NEW YORK: US consumers are more likely to engage in webrooming than showrooming, as a new report indicates the latter activity falling out of favour during the past year.

Researcher GfK surveyed shoppers in 17 countries and 15 categories for its 2014 FutureBuy global study of shopping habits and preferences and found that incidents of smartphone showrooming – seeing a product in a store, then buying it online from another retailer using a smartphone – dropped from 37% in the US in 2013 to 28% this year.

Webrooming, on the other hand, where consumers buy in a store after researching a purchase online using a smartphone, was carried out by 41% of respondents.

Among the various age groups, only Generation Z was more likely to showroom more than webroom, and even then not by much: 39% v 34%.

The greatest differences came among Generations X (43% v 29%) and Y (46% v 32%), both of which were 14 points ahead when it came to webrooming. For Baby Boomers there was a 12 point gap (30% v 18%).

Across the 15 product and service categories studied, 44% of US shoppers reported combining online and in-person shopping activities, up seven points on 2013. And this behaviour was percolating down from big ticket purchases to lower priced categories, including beauty and personal care (reported by 39% of shoppers), lawn and garden (29%), and food and beverage (22%).

For those shoppers making their purchases in a bricks-and-mortar environment, the main drivers were the ability to see and feel before buying (58% preferred bricks and mortar, versus 9% online) and to get products sooner (53% v 16%). When online was the preferred purchase avenue, saving money (61% v 28%) and ease of purchase (53% v 24%) were deciding factors.

"The big takeaway from this year's FutureBuy study is how dynamic the shopper environment has become," said Joe Beier, evp/Shopper and Retail Strategy at GfK North America. "We are seeing double-digit point changes in metrics designed to measure relatively foundational behaviours, such as omnichannel and devices used to shop."

Brands needed to build out an up-to-date and nuanced shopper insights platform, he warned, otherwise they were "simply in 'hit-or-miss' mode in execution".

Data sourced from Business Wire; additional content by Warc staff