The role in which mobile phones and social media are playing in influencing the way younger consumers shop and select retail brands is growing, according to new research from MasterCard.

The study, carried out by InSites Consulting for MasterCard, looked at the shopping habits of young people aged 18-30 in the UK and Germany. It examined their use of technology and social media when shopping in two categories: grocery and fashion.
Young people in the UK are very active in using their mobile phones to access the internet, with 62 per cent regularly doing so.  Figures are lower in Germany with just 34 per cent regularly using mobile to go online.  Similarly, purchasing items over the internet is far more common in the UK: for grocery retailers, 30 per cent regularly shop online in this sector versus just 15 per cent in Germany.  However online purchases in fashion are similar for both countries, with 20 per cent in Germany and 28 per cent in the UK saying that they regularly buy from fashion retailers online.
During the grocery shopping experience in Germany, the most common reasons for using a mobile phone is to compare prices, make a shopping list and look for discounts and deals.  While in the UK the most common reasons for using a mobile while shopping for groceries is to compare prices, search for product information and to check in via social media such as Facebook or Foursquare.
For fashion shopping, the three most common reasons in Germany to use a mobile were making a shopping list, finding a store location and comparing prices.  While in the UK it was to find a store, compare prices and make a shopping list, in order of preference.

Elizabeth Wolgemuth, group head, global merchant marketing at MasterCard Worldwide said this demographic group has grown up with mobile phones and is now inseparable from the devices.

“The mobile phone is their key tool to interact with the world, whether that is keeping in touch with friends, organising their lives or shopping and finding out information,” she said.
“This research will help retailers understand how this group uses mobile phones – not only to shop, but to build a relationship with a brand, build loyalty and source information from retailers, as well as from their wider online social network and independent influencers.”
The research also asked what information they would like to receive on their mobile when shopping.  German grocery consumers cited the ability to get product information by scanning barcodes in store, discounts via location based social media such as Facebook and Foursquare and special deals for smart phone users.  UK grocery shoppers would most like to see more discounts via location based social media, special deals for smart phone users and in store information via barcodes.
Confidence levels in buying online are higher in the UK with 38 per cent feeling it was safe to make purchases with a smart phone, versus 17 per cent feeling comfortable with this method of purchase in Germany.
Joeri Van den Bergh, managing partner of InSites Consulting and the research report’s author, said retailers need to understand technology in order to develop and be in touch with the mobile phone centric world.

“By understanding the preferences for interaction and the mobile usage habits of this group, retailers can engage more fully.  They can build sales, loyalty and most importantly, a strong affection for their brands through this channel, if used properly,” he said.