Mobile plays perfectly into the hands of women who are looking for simpler, more convenient ways to buy online, says Simon Stebbing.
- More women than men own a smartphone,
with BlackBerry the most popular choice.
Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Technology and gadgets are often seen as a male-dominated preserve. But when it comes to mobile, it’s clear that in many respects women are actually taking the lead and brands need to design and develop their apps and m-commerce services with this in mind.
Recent research that we conducted at OgilvyAction into the mobile behaviour of 1,000 UK consumers backs this up. We found that 56% of women own a smartphone, as opposed to 51% of men, and BlackBerry is clearly their preferred platform (21% of women against 15% of men). There is an argument that the more functional approach of BlackBerry and often cheaper devices appeal to younger and especially female audiences.
But even more importantly, women are more likely to use their phones for more than just calls: one in six had bought something on their mobile, opposed to one in nine men. They are also far more likely to purchase groceries, clothing or toys via m-commerce.
So why does mobile appeal to women? Our research found that one third (35%) thought it was easier to buy on a mobile than on a desktop or laptop (against only a quarter of men). Similarly, 42% of women think mobile commerce is faster (vs one third of men) and 55% think it’s more convenient, as opposed to 40% of men.
What becomes swiftly apparent is that mobile plays perfectly into women who are looking for a simpler, more convenient way to buy online – particularly those who may be already out and about on the high street than sitting at home in front of the computer.
Our research also found that women are more likely than men to go in-store and take a photo for future reference, or to use a price comparison app or an online voucher or another sales promotion (although, interestingly, men are actually far more likely to scan QR codes).
The research also found that women are more likely to use their mobiles to shop around rather than sticking with the services of the store they’re standing in. Also, 46% of men will visit the store’s own website (against 42% of women), but just under a half of women will visit a competitor’s website on their mobile.
All these statistics show that brands need to understand this female audience when it comes to m-commerce. First, it’s about research: nearly half of women will buy something via the mobile if they’ve used the device to research the best price first (as opposed to only a third of men). Second, they’re more likely than men to prefer using a mobile-dedicated site rather than an app for that purchase.
But although many women may prefer a mobile site to an app, it doesn’t mean they shy away from the app market. Quite the contrary; in fact, our research found that women are significantly more likely than men to regularly use mobile apps in sectors such as health, entertainment, lifestyle, social networking and, perhaps contrary to another stereotype, games.
• Health – 9% of women use health apps a lot vs 4% of men.
• Entertainment – 28% of women use entertainment mobile apps a lot vs 15% of men.
• Lifestyle – 17% of women use lifestyle apps frequently vs 8% of men.
• Social networking – 48% of women use social apps a lot vs 26% of men.
• Games – 37% of women use gaming apps regularly vs 26% of men.
Whereas men might choose a console or laptop for their gaming fix, women are both increasingly likely to play games online and to do so on their mobiles. The biggest difference, however, lies in social networking, where our research reinforces the now commonly-held view that women are leading the charge online.
In the US, Google Ad Planner has calculated that 82% of active Pinterest users are female, while Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has said that female Facebookers have 8% more friends and are responsible for 62% of sharing on the network.
Meanwhile, recent Porter Novelli research found that almost two-thirds (65%) of UK females access social media at least once a week, compared with around half (51%) of men. It also revealed that a similar percentage (64%) of social-media active women, as opposed to 56% of men, follow brands in order to find better discounts.
Brands are already taking this behaviour into account in their social media marketing, but it’s clear that the same shifts of tone of voice and approach (ie towards messaging that will appeal more to women) that we’ve seen in their presence on social networks should equally be applied in the mobile environment.
In an increasingly feminised digital media environment, mobile sites and apps designed more with female customers in mind may well be the best way for businesses to attract a higher proportion of mobile business.
Simon Stebbing is managing director of digital at OgilvyAction – follow them on Twitter @ogilvyaction
Originally posted by The Guardian: