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Tablet Vs. Smartphone? How Generations Shop Digitally

With online holiday spend projected to reach $70 billion in the U.S. this year and even more shoppers reaching for their mobile devices to pay at brick-and-mortar retail locations, it is safe to venture a guess that the 2015 holiday shopping season may be looked back on as something of a crossroads for retailers.

As such, the retail industry is eagerly awaiting information on how consumers behave in this new shopping reality. With the industry hungry for information on the changing attitudes of shoppers, IAB’s latest Digital Shopping Report couldn’t have come at a better time.

The report — derived from the Oct. 2015 Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Study, which surveyed 7,276 respondents online, and the annual 2015 Media Behaviors & Influence Study, which surveyed an additional 16,228 respondents online — shows the different generations’ slight, yet distinct preferences in what devices they use to research and complete their online and in-store purchases.

This is vital information for retail marketers looking to create seamless digital buying experiences that appeal to as many consumers, across as many generations, as possible.

As Anna Bager, senior vice president and general manager of mobile and video at IAB, notes in a press release: “With the holiday shopping season in full swing, consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets throughout the gift-buying process. This report spotlights contrasts in how different generations shop on digital — significant differences that need to be considered in brand marketers’ strategies.”

The report offers a wealth of useful insights into the research and buying process. However, some of the study’s most interesting findings are around what it calls “showrooming,” defined in the study as the practice of comparing prices on a mobile device while in a retail store before purchasing. The most likely outcome of the typical showroomer is to buy in a physical store (57 percent), whether at the store where the price comparison was initiated or at a competing retailer’s location. Consumers ages 18 to 34 are the likeliest group to showroom (67 percent) and are also the most prone to making purchases from a competing retailer, whether brick-and-mortar or online via mobile or desktop.

Sherrill Mane, senior vice president of research, analytics and measurement at IAB, summed up the implications of the report: “If marketers and retailers want to reach the right audiences at the right time in the purchase cycle, they are going to need to understand these distinctions.”

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