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Understanding Retail Browsing and Product Discovery in 2021

Team InMobi
3 min read
Posted on June 29, 2021

As we noted in a recent blog post, many Americans are already shopping in person. But how are consumers in the U.S. learning about and browsing for new products? To answer this question, we surveyed a representative sample of American adults across the country in May 2021 using InMobi Pulse, InMobi’s mobile market research solution. 

Here’s what we uncovered. 

Top Takeaways 

  • Close to two-thirds of shoppers said they are already browsing for retail items in purchase. 
  • Many consumers (45%), and especially younger Americans, are still turning to online retail marketplaces to browse for retail items. 
  • How Are Americans Browsing For Retail Purchases? 

In late May, 65% of shoppers said they are already browsing for retail purchases in person. This means that the majority of consumers in the U.S. are already comfortable being in stores. 

Who are most likely to be browsing for retail items in person? According to our research, Americans over the age of 55 (67%), people living in suburban areas (69%) and people who are also already making retail purchases in person (83%) were most likely to be engaging in this behavior. Women are also more likely than men (67% vs. 63%) to say they prefer to browse in person. 

Interestingly, 52% said they prefer to browse for retail items in person. This means that even shoppers who don’t prefer to are browsing in person. Americans over 55 years old (60%) and Americans living in rural parts of the country (55%) are most likely to say they prefer to browse in person. 

Why specifically do most Americans browse in person? Top reasons include immediate availability (60%), ability to experience a product before buying (53%) and to avoid having to make a return or exchange (51%).  

The Role of Digital Channels in Browsing 

Overall, 45% said they are currently browsing for retail items on a brand’s own website through a laptop or desktop, while the same percentage said they are using a third-party app or website like Amazon.com. Younger people were most likely to say they are browsing for retail items through these kinds of online marketplaces, with 53% of those between 18 and 34 indicating they engage in this behavior right now. 

Interestingly, most Americans don’t prefer to browse using digital channels. Just over a third said they prefer to browse using a brand’s website, while only 13% they prefer to browse using third-party digital shopping marketplaces. Among Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, just 15% said they prefer to browse for retail items in person. 

Among those who do prefer to browse using third-party services like Amazon.com, 51% said they liked this method because it means they don’t have to go into stores. Further, 46% said they like this method of browsing because it makes it easier to compare prices, while 40% like it because it allows them to shop 24/7. 

What Retails Should Know About Current Browsing Behavior 

When it comes to product discovery, in-person shopping reigns supreme. As our research shows, most consumers not only are browsing in person, but the majority prefer to browse this way too. 

For retailers, this means that current marketing and advertising should focus on driving people into physical storefronts to browse. And for maximum impact, this messaging should highlight the immediacy and physicality of in-person browsing and shopping. 

This doesn’t mean that online browsing should be neglected. Even though this may not be a preferred way to browse for most Americans, it’s still a relatively well used option. 

Interested in learning more? Reach out today to get started

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