NEW YORK: A "mobile shopping culture" is starting to develop among US smartphone owners, a new study has argued.

PriceGrabber, a unit of research provider Experian, surveyed 7,987 people possessing devices like the iPhone, and reported the average participant has downloaded 21 applications to date.

More specifically, three of these tools were directly related to shopping, suggesting apps will play an increasingly important role in consumer purchase behaviour going forward.

Another 72% of the sample already received coupons, updates about special deals or price alerts via this medium, presenting a further opportunity for marketers to engage their target audience.

Elsewhere, 55% regularly browsed the internet from wireless handsets and 34% compared prices online while in brick-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, 33% of contributors utilised the same route to identify nearby outlets where they could acquire products, and 21% had scanned a barcode with their phone to see which vendor was the cheapest.

Graham Jones, general manager at PriceGrabber, predicted rising smartphone penetration would stimulate the acceleration of such trends.

The firm's analysis revealed that 11% of the panel first bought smartphones during 2007, with 16% doing so in 2008, reaching 22% across 2009, and 20% last year.

"Mainstream consumer adoption of smartphones, coupled with a consumer focus on getting the best deal, has helped to create a culture where consumers are becoming more and more reliant on their phones for their shopping needs," he said.

"With a growing number of consumers utilising their mobile phones to purchase goods and services, retailers must adapt to this technology quickly or be left behind."

Looking at the electronics category, PriceGrabber found 66% of buyers attempted to uncover "as much information as possible" before choosing between competing products.

Exactly 48% typically sought out the most appealing deal, and 25% "loved" to pick up the latest appliances and gadgets.

Data sourced from PriceGrabber; additional content by Warc staff