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October 30, 2012

Study: Smartphone Buyers Get Indecisive Walking into Stores

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

A recent survey, staged by BDS Marketing, Inc., of 900 consumers who have bought a television, tablet PC, or smartphone in the last 60 days, showed something rather unexpected happening at electronics stores: many consumers who go in planning to buy one thing often change their minds when they actually get in the store itself.

The BDS Marketing survey revealed that smartphone buyers are most susceptible to this effect, with 26 percent of respondents going into a store intending to purchase one brand, yet leaving the store with a completely different brand in hand. Television buyers were almost identically impacted, with 25 percent changing their minds on brands at the last minute. Tablet PC buyers, meanwhile, only saw 11 percent of their number change their minds at the last minute.


These may not sound like big numbers, but considering that an even half -- 50 percent -- of smartphone buyers went in with a specific brand in mind, while another 44 percent had a rough idea of what they were looking for, it's a pretty fair shift. As for what drove the changes in perspective, when it came to smartphone buyers, price was important, but it was far from the only measure. Actually seeing the items in the store affected the decision on a regular basis -- on a one-to-five scale, in fact, it measure highest on average -- and 13 percent of cases changed their mind thanks to a recommendation from a sales associate on the floor.

This last point is especially interesting as, while it changed a surprisingly large number of minds, it was only occasionally given. 76 percent of smartphone buyers did speak to a sales rep, but only 53 percent actually got a recommendation. Since recommendations change minds so often, it's worth the time to have sales reps make personal recommendations for phones.

As a whole, these results fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which says that customers do their research online at home and then go to the store to make the final pickup. The decision is clearly not a foregone conclusion; with so many different points of influence--in-store promotions, in-store displays and similar marketing efforts, and the surprisingly powerful impact of sales rep recommendations--involved, it's clear that customers are still receptive to other brands right up to the point they actually pay the bill.

This provides a lot more opportunity for stores to make their influence known up to the very last minute, and potentially adjust customer decisions to an outcome more favorable for the store itself. The influence that sales reps have over the process is especially noteworthy, and especially useful--ignoring that influence is done at the store's own peril. Brick and mortar may be seeing a lot of losses to the online sector, but it's clear that brick and mortar won't lose its impact any time soon.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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