Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

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eMarketer case study

Company: eMarketer

Published: 19 March 2014

Business Area: Mobile & Local

Format: Portable Document Format (.pdf)



Mobile has attracted a sizeable bulk of US consumers, but the vast majority use desktop and laptop computers along with mobile devices.

Truly mobile-only consumers are relatively rare, and their lack of use of other devices is probably a question of economics, not a matter of choice. Mobile offers a cheap way to go online.

But a different sort of mobile-only consumer is coming into focus. This subset uses mobile exclusively, or almost exclusively, for certain activities and channels, such as social, search or music. Within these channels, these "selective mobile-only" users, or SMOs, are essentially unreachable for marketers that aren't specifically targeting mobile.

In effect, certain desktop sites have a 20% to 30% blind spot - an important consideration in the planning, execution and measurement phases of campaigns.

"Research tells us there really are people who only shop on mobile," said Johnna Marcus, director of mobile and digital store marketing at Sephora. "We have data showing 31% of those with mobile internet are using it exclusively - it's their only connection. We're not just thinking of mobile as an augment, but really building things out to be mobile-first and be mobile-primary.”

Key questions addressed in this report include:

  • Who are the "selective mobile-only" users, or SMOs?
  • What sectors and sites have more SMO users?
  • How can marketers reach SMOs in their mobile channels?

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