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93% of US women actively looking for promo offers sent to their mobiles as m-web gains traction with the ladies

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A staggering 53% of women in the US actively engage in mobile interaction with retail-driven mobile promotions, with 93% actively looking out for promotional offers sent to their mobiles or on the mobile web. Of these, gentleman readers will be surprised to note, 70% admit to acting on impulse and treating themselves to things they don’t need.

So finds a remarkably in depth – and enlightening – study by miBuys, a provider of white-label services that let consumers discover, share and redeem product offers, advertiser promotions and vouchers on their mobile phone.

Talking to 1600 women in the US aged between 16 and 45 to uncover their usage and attitudes towards the mobile web – and m-commerce on the mobile web in particular – the study reveals that the ladies do like to spend on fashion, clothing and accessories. Surprisingly, meals – vouchers for which account for by far the lion’s share of mobile coupons currently distributed – come in at third place among what women want to spend on.

In fact, the survey sought to assess attitudes towards discount offers amongst mobile phone users and found that, although the vast majority of those surveyed have used discount coupons in the past, less than a third currently consider themselves to be regular coupon users. That said, more than two thirds of users expressed an interest in receiving discount coupons via their mobile phone.

While today’s mobile coupon offers are dominated by location-based dining offers, our respondents indicated a clear preference for mobile coupons relating to retail goods and services (53%) where interest was more than three times higher than for dining-related offers (16%).

Concerts ranked poorly on the priority list for how the audience spend their disposable income (being a priority for only 2% of those surveyed), but mobile coupons relating to concerts & events proved to be the second most popular option with 21% of respondents pronouncing this to be the most interesting area.

When asked whether they wished to opt-in to receive future marketing promotions relevant to the channel the majority of respondents (58%) agreed and provided appropriate contact information (mobile number, email address).

The women’s attitude to mobile advertising also yields some surprising results. With many tens of millions of text and banner advertisements served to mobile users every month the survey asked respondents whether they were aware of mobile advertising as a result of browsing the web on their mobile phone. Although 84% of users claimed to have noticed mobile advertising, it is surprising to note that almost 16% of users were either unsure or claimed not to have seen advertising.

When considering awareness levels over the duration of the survey period it would be reasonable to expect this to improve as mobile web usage increases, as more sites feature mobile advertising and as users become more familiar with content but this does not appear to be the case.

To further test awareness, third party advertising sourced through an industry-leading mobile ad network was placed at the top (graphical banner ad) and bottom (text ad) of each mini-survey page. Despite framing the survey pages with typical mobile advertising the number of users claiming they had not noticed, or were unsure whether they had noticed mobile advertising actually increased slightly.

The same respondents were asked whether they had ever clicked on an advertisement whilst browsing on their mobile phone. Despite the extensive reach of mobile advertising the results show that it is failing to elicit a reaction from almost 28% of this predominantly female audience, and a further 15% are unable to reliably recall whether they have ever clicked on advertising.

The study reveals that, as with most mobile web activity among men, women are surfing the mobile web – and spontaneously buying things – from the comfort of their own homes. Almost 94% of users access the mobile internet at home. This is initially surprising considering the expectation that most households already have PC’s capable of providing a richer browsing experience and that mobile internet is typically thought of as being for use “on-the-go”.

This seems to support the proposition that mobile browsing sessions are often used to fill the brief “boredom breaks” (e.g. the downtime between TV programs) and that our attention is becoming increasingly divided.

Some two thirds (483) of respondents reported using their mobile to browse the web whilst in transit (cars, trains & buses) with the second most popular browsing location being the car (54%). There is further anecdotal evidence from users of the services to suggest that for many, their mobile phone is also the first-choice (or only) device for checking email.

The most popular time of day for mobile surfing (based on site analytics rather than survey data) is from 7pm to 9pm in the evening; other key times are in the early morning (around 7am) and midday.

When asked how frequently they use their mobile to access the web these same users give a clear indication that mobile browsing has already become a part of their daily routine with 85% going online almost every day.

When asked how they saw their use of the mobile internet in the future the majority (almost 70%) had a clear expectation that usage would increase whilst only 1.6% believed that they would use mobile internet less often in the future.

The most popular online communities with female mobile surfers are Facebook and Yahoo Groups (both being used by approx. 52% of all respondents). MySpace also proves popular (41%) and the most recently gathered responses show Twitter gathering momentum within the surveyed users (“Other” – 23%).

Some 11% of respondents were power networkers using at least four or more different online communities whilst 14% of respondents were yet to join in the social networking phenomenon or actively eschewed online communities.

Overall the survey feedback indicates that accessing the internet via their mobile phone has gone from occasional novelty to everyday behaviour for the majority of women, and the overwhelming popularity of mobile surfing in the home suggests that the value of the internet on a mobile phone is migrating from one of simple mobility to a more pervasive information device.

Furthermore these attitude checks demonstrate that mobile phones feature ever more strongly at the hub of women’s day-to-day lives. Their widespread use as a means to fill so-called boredom breaks positions them as an interesting alternative to traditional broadcast advertising, and their “always-there, always-on” nature provides a level of immediacy unavailable through any other channel.

The high levels of interest in using a mobile phone within the overall shopping experience suggest that savvy marketers who bring some joined-up thinking to the convergence of shopping and mobile could quickly gain traction. But be aware, simply delivering ringtones, mobile games or a discount off your next Starbucks is not sufficient; women want to get the entire high street on their mobile.
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