American Marketer


Anthropology of the mobile consumer

February 13, 2014

Patrick Moorhead is vice president of mobile brand development at Catalina


By Patrick Moorhead

I have been writing a lot these days about what shoppers of consumer packaged goods are looking for when it comes to mobile: time savings, cost savings, convenience (e.g., scan-and-bag) and an experience that is highly personalized.

I have also said that retailers and brands need to build mobile commerce applications that are all-in-one replacements for the store finder, the shopping list, the bar code scanner, the couponing app and whatever else savvy shoppers are firing up on their smartphones in the grocery aisle.

But who is the shopper that retailers should keep in mind as they plan for and implement a mobile commerce solution?

Mum’s the word
It is the early adopter of mobile technology who already uses apps to find bargains and move fast through the store. It is the person who can be impulsive, making as many decisions from the gut as from the head.

It is also the user who is addicted to mobile – who is among the 70 percent who would choose the daily use of a mobile phone over alcohol, or the 21 percent who would give up shoes for the device, according to a July 2011 Telenav study of mobile behavior.

No, I am not talking about the twenty-something dude.

Allow me to introduce you to the “geek mom.”

In many ways, the geek mom is a lot like other shoppers, seeking the same deals as those who still snip their coupons out of weekend circulars.

Now, more than ever, shoppers do not want to pay full price. More than 46 million people will use mobile coupons this year, according to an April 2013 eMarketer report.

Geek mom is also a planner, making lists and planning trips to the store. But as she draws closer to the point-of-purchase, she becomes more spontaneous in her decision-making.

Bagging her business
The geek mom is adopting new mobile commerce technologies faster than anyone at the grocery store. And that makes her the shopper you want most to engage with your app. You can also expect her to visit your stores more often, and spend more.

In fact, mobile commerce shoppers make approximately 41 percent more trips and spend 43 percent more than non-mobile shoppers, according to a recent Catalina study of mobile scan-and-bag users.

But you have got to meet the geek mom on her terms. And for that, targeting and personalization is key: an app that leverages knowledge of what is in her cart and her shopping history can influence her choices at the very moment of truth.

An app that knows the geek mom, and suggests dips and spreads that are friendly to her allergies to go with the crackers the she just scanned into her cart, for example, can lead to a sale.

With Stop & Shop and Walmart leading the way with scan-and-bag apps, grocery and CPG retailers need to start thinking ahead to be competitive.

To that end, I will explore in my next column what the grocery store of the near future will look like.

Previous articles in the series:

Mobile commerce and the consumer packaged goods arms race

Mobile commerce and how personalized value drives adoption

Making the phone a seamless extension of the in-store experience

Patrick Moorhead is Chicago-based vice president of mobile brand development at personalized digital media company Catalina. Reach him at