New Study Shows 'Intent' Behind Mobile Internet Use

- 91% of mobile phone users go online to socialize compared to only 79% of traditional desktop users.

- Mobile phone users are 1.6 times more likely to manage finances compared to traditional desktop users (62% versus 39%).

- Mobile phone users are 1.4 times more likely than traditional desktop users to rally support for a cause (67% versus 47%).

Feb 10, 2010, 10:26 ET from Ruder Finn

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new survey announced today by Ruder Finn, one of the world's largest, independent public relations agencies, Americans are spending an average of 2.7 hours on the mobile Internet – connecting socially, managing their personal finances, and even as a means for advocacy. Ruder Finn's first-ever Mobile Intent Index studies mobile phone user habits and explores the underlying reasons – or intent – people have for accessing the mobile Internet:

According to the Mobile Intent Index, mobile phone users do not access the mobile Internet for educational purposes or for creative expression, as the transitory nature of mobile intent goes against spending time to engage in discussions about personal issues. As expected, usage by gender and age differ – with men accessing the mobile Internet 'to escape,' and women making others laugh.

"Mobile phones have become the way people organize their lives—managing finances, connecting with friends, purchasing products—and this trend will only accelerate," said Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn co-CEO. "The mobile phone is becoming the most powerful online device, and the faster businesses can adapt their services to harness consumer mobile intent, the more rapidly they can capitalize on understanding their customers to drive growth."

The Mobile Intent Index asked respondents how frequently they use their mobile phones to go online for 295 reasons.  The results show that immediacy is the primary factor driving behavior.

"Mobile phone use goes beyond instant gratification," said Marty McGough, director, Ruder Finn Insights. "Our survey data shows that people use their mobile phones out of necessity for instant access to the Web whether it's to conduct business with the most recent information or advocate on the spot on issues of pressing concern and breaking news."

Additionally, the data underscores the rise of phone applications.  Three in five (61%) respondents download applications at least once per month while 36 percent of users download applications from social networking sites at least once per month.

Michael Schubert, Chief Innovation Officer overseeing digital strategy at Ruder Finn added, "Mobile technology means that people no longer have to wait until they're in front of their computers to do their work. And people are taking advantage of that; using mobile devices to do their core work while using desktops to navigate longer format and higher bandwidth content and tools. This is resulting in huge changes – and opportunities – across industries, making mobile an essential channel in keeping businesses competitive."

The Mobile Intent Index follows Ruder Finn's earlier launch of its Intent Index, which provides a new view on why people go online and redefines how we look at demographics.

Mobile Intent Index Survey Results

  • Mobile phones are a social connector.  91% of mobile users go online to socialize, compared to only 79% of traditional users.  They are using their mobile phones "at the moment" to connect with others.  The top socialize intents are:
    • Instant message – 62%
    • Forward e-mails (58%), content (40%) and photos (38%)
    • Post comments on social networking sites – 45%
    • Connect to people on social networking sites – 43%

  • Mobile phones are a personal finance tool.  Mobile phone users (60%) are 1.3 times more likely to go online to do business compared to traditional users (45%).  In fact, they are 1.6 times more likely to manage finances (62% versus 39%).  Mobile phones offer users the chance to conduct business in real time, and this is the major reason that business-related intents are so high.  The top business intents are:
    • Online banking – 46%
    • Check bill/credit card status – 40%
    • Read business blogs – 33%

  • Mobile phones are used for advocacy.  Nearly half of mobile users (49%) go online to advocate compared to only 41% of traditional users.  In fact, they (67%) are 1.4 times more likely than traditional users (47%) to activate support.  Mobile phones offer users the chance to immediately respond to breaking news, whether it is a new piece of legislation or even the latest ongoing development of a corporation or politician under siege.  The top advocacy intents are:
    • Activate support for a cause or position – 67%
    • Post opinions on social networking sites – 45%
    • Forward content on a cause – 40%

  • Mobile phones are not a learning tool.   Mobile users (76%) are much less likely than all users (92%) to go online to learn.  Learning requires time and patience, something mobile phone users are in short supply of.  
    • They (64%) are 1.5 times less likely than the traditional user (96%) to go online to educate themselves
    • They (64%) are 1.4 times less likely than the traditional user (94%) to go online to research.
    • They (95%) are more likely than the traditional user (86%) to go online to keep informed.

  • Mobile phones aren't used for creative expression.  Mobile users are 1.3 times less likely to personally express themselves online (42%) compared to traditional users (54%).  The transitory nature of their intents speaks against spending the time to engage in discussions about personal issues while using their mobile phones.
    • They (41%) are 1.7 times less likely than the traditional user (70%) to go online to opine.
    • They (24%) are 1.8 times less likely than the traditional user (44%) to go online to be creative.

Intent of Mobile Phone Users Differ by Gender and Age

  • Men look at prices but women buy.  When shopping, men are more likely than women to compare prices (47% vs. 30%), but women are more likely to purchase (40% vs. 30%).
  • Women express themselves while men do business.  Women are much more likely than men to personally express themselves (49% vs. 35%) but men are much more likely to do business (62% vs. 57%).
  • Men want to get away.  Men (79%) are much more likely than women (61%) to use their mobile phone to simply "escape."
  • Women want to make others laugh.  Many more women (70%) than men (58%) go online using their mobile devices to entertain others.
  • Youth are the target for retailers. Youth (44%) are more likely to shop over their mobile phones than the average mobile user (35%).
  • Seniors want to learn. Seniors (82%) are much more likely than the traditional user (64%) to use their mobile phones to educate themselves.

About the Mobile Intent Index (

Ruder Finn's Mobile Intent Index is the first study of its kind to examine the underlying motivations or reasons – intents – people have for using their mobile phones.  The representative and Census-balanced online study of 500 American adults 18 years of age and older who "use their mobile device to go online or to access the Internet" was conducted in November 2009 by RF Insights among respondents who belong to Western Wats'  large consumer panel, Opinion Outpost.  The margin of error is +/- 4.4% (95th confidence interval).

About Ruder Finn (

Ruder Finn is one of the world's largest independent PR agencies, with wholly-owned offices spanning the globe. The firm is organized around four strategic pillars that reflect the agency's key areas of leadership: Health & Wellness, Corporate & Public Trust, Global Connectivity and Life + Style.  Expertise includes reputation management, branding, cultural and social issues, and intent driven social media through its digital practices, RF Relate and RF innovation studios.

Ruder Finn clients include:

Air France, Audi, Bayer, BP, Boeing, Bristol Myers Squibb, Chanel, Council of Foreign Relations, Embassy Suites, IEEE, Jamaica Tourist Board, Johnson & Johnson, Liz Claiborne, Microsoft,  Moet Hennessy Diageo, Museum of Modern Art, NEC, Novartis, StubHub, TiVo and the United Nations.

Press Contacts:

Kristie Heins Fox, Ruder Finn

Chris Fallon, Ruder Finn

+1 312 329 3985

+1 212 715 1691 (office)

Twitter: @kristiefox

Twitter: @ChrissyFallon

SOURCE Ruder Finn