NEW YORK: Smartphones are increasingly used for product research both in and out of home, but two thirds of US consumers supplement this with store visits as well, according to a new report.

The 2016 Mobile Path to Purchase report from xAd, the location-based mobile adtech firm, was based on surveys of almost 1,000 consumers in the US, more than 1,500 in China and more than 800 in Germany, Japan and the UK.

The study found that store visits remained an especially important part of the path to purchase for US consumers, with 67% making a research trip, 20% up on a year ago; that compared to just 47% of UK consumers.

Online mobile research provides an initial idea of what's available, but being able to see and experience a product in a store can help finalise a purchase decision, the report noted, and marketers need to understand where consumers are on that journey and respond accordingly.

"With multiple location touch-points throughout the day, different messages and calls-to-action should be considered based on where a consumer is in their purchase journey, and where they physically are in the moment," said Sarah Ohle, senior director of insights and innovations at xAd.

"Shoppers may have different needs and wants based on where they are, so understanding the differences in intent depend on where they are in the moment and can help inform messaging tactics," she told Mobile Marketer.

So, for example, when people are at home, messaging could reinforce branding; when they are out and about they could be shown the closest retail store; and when in-store, a specific call-to-action could be deployed.

"By tapping into a consumer's location, retailers not only can provide the same level of in-store offers as online can, but they can also create an incredibly personalized and tailored experience to tap into their immediate needs based on where they are in the moment," said Ohle.

And they may have only a limited opportunity to do so, as more than three quarters of US consumers researching products on their phones were looking to purchase with the next 24 hours.

Data sourced from xAd, Mobile Marketer; additional content by Warc staff