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Smartphone owners more likely to actively seek new products: Forrester

Discovering new products and services is a crucial part of the customer lifecycle, with mobile playing an increasingly important role in the process, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

In the report, "How Consumers Discover New Brands, Products, And Services," Forrester found that U.S. online adults who own a smartphone are significantly more likely to actively seek information about brands, products and services than those who do not own a smartphone. The results show that 57 percent of smartphone owners actively seek out new product information compared to 41 percent of non-smartphone owners.

?From the mobile and from a holistic perspective, the big news is that consumers are continuing to be connected all the time,? said Gina Sverdlov, an analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. ?It is no longer the few select early adopters ? the need for constant connection is trickling out to everyday consumers and smartphones and tablets are fueling that trend.

?One of the most interesting findings is that consumers are really connected wherever they are ? it is not just at home or at work but in a car, while traveling, during their daily commute, in the kitchen or at a friend?s house ? the list doesn?t stop,? she said.

?Smartphones are a part of consumers? everyday lives now.?

Customer lifecycle
The report finds that there is a clear opportunity for companies to use mobile marketing to bring relevant new brands, products and services to consumers' attention.

The key is being in the right place and time by leveraging the fact that approximately two-thirds of U.S. online adults with a smartphone have a location-based application on their mobile phone, with the majority using them to discover new stores, products and services.

The report also found that there is significant opportunity for marketers to use mobile to push consumers toward the next stages in the customer lifecycle following discovery, which are explore and buy. The results show that 56 percent of U.S. online adults with smartphones research products and 31 percent purchase products on their smartphones at least monthly.

By using relevant mobile marketing in an appropriate context, marketers can drive both engagement and sales.

The importance of relevancy
However, not all mobile efforts are successful in driving consumers to move onto the next phases in the customer lifecycle.

The findings reveal that only about one-fifth of U.S. online adults who have seen ads for a new brand, product or service on apps they use on their mobile phones have done further research on what they saw. A perceived lack of value and relevancy are named by the majority of consumers for why they have not taken further action, with only 28 percent of users who have seen mobile ads finding them to be relevant and 42 percent saying the ads disrupted their user experience.

Other key findings include that traditional methods of product discovery still dominate, such as personal conversations. However, consumers are engaging with online discovery methods, too.

Forrester found that 79 percent of consumers conduct Internet searches via search engines to find new products, 32 percent view general online ads, 30 percent look at online consumer review sites, 23 percent read and post messages on Facebook, 23 percent see ads on Facebook, 17 percent use coupon apps and services, 7 percent read and post on Twitter, 7 percent see ads on Twitter, 6 percent read and post messages on Pinterest and 4 percent see ads on Pinterest.

The most popular discovery methods for word-of-mouth channels are online review sites, with 81 percent actively seeking this information doing so in this way while 72 percent speak with people and 69 percent seek out online customer communities.

For marketers, the results point to the need to be relevant and to be in the right place at the right time with the right message with their mobile efforts.

?You see a lot of marketers that try to be everywhere but who are not really having the right message,? Ms. Sverdlov said. ?What marketers have to do is use technology in a smart way to make sure the message is relevant.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York