Parents Outpace all other U.S. Adults When it Comes to Embracing Mobile Shopping, Marketing and Couponing, According to New Placecast Study

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Today Placecast announces the results of a poll conducted by Harris Interactive that shows interesting trends around how people with children use their mobile phones to shop and save money, which is important for marketers to understand as back-to-school season is in full swing.

The survey reveals that U.S. adults with children under 18 years old living in their household (parents) are more likely to use their mobile phones for shopping-related activities compared to those without children under 18 years old in their household (non-parents). In fact, parents showed more activity than non-parents across all aspects of digital commerce (mobile and online) - from making purchases via mobile phones to receiving text and email alerts, and taking action on them.

The data comes from the third wave of a poll commissioned by Placecast and conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,262 U.S. adults ages 18 and older earlier this year. A primary goal of the poll, titled The Alert Shopper III, was to uncover how Americans use their mobile devices related to shopping – from coupons and offers, to finding a store, to purchases.

Twenty-seven percent of parents made an online purchase via their smartphone in the past year as compared to 17% of non-parents. The survey also found that parents are three times more likely than non-parents to make a purchase due to a text message from a retailer (9 percent of parents, versus 3 percent of non-parents). Parents are twice as likely to check-in to a location-based social network using their phones, when compared to non-parents. (11 percent versus 5 percent).

The survey revealed that over half of the parents surveyed own smartphones, compared to just over a third of non-parents (52 percent versus 35 percent). Parents have come to rely on their mobile phones to make their lives easier – whether that means using the GPS on their phones to find a retailer, receiving text alerts from merchants, making an online purchase using their phones, or redeeming an offer from a daily deals company like Groupon. In all of these areas, parents reported a greater rate of use on their phones within the past year, when compared to non-parents. The data also shows that parents are twice as likely to use their phone’s GPS to find a store as non-parents are, and also twice as likely to download an app from their favorite merchants (40 percent versus 22 percent). (chart 1)

Armed with smartphones, parents have discovered ways to save money, save time, and get the best offers. The Placecast survey showed that parents of young children (under 6 years of age) are more interested in text marketing for certain products and services - like home furnishings, sporting goods, travel services, convenience store items and particularly coffee and beverage promotions - half of all parents with kids under six reported that they would be interested in text alerts for coffee and beverages. (chart 2)

It was also found that people with children under 18 in the household also actively sought out promotions and discounts more this year than in the past year compared to non-parents; 7 percent of the non-parents signed up to receive text alerts from retailers, compared to double that number (14 percent) of parents who said they signed up for text alerts. (chart 3)

“As brand marketers grow more aware of ‘Parent Power’ on mobile, they can tailor programs to meet their interests and needs,” says Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman. “In terms of m-commerce, parents are showing that they are early adopters. Brands that know how to connect with tech-savvy parents are going to see greater ROI in this back-to-school season.”

”Any parent can confirm how having a child changes your behavior with technology and shopping,” says Kathryn Koegel, Chief of Insights for Primary Impact consulting, which worked with Placecast and Harris Interactive to develop the poll. “You go from being able to check your computer as often as necessary to a constantly on-the-go lifestyle where mobile computing becomes essential and a critical timesaver. Parents in playgrounds are shopping for a variety of goods – and most significant for retailers, they are using their phones for retail activities in stores. They are the most likely demographic sector to have purchased an item on their phone in a store. This is an amazing opportunity and challenge for retailers to drive loyalty rather than send people to a competitor.”

This research marks the third survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Placecast – similar studies were conducted in summer of 2009 and winter of 2010. The results collectively make up a series called ‘The Alert Shopper’, a tracking study conducted to understand shifting consumer usage and attitudes about marketing on mobile phones. 2262 adults, from a nationally representative sample, were surveyed in February 2012.

To learn more about Placecast research, visit

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Rachael Himsel
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