MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: More than seven in ten Americans own a smartphone and the majority of them turn first to these devices at moments of need, according to research from Google.
The internet giant asked 1,000 smartphone users to take a short poll several times a day for a week to indicate what kinds of needs they had throughout the day and the actions they took to meet them.
It identified four types of need moment – I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy – and reported that "our phones are far and away our most trusted resource, with 96% of people using a smartphone to get things done".
People are at least twice as likely to use search as other online or offline sources such as store visits or social media, it said; "not only is search the most used resource, it's the resource 87% of people turn to first," said Lisa Gevelber, VP/marketing at Google.
She added that the use of search was not limited to immediate needs, as more than two thirds (68%) of respondents also used this tool to help them with things they wanted to address at some point in the future – the highest of any other online or offline source.
At I-want-to-know moments, 66% used their phones, with 81% using search compared to 55% who visited a non-retailer website or app; 40% looked at images or photos online, while 34% visited a retailer website or app and 26% watched online video.
What happens in these moments affects purchase decision, Google noted: 85% took a relevant action on their phone prior to making a purchase.
For I-want-to-go moments, 79% used their phones, with 69% using search compared to the 55% taking the next most-popular action which was visiting a non-retailer website or app.
I-want-to-do moments produced a similar response, with 69% using search compared to the 34% taking the next most-popular action which was visiting a non-retailer website or app.
For I-want–to-buy moments, however, people tended to be more certain of what they wanted. Some 65% used their phones, but 71% of them went straight to a retailer website or app, while 64% used search.
"As marketers we have to connect the information we provide across screens, channels, and formats," said Gevelber. "And search, particularly on mobile, is where to start."
Data sourced from Google; additional content by Warc staff