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Consumer trust still key barrier to mobile shopping

Nearly two-thirds (30%) of consumers worldwide consider ‘trust’ the single largest obstacle to using mobile to purchase goods and services, according to new research.

Key findings include:

• Apple was the largest manufacturer on the MEF platform in 2013, growing over five percentage points year-over-year, whilst Samsung remained second largest (Charts A & B)
• Apple and Samsung’s stronghold is even greater in the EMEA region, where they total 71% of platform impressions, compared to 65% globally
• Smartphones accounted for 72% of platform impressions in 2013, whilst impressions from non-phone connected devices grew to 24% in 2013 (Charts E & F)
• Driven primarily by tablets, impressions from non-phone devices is poised to explode in the next few years with the growth of connected cars, appliances, wearable tech, and more
• Devices running Android OS accounted for 54% of platform impressions in 2013, up from 48% in 2012, whilst iOS accounted for 38% (Charts H & I)
• Games was the top application category on our platform in 2013, as it was in 2012 (Chart K)

The findings, from MEF’s Global Trust Report, carried out in partnership with AVG analysed data from 10,000 mobile media users in 13 countries in order to examine the industry-wide issues of privacy, transparency and security to identify their impact on mobile content and commerce consumer behaviours worldwide.

The study found that trust is the number one barrier to the growth of mobile content and commerce with 30 per cent of mobile media users citing it as he single largest obstacle to purchasing goods and services via their mobile device, yet just nine per cent claim to have actually had a negative experience.

Moreover, the issue of consumer trust is growing. This year, 40 per cent named trust as one possible barrier to purchasing via mobile. In 2013, the number was 35 per cent against 27 per cent in 2011. Looking ahead, therefore, a lack of trust will prevent one in two mobile media users from purchasing via their phone by 2015.
In more detail the report identified:


• Over 35s (43 per cent) and smartphone users (44 per cent) are the least trusting. This may reflect the greater risk posed to more advanced mobile devices and a greater understanding of potential dangers among older consumers.
• Trust is not just a barrier to purchase. 37 per cent overall say it prevented them using apps installed on their phone, though this was less of an issue in mature markets such as the UK and USA. Growth markets are more likely to let trust get in the way of buying via their mobile. Mexico and China (49 per cent) top the table, with Saudi Arabia (48 per cent) and Brazil (46 per cent).


• 65 per cent overall are unhappy sharing personal information with an app, with more mature markets particularly reticent (UK – 79 per cent and USA– 76 per cent.
• 16% of people surveyed consider sharing too much information as a barrier to purchase.
• Most consumers take no action to protect their privacy. Long form privacy policies are particularly unpopular with only a quarter, 24 per cent, prepared to read one. Short form policies are popular in the USA (37 per cent) and the UK (32 per cent); also for those for whom convenience (40 per cent) and immediacy (39 per cent) are key purchase drivers.


• 42 per cent think it’s extremely important to know that an app is collecting and sharing data, down from 49% last year.
• Transparency is particularly important to mobile users in the UK (63 per cent), the USA (65 per cent) and the highest spending mobile users (50 per cent).


• 65 per cent are aware of the threat of malware.
• 74 per cent say malware makes them more cautious when downloading apps, or will make them more cautious now they understand what it is.
• Women (80 per cent), over 35s (81 per cent) and heavy spenders (79 per cent) are most concerned.

Andrew Bud, MEF Global Chair said: “This report shows remarkably few consumers are yet ready to take action regarding their concerns about trust in mobile apps. This should not mislead our industry. With a large and growing majority of consumers expressing concern, the mobile industry cannot afford to be complacent about mobile users’ current tolerance.”

“We are witnessing the emergence of a connected generation which has grown up online and has lower expectations of data privacy. This is in stark contrast to those over 35 years of age who in the survey seemed to be much more worried about new technology and its implications,” explains Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer, AVG Technologies.

“We describe today’s connected world as ‘The Internet of Things’, meaning devices are increasingly smart and online. It’s not just about how to manage these mobile devices; it’s a personal issue for individuals to retain control of their personal information and a challenge to society as to what the standards should be. The findings of this report are a call to the mobile industry to do more to help consumers keep their connected world simple, safe and private – and to be transparent about it.”

The global report is part of MEF’s on-going activities to champion and advance Consumer Trust in the mobile industry. This was formalised in 2012 through the creation of a member-led Global Privacy in Mobile Applications Initiative which saw the launch of in 2013; a free online developer resource that generates a best practice short form privacy policy that delivers the transparency their consumers want.

The full MEF Global Consumer Trust 2014 Report is available to members only. Non-members can download a copy of the Executive Summary here.

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