Digitizing Offline Search: An Empirical Analysis of Search Behavior on the Mobile Internet
58 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015 Last revised: 22 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 22, 2018
Smartphones change the way consumers search and also provide new opportunities to measure consumer search. While smartphones have facilitated access to product information by providing Internet access anywhere and at any time, very little is known about whether and how smartphones have changed the way consumers search for product information. In this paper, we study these unique aspects of mobile search behavior by defining novel mobile search measures as well as by using established measures of search based on search breadth and depth. Analyzing search behavior of 2.5 million consumers for 1.8 million different products from a leading European product information and bar code-scanning app, we find that consumers search for more detailed information about specific products (search depth), but rarely compare between different competing products using their smartphones (search breadth). However, both search breadth and depth on mobile are lower than reported in the previous literature. Our results also suggest that consumers search at all times and locations and that most searches are conducted far away from stores. Finally, our mobile search measures based on previous distances to stores as well as store densities are highly predictive of consumers’ future visits in store proximity. We discuss the implications of our findings for firms.
Keywords: Consumer Search, Mobile Marketing, Consideration Sets, Location-Based Services, Big Data
JEL Classification: M31, D83, C23, C25, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation