Last updated: Mobile consumer trends: SMS marketing, mobile wallets on the rise

Mobile consumer trends: SMS marketing, mobile wallets on the rise


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The smartphone is fast becoming consumers’ preferred device for shopping, interacting with brands, receiving promotions, and buying stuff.

A new report provides fascinating insight into mobile consumer trends and how younger generations are driving them. The study confirms what we’ve known for some time: Mobile commerce is mainstream.

Trends revealed in the survey of 1,000 consumers by Vibes, a mobile marketing company, include:

  1. SMS is overtaking email for consumer engagement
  2. Mobile wallets are gaining traction 
  3. Mobile consumers want personalization
  4. Smartphones can give loyalty programs a lift

Mobile consumer trend: SMS tops email

Texting has become such a core means of communication that it’s surpassing email for customer engagement. Vibes’ study found that 32% of younger consumers — those under 55 — prefer to hear from brands through SMS compared to 26% who prefer email.

After all, SMS is quicker and more convenient, which today’s consumer expects.

If a brand reaches out to them via SMS or a mobile app push notification, consumers are apparently fine with most anything, but coupons top the list (46%) followed by shipping and delivery status messages (42%) and promotions and discounts (41%).

Other kinds of texts that consumers welcome include appointment reminders (32%), prescription refill reminders (46%), and back-in-stock notices (22%).

Mobile messaging is becoming ubiquitous: Almost 70% of those polled said they’ve received texts and push notifications from a brand on their smartphone.

Smartphone wallets get popular

A growing number of consumers are using their smartphones to make purchases, store tickets, and more, making these portable wallets a top mobile consumer trend.

More than half of younger consumers are already using or interested in using the mobile wallet on their smartphone to store things like digital promotions and loyalty cards, according to the Vibes report.

Separate PYMNTS research showed that consumers  are increasingly using smartphones more than PCs to buy goods.

Use of mobile devices to purchase non-grocery retail items grew 49% between December 2021 and March of this year, according to PYMNTS. At the same time, grocery purchases made via mobile devices increased 35%.

Generation Z and millennials are driving the popularity of smartphones for financial transactions, that study showed.

Yet more evidence that mobile wallets are on the rise: Nearly 40% of consumers surveyed by Union, a hospitality engagement platform, said they prefer to pay with apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay instead of credit cards at bars and restaurants.

Mobile consumers want the personal touch

According to the Vibes study, more than two out of five smartphone users will give a brand personal information in exchange for personalized experiences.

  • 54% will provide their email
  • 44% will provide their name
  • 43% will give their mobile number

Thirty-five percent said as long as a brand’s mobile messages are personalized and relevant, they don’t mind the frequency. And 70% said they’ll save promotions or coupons that are tailored to them to their mobile wallet.

But brands that miss the mark and bombard customers with irrelevant texts are likely to drive consumers away.

Interestingly, it appears younger people have a lower bar when it comes to personalization: Survey respondents under 40 said brands are doing a good job at relevant mobile messaging while those over 40 were more likely to be dissatisfied.

Boosting consumer loyalty via mobile messaging

The growth of mobile commerce provides brands with opportunities to ramp up their customer loyalty programs. That is, if they get personalization right.

Almost 20% of consumers polled said for brands they do business with, relevant rewards would motivate them to join a loyalty program.

More than half of smartphone users said they currently use or plan to use their devices for redeeming promotions and coupons.

Messaging must be accurately tailored for the individual customer, but companies also need to provide a stellar mobile experience once they attract smartphone users to their mobile app. Thirty-two percent of survey respondents — especially younger ones ages 21 to 24 — said they’ll stop using an app that’s too slow or hard to use.

With smartphones firmly entrenched in our daily lives, the mobile future is here. Brands know this, now it’s time to act.

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