Consumers use various digital devices—smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers—at many points along the purchase path, from researching product information and pricing to finding retail outlets or completing transactions electronically, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Google, which explores consumers' shopping behaviors during the 2011 holiday season.

Overall, digital content was a huge influencer in 2011: 76% of surveyed online adult shoppers said they conducted research online prior to making holiday purchases, whereas 36% read store circulars or flyers, 34% saw in-store displays, 34% received recommendations from friends, and 29% watched TV ads.

Below, additional findings from Google's 2011 Post-Holiday Recap, based on two surveys of US adults conducted by Ipsos.

Influence of Smartphones

Among consumers who used a smartphone to help with shopping during the 2011 holiday season:

  • 46% said they researched an item via smartphone and then went to a store to make their purchase. 
  • 41% said they made a purchase using their smartphone.  
  • 37% said they researched an item via smartphone and then made their purchase online.

Roughly one in five smartphone owners researched holiday purchases via smartphone, then visited stores, but still completed their transactions online (19%) or via smartphone (18%). 

Checking for Deals (via PC) Before Heading Out

Though consumers used all three devices—mobile phone, tablet, and personal computer—to research purchases during the 2011 holiday season, some activities were more popular on specific devices.

For example, tablet owners were more likely to read product reviews via tablet (77%) than via PC (67%) or smartphone (70%).

However, when comparing prices or checking for deals, people preferred personal computers over mobile devices by a wide margin:


  • 79% of consumers used a PC to check out prices, compared with 63% who used a tablet and 61% who used a smartphone.
  • 73% of consumers used a PC to find coupons, compared with 49% who used a tablet and 46% who used a smartphone.


Consumers favored smartphones for contacting retailers, likely an outgrowth of the ability to make calls directly, as well as the click-to-call buttons featured on many websites, according to the study.

Overall, consumers are relying on mobile devices more for shopping: Among those who used their devices to shop during the 2010 holiday season, 80% of smartphone shoppers and 70% of tablet users* said they used their device more frequently in 2011.

* Directional data only due to small base size.

About the data: Findings are based on two online surveys; one comprising 615 US adult holiday season shoppers who made a purchase in at least one of 13 retail categories; and another titled "Digital Connections Study: Life of the Mobile-PC User" of the same base size comprising mobile and desktop consumers who made retail purchases across the same range of categories. The data were weighted to reflect US Smartphone and PC user populations. Both surveys were conducted in January 2012.

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Mobile, Digital Media Influence Online and In-Store Buying

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