Desktop or mobile? How customers are influenced by the device they use

Consumer usage trends point to a user preference for mobile. But when trying to convince customers to buy, is desktop more important?

In research that has ramifications for where you spend your digital dollar, a new study has found that the type of device used by customers — touchscreen (mobile and tablet) or desktop — can influence what they buy.

Touchscreen makes us more indulgent

In short, when using touchscreens people seem more likely to indulge in hedonistic, pleasurable products (like chocolate and massages), whereas desktops encourage them to favour utilitarian, functional ones (like bread, calculators and printers).

According to research leader Dr Ying Zhu, “the playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers’ favour of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers’ preference for utilitarian products”.

Product type affects how you engage customers

This adds to the research on how customers can be influenced differently according to the psychological bucket in which your product is placed.

For instance, research into pricing found that:

• Rounded pricing (e.g. $40.00) worked better for hedonic products and non-rounded (e.g. $39.72) for utilitarian; however,
• If a utilitarian product (e.g. camera) was used for a hedonistic reason (e.g. holiday), rounded pricing was preferred.

Implications for you

The latest research is a reminder that your customer’s environment will influence how they respond to you. In this case, the environment is the device they are using.

Your role, therefore, is to consider how you can get them to use the device that best supports your product type. If you largely sell utilitarian products, how can you encourage them to use desktop? If hedonism is your game, engagement through touchscreen should be the hero.

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