Mobile Purchasing: Urgent Need vs. Irrational Passion

by Net Future Institute on February 21, 2013

In yet another view of what causes people to buy something via mobile device comes a piece of research out of theUK showing that smartphone owners are confident enough to spend more than $10 from their phone.

Somewhat more interesting inside the study is a comment from the head of mobile for Intela, the company that commissioned the survey by UK research firm OnePoll, which boasts a large, global panel from which to draw responses.

“Generally, people decide to make purchases for two reasons, the first being urgent need and the second irrational passion,” said Guenole Le Gall of Intela.

We all know urgent need when we see it. A search for the lowest priced gas while driving, an on-the-spot coupon while shopping or finding the location of the closest, open restaurant at lunch time all come to mind.

But the idea of mobile purchases due to irrational passion is a bit more intriguing.

I have to wonder if the willingness to spend more than $10, hardly a seller’s dream price range, pertains more to the urgent need category. The top mobile purchase category in the survey was retail goods with the lowest categories being lifestyle and entertainment products and services and travel.

But those latter categories may fall more into the category of irrational passion and even impulse spending.

Come across a dream trip while smartphone browsing? A few clicks later, booked. The latest flash deal from Rue LaLa this morning? On impulse, one click executes the buy.

While the issue of mobile payments is yet to fully play out, the actual buying on a mobile phone keeps getting easier.

One key reason people ultimately will buy things via mobile is simply because they can.

What do you think causes people to make a purchase via mobile? Is it urgent need, irrational passion or something else?

Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.


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