by Nissa Hanna
Uh-oh. I was running late for dinner with a friend. When I arrived at the restaurant with apologies, she looked up from her phone, smiled and said, “That’s OK; I was just shopping.”
She’s not the only one turning delays into shopping head starts. Her savvy use of that downtime is reflective of a larger consumer shift from condition-primed to access-enabled shopping. Conscious of the potential locked in each minute, practical consumers are “turning dead time into shopping time,” as Iconoculture consumer strategist Greg Hodge articulated in his micro-moment retailing POV.
Aided by agile smartphones and tablets, people are creating shopping opportunities in situations that were recently favorable only to staring into space. They’re making retail happen in their mobile moments instead of waiting for a window of opportunity that’s wide enough to accommodate driving, parking and aisle browsing.
The number of smartphone owners who use their devices to shop has quadrupled since June 2010 (MobileRetailMagazine.com, May 2012). But strong evidence for shopping in the moment also comes from the 2011 holiday season — when time is short and shopping lists are long. A study by Google and Ipsos OTX found that 41% of respondents researched and purchased via their smarphones during that time (eMarketer.com, 29 February 2012).
What this means to marketers
The thing about shopping in the micro-moment is that consumers are doing it to maximize — not kill — time. And marketers must meet that mindset with sites or apps that respect the need for intuitive interactions and efficient features. Will it be easy or frustrating? Fun or uninspiring? Time constraints and device comfort have consumers opening up to these opportunities, but they still need marketers’ help to turn their unused minutes into accomplishments.