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Report: TNS’s Study on the role of mobiles in shopping
Posted On: 24-04-2013 03:06:09 AM

Latest research findings released by TNS reveal that the mobile can play a valuable role in reducing the risk that ‘showrooming’ poses to retailers. ‘Showrooming’ refers to the phenomenon where people visit stores only to identify products but buy them later elsewhere. With one third of mobile users globally admitting to ‘showrooming’ behaviour,

TNS’s annual Mobile Life study shows that whilst showrooming is a very real threat, the mobile can equally offer a solution to brands in minimising this risk. Among those who showroom, two thirds use their phone whilst doing so, providing a major opportunity for brands to interact with consumers via mobile and turn browsers into buyers. Some behaviours - such as using a mobile to conduct independent research in-store - do present risks to retailers, as external influences may increase a shopper’s likelihood of leaving without making a purchase. However, the study shows that people are open to engaging with brands whilst in-store, with more than one tenth (11 %) of smartphone owners in India keen to receive mobile coupons whilst shopping and 14 % interested in apps that help them navigate the store they are in. As per Parijat Chakraborty, Executive Director, at TNS India “People in India still want the reassurance of seeing a product before they buy it. Rather than seeing mobile as a threat to in-store sales, brands and retailers must embrace it as the most immediate and personalised way to engage with shoppers while they are in-store to ensure they don’t leave empty-handed.”

Showrooming is a global phenomenon, but the role played by mobile varies significantly across the world. In markets where people’s first introduction to the Internet has been via a handset, shoppers are highly likely to use their mobile when showrooming – 75 % in emerging Asia, 87 % in the Middle East and North Africa and 67 % in Sub-Saharan Africa. People in developed markets, where online shopping is well established, are less likely to do so, with 55 % of showroomers in North America and 56 % in Europe using their phones in this way. The biggest drivers for showrooming consumers are twofold: reassurance on price and reassurance on suitability. Reading reviews or checking social media whilst in-store to inform their decision-making stands at 2.4 % in India compared to 16 % globally. 42 % Indian consumes prefer asking friends and family what they would recommend buying. This is in line with 49 % in emerging Asian markets and much higher when compared to such consumers globally (25 %).

Having knowledgeable sales staff on hand is no guarantee of success, with two-fifth (39.7 %) consumers in India preferring to access information on their phone than speak to a sales assistant in store, compared to almost a third of people globally and two-fifths of 16-30 year olds. While people continue to choose diverse ways of seeking the reassurance they require, an integrated approach meeting customer needs at all touchpoints is essential. As per Parijat Chakraborty “The increased popularity of m-commerce is not the death-knell for conventional retailers. Both online and offline retailers need to understand the complex mix of decision making elements in-store and online, and sharpen their strategies accordingly. Consumers want both the formats to exist; however, they wish to see the benefit of both in each. The success for marketers will depend on how the best of both the worlds can be offered by bringing in synergies across online and offline”.

Note: An infographic exploring the findings from the study in more detail is available at

About Mobile Life

Mobile Life is a global study that draws on the behaviours, motivations and priorities of 38,000 mobile users in 43 countries. With global mobile penetration at 92% across the markets studied, and consumers engaging with an ever-increasing range of services on their phone, the survey looks at how people are interacting with mobile and the opportunities this presents for brands.

TNS has conducted this study for eight years to provide an accurate picture of changing mobile trends and brand opportunities over time, helping companies to develop their business and marketing strategies via mobile.

The study was conducted across 43 different markets between 20 November 2012 and 4 February 2013.


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