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UK consumers use only four mobile apps regularly, new research reveals

UK consumers use only four mobile apps regularly, according to new research by user experience agency Webcredible. The apps used most frequently are for useful, practical purposes such as journey planning, searching for locations, booking tickets or finding voucher deals. The most successful apps were those that had become part of a user’s daily routine.

40% of people taking part in the research had used location-sensitive apps from their phones to find the nearest hotel or coffee shop, while the study also found that 90% used their phones to get quick, necessary shopping tasks done when they were commuting.

None of the participants said they would make an expensive purchase, such as a laptop or car, on their phones, instead preferring to use a PC to view bigger images. Similarly, none would engage in grocery shopping from their phones; citing the small screen making the process tedious and time-consuming.

Webcredible carried out the in-depth study into smartphone user behaviour, in relation to mCommerce, over a period of three weeks. The sample group was made up of 15 participants – a mix of men and women aged between 20 and 55 – covering all social groups.

“The growth in the number of smartphone users accessing online retail sites and apps presents both an opportunity and a threat for retailers,” said Trenton Moss, Founder and Commercial Director at Webcredible. “Mobile access provides more opportunities to engage with consumers, but it also empowers consumers to easily research and compare between competitors at the point of sale. Our research was designed to discover the underlying natural behaviours of users – we found that some key behavioural patterns are widespread across multiple segments of society, revealing trends that retailers can use to build great mobile user experiences.”

All of the eight female participants in the study had a voucher app, such as Groupon or Living Social installed on their phones, which they would check first thing in the morning on their way to work. None of the male participants had voucher apps. Of the female participants, 90% had installed apps that had been recommended to them by friends or family.

60% of the participants had tried the barcode scan feature of some apps, but did not use it regularly. 80% of the group did not know what the term QR (quick response) code meant.

100% of the female sample window shopped from their phones, but would only rarely buy fashion items, preferring to make these purchases on a PC where they could appreciate details such as fabric and colour. However, 20% said they would buy something from their phones that they had previously seen in-store.

The research concluded that all participants used their mobile phones the most during activities which could be classed as ‘wasted time’, such as commuting, waiting in queues and eating alone. They performed quick, short tasks on their smartphones to get things out of the way and better manage their time.

The findings form the basis of a new whitepaper titled ‘Mobile Shopping Behaviour – Key drivers and barriers affecting the adoption of smartphones & mCommerce’, which is available to download for free here:


1 thought on “UK consumers use only four mobile apps regularly, new research reveals”

  1. I had a conversation with a client about this recently – we’re their new business agency. My own personal input was that I find a lower and upper threshold for apps. When I got my most recent phone and my iPad 2, I was quite bored with them until I had around 5 apps on there – a mix of games, the IMDB app and a couple of other things. Then there comes a point where some of the lesser -used apps seem like they are trespassing on space where a more useful/amusing app could go.

    I am more reluctant to remove paid-for apps, or at least I was until a friend pointed out that they cost less than a pint. Comparing apps and the decision to buy them to a real-world product creates an interesting discussion. The decision-making process for an app is longer and more discriminating than that for more expensive purchases such as a restaurant meal, a DVD or 10 minutes gambling on a pub fruit machine!

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