smartphone researchThe results of a new consumer survey turn conventional wisdom about age and smartphone use on its head. Older generations – Baby Boomers and Seniors – are in fact embracing smartphones and online mobile Web services when they go shopping, according to market research produced by Thrive Analytics and released today by the Local Search Association.

It’s still true that a higher percentage of younger shoppers sometimes rely on their mobile devices while out shopping: 97% of Gen Y respondents (18-29) and 91% of Gen X (30-43) as compared to 81% of Young Boomers (44-53), and 69% pf Older Boomers & Seniors (54+). Stats on the size of these age groups and their disposable incomes would add yet clearer perspective on these percentages.

The consumer survey also reveals that comparing prices is the number 1 reason mobile users across all age groups use their devices in stores: 60% of Gen Y and the same percentage of Gen X respondents; 52% and 51% of Young Boomers, and Older Boomers & Seniors, respectively. Coupons and promotional offers ranked as the second most popular reason for smartphone use in aid of shopping while in-store.

Where mobile use was high and most evenly distributed was in helping shoppers younger and older make better, more informed purchase decisions. Eighty-eight percent of Gen Y, 89% of Gen X, 87% of Younger Boomers, and 85% of Older Boomers & Seniors said they search via mobile devices “because it helps them decide whether to buy something or because it makes them a much smarter shopper,” according to a Local Search Association news release.

Almost as equally distributed across age groups, 8% of Gen Y, 10% of Gen X, 8% of Younger Boomers and 6% of Older Boomers & Seniors said that using their smartphones made them feel guilty or that they tried to hide them from store employees while using them in-store.

The survey results suggest that local merchants should invest in developing mobile marketing and maintaining a mobile presence so that they’re able to attract customers of all ages, Local Search Association points out.

The differences among age groups was marked when it came to their willingness to change their minds and not make a purchase while in-store based on information gained via their smartphones. Sixty-five percent of Gen Y respondents and 62% of Gen X said they were willing as compared to 45% of Young Boomers and 37% of Older Boomers & Seniors.

Another area of broad equivalence among age groups was respondents’ willingness to share their location in order to receive loyalty offers or other promotional deals. Both older and younger mobile users who share location with a brand, retail or local business said obtaining special offers and deals was their number 1 reason for doing so. Number 2 was qualifying for loyalty points.

Seventy-one percent of Gen Y and 68% of Gen X respondents said they were willing to “check-in” at a local business or share their location with others as compared to 64% of Younger Boomers and 62% of Older Boomers & Seniors.

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