How Do Different Demographics Use Mobile Shopping?

December 23, 2014 Rieva Lesonsky

mobile shopping

How do different demographic groups use mobile devices to shop—and what does it mean for your business? A new study, The Mobile Path to Purchase Study 2014, has some answers. The study examined mobile use across gender and generations when shopping.

While men account for a bigger percentage of total time spent researching on mobile devices, women spend more time per research session. Perhaps this is because women tend to use their mobile devices at home, while men mostly use them on the go. (I know personally, I spend lots of time browsing shopping sites on my iPad at home, while my significant other is more likely to grab his phone to find a nearby store when we’re on the road.)

Women are the most active mobile users when it comes to researching frequent purchases, such as restaurants and entertainment. However, men are more active in bigger purchases, such as telecommunications and automobiles.

Both men and women are equally likely to buy something after using a mobile device to shop and research—nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say they regularly complete purchases related to their mobile research. However, their reasons for purchasing differ. Women are more motivated by price, while men are more motivated by brands. In addition, women are more likely to buy the items online on their mobile devices, while men are more likely to buy the items offline in a physical store.

Generational differences come into play as well. Millennials’ purchasing habits are primarily driven by price, while Gen X and Baby Boomers are motivated by brands. And while Millennials and Gen X are more likely to buy on a mobile device, Baby Boomers are more likely to buy in a brick-and-mortar store.

No matter who’s using mobile, there’s a lot of indecision going on—and a lot of room to influence purchases. Fewer than 20 percent of Gen X or Millennial shoppers say they have a specific need in mind when they start using a mobile device to research products. In other words, they’re doing the equivalent of browsing in a store. This means mobile marketing methods, such as SMS messaging, mobile social media posts, location-specific push notifications and ads in mobile shopping apps, can all be valuable in persuading them to shop with you, either online or off.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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