Google Search: The Most Used Shopping Tool

Google Search: The Most Used Shopping Tool pixelwork

Google Search: The Most Used Shopping Tool

Surveys say that almost 90% of mobile consumers use Google search first.

Google has pivoted quite successfully towards mobile in recent years. And while more search happens on mobile devices today, there has been much debate about whether search plays as central a role for mobile consumers as it does for desktop users.

In early September, Google released survey data claiming that search has indeed become a primary resource for smartphone owners. Additionally, it is the most used business tool for mobile consumers, according to the findings.

At the beginning of this year, Google surveyed 1,000 users of smartphones “several times a day for a week” to understand their mobile activities and behaviors. The company says it collected more than 14,000 responses in the process.

Here's the main takeaway: “Not only is search the most used [mobile] resource, it's the resource that 87 percent of people use first.” The following graph reflects the hierarchy of mobile consumers' tools and resources used to fulfill their shopping needs.

Source: Google/Purchased Digital Diary, “How Consumers Solve Their Needs in the Moment,” n=1,000 smartphone users, May 2016.

According to the survey, the 70 percent of in-store shoppers use their mobile devices for pre-purchase research.

In particular, mobile search leads to sales: “92 percent of users who searched on their phone made a purchase related to the search. The actions that most preceded a purchase were “using a search engine” and “visiting a store” equally.

Google also emphasized that mobile devices are used throughout the purchase cycle – not just immediately before the purchase and often in what could be described as “top of the funnel”:

While search has long been useful to help with quick tasks like looking up a cooking recipe, it is also widely used to advance long-term projects. In fact, 68 percent of people use search for things they want to address at some point in the future, the highest of any other source whether online or offline. And those searches for future needs largely occur on mobile with 97 percent of people searching on a mobile phone to do so.

Recently published data by Thrive Analytics reinforce this point and show that mobile devices are widely used for general research at the beginning of the purchasing process. Searching for “general information” while “at home” was the most common use case for mobile devices in the study.

I do not doubt the veracity of the results. However, I believe that this research carries an “agenda.” Google by implication is trying to combat the widespread perception that social media use is the reason for mobile use and that search is some kind of secondary tool – at least when it comes to shopping.


Source: Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land