Mobile Thursday?

Plans for Thanksgiving Day smartphone and tablet shopping almost double, Digitas study finds

When evening comes November 22, forget the turkey. Grab your gadget and get ready to buy.

In fact, 28 percent of adult smartphone and tablet owners plan to shop using those mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day, according to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive for Digitas. That's almost double the 15 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and older who made the same claim in 2011.

“The fact that it’s just about a 100 percent year-over-year increase shows the big behavioral change that mobile devices are causing,” said Chia Chen, mobile lead at Digitas. “Mobile is not just a channel—it’s really about this kind of technology-driven cultural change.”

Chen urged stores to prep for a wave of mobile T-day shoppers: “[It’s] a wake up call to make sure that you are absolutely ready as a retailer and a brand to actually interact and engage with consumers via the mobile channel and the mobile devices."

eBay, a Digitas client, plans to capitalize on the trend by promoting its mobile deals starting at 5:23p.m. sharp on Thanksgiving Day, the 5:23 pm (the exact time Americans on average are expected to finish dinner, per an Edelman Berland Survey).

According to a Pew Research poll conducted this summer, 45 percent of American adults (age 18 and older) own smartphones. The percentage is significantly higher among young adults and affluent adults, the study found. 66 percent of adults age 18-29 own smartphones, as do 68 percent of adults in households earning more than $75,000.

The percentage of smartphone and tablet owners planning to shop via mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day is larger among college students, according to the Harris and Digitas data. 38 percent said they'll use those mobile devices for holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day this year, the study found.

Despite the growing demand for mobile shopping, marketers haven't necessarily caught up with consumers. 76 percent of the respondents who shop using a mobile device and a computer said it is easier to shop via desktop. 8 percent said it is easier via mobile.

“One [issue] is that data entry kind of tasks that you want to do is just easier when you have a physical keyboard,” said Chen. “A second is, there are some greater concerns about security on mobile devices, when you’re shopping and have to give payment information."

Markters, meanwhile, are still figuring out how to create the best mobile shopping experiences for consumers. “Mobile experiences aren’t just miniaturized versions of your desktop experience… or they shouldn’t be,” Chen said.

And while holiday shopping has traditionally been associated with Black Friday trips to brick and mortar stores, and in more recent years, with online Cyber Monday deals, “This literally gives marketers a chance to interact with people and influence commerce on the holiday,” said Chen.

Is that a good thing? “It’s definitely an opportunity,” he said. “It’s not a good thing if you’re a physical retailer and you don’t happen to have a mobile commerce presence.”

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.