August 18, 2010, 6:25 PM

Demographics can dictate whether it’s time to go mobile

A new study offers a profile of regular mobile web users that can help retailers.

Use of the mobile web has been growing at a rapid clip over the past few years, and with adoption of smartphones soaring, its use will continue to grow fast. Smartphone owners will overtake conventional mobile phone owners by the end of 2011, The Nielsen Co. reports.

As a result, it’s important for retailers to understand who mobile web users are as more and more of them access merchants’ e-commerce and m-commerce sites from smartphones. This is especially important for retailers that do not have an m-commerce site, as understanding who mobile web users are can be a contributing factor in the decision whether to go mobile.

Mobile phone penetration today surpasses that of computers: By the end of 2010, more than 240 million U.S. consumers, almost 78% of the population, will have a mobile phone subscription, according to a new study from Forrester Research Inc. entitled “Profiling U.S. Online Mobile Consumers.” And while smartphones were once only the playground of businesspeople on the go, 22% of online mobile phone owners now have a smartphone, which opens the door to a host of new mobile activities, the study says.

Mobile phone owners with web access who use the mobile web at least monthly tend to be younger, smartphone-owning, wealthy males who are driven by entertainment, the study says. 69% of these consumers own a smartphone; 26% a BlackBerry and 20% an iPhone. 13% own a Samsung, 11% a Motorola and 11% an LG; some of these phones use the Android operating system.

58% of mobile phone owners with web access who use the mobile web at least monthly are men, and the average age for these consumers is 36.4, the study shows. 69% attended at least two years of college, and the average household income for these consumers is $100,296.

“If your target market does fall into the group of regular mobile web users,” the study concludes, “you should ensure that your mobile Internet experience is consistent with your regular Internet presence, ensuring a seamless experience for your consumers.”

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