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NEW YORK -- Gas prices are on motorists’ minds even before they pull up to the pump, as results from a new study indicate.
According to the xAd/Telmetrics 2013 U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study, two out of three gas and convenience searchers are using mobile exclusively for their searches. The study, conducted by Nielsen, also shows that 85 percent of search time is spent on a smartphone with most users conducting gas price comparisons/searches.
"Mobile is the dominant media used in this on-the-go category and while searchers are making most decisions within an hour, they are paying attention to advertising and taking time to conduct price and location searches," said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing at xAd. "With the majority of searchers open to purchase options, advertisers have a strong opportunity to influence mobile gas and convenience buying decisions."
The gas and convenience category offers one of the highest mobile conversion rates -- nearly 90 percent -- as most mobile users who search for these services ultimately make a purchase. With a very high conversion rate, the No. 1 reason mobile gas and convenience searchers say they use their device in this category is to "find a gas and convenience business to purchase from," according to the study.
In addition, more than half of smartphone searchers plan to make a purchase within the hour, while 88 percent of those smartphone and tablet purchases will be made the same day. While these are relatively quick decisions, gas and convenience searchers spend an average of six minutes per mobile search session -- 50 percent longer than the average retail mobile search session.
These searches open a window of opportunity for advertisers. The study revealed that 75 percent of mobile gas and convenience searchers notice ads and only 10 percent have a specific brand or business location in mind.
When searching, mobile consumers prefer to use apps over websites. The study found that 49 percent of smartphone users are searching for gas and convenience using apps exclusively. Overall, mobile searchers are spending 97 percent of their gas and convenience search time on apps. Comparison sites/apps, such as GasBuddy.com, are the most commonly used among 52 percent of mobile searchers as price and location are key search factors.
"With some of the heaviest app usage and highest conversion rates we've seen in our Mobile Path-to-Purchase research series, it is important that gas and convenience advertisers work with marketing providers that ensure their businesses can be found in apps in addition to mobile sites," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. "Advertisers have a chance to drive more purchases by ensuring their mobile presence is optimized with location and pricing [information]."
Price and location are the top decision drivers behind gas and convenience mobile searches and 69 percent of smartphone searchers made a purchase because of price or location. In addition, three out of four mobile searchers are looking for a location within a 5-mile radius and a "close business location" is the most important feature, even more so for smartphone users.
Location cues are important as well. More than half of mobile searchers (55 percent) said they use their device to look up locations, 35 percent look for contact information and 34 percent look up directions. Overall, 89 percent of the category's mobile users searched for gas, while oil change and convenience store searches were each conducted by 20 percent of searchers.
This behavioral data is part of a greater study, which is the first to measure what consumers report they are doing via mobile devices and then capture their actual preferences and behaviors across the retail, gas/convenience, banking/finance and insurance categories. Results from the second annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study are based on data from an online survey of 2,000 U.S. smartphone and tablet users and actual observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen's Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.