone users about how they used their mobile devices at various stages of the purchasing process.

Edited by Richard Carufel

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