Do Smartphones Make for Smarter Consumers?


Howard J. Deane


Consumers Council of Canada (CCC)




This research examined smartphone apps spawned by the emerging trend of large retailers in providing product and purchase information through smartphones. It sought to identify information consumers need/use at point of purchase of products, whether these applications effectively meet these needs and whether further information not typically provided in these apps can assist consumers. Given that these applications are often used when a purchase is made, a time when consumers are more susceptible/vulnerable to incorrect or biased information, the potential for consumer protection issues related to the use of these applications exists.

For those unfamiliar with the use of retailer apps on smartphones, this will introduce them to a combination of technology and content that can aid them in making a smarter purchase decision. It will also enable them to assess these apps against the risks to the privacy and security of their personal information and identity. It will enable them to advocate better for their rights as consumers. This research will help consumers make smarter purchase decisions – faster, better and cheaper, and with greater ease.

This research will assist others providing technology and the content with better ways to engage a demanding consumer who has a strong desire for more information, wherever they are.

CCC sought the answers to four questions in undertaking this research:
- How well do these retailer apps work against stated claims?
- How well do these retailer apps work against a comprehensive Evaluation Grid of consumer needs for point of purchase decisions?
- What are the consumer protection issues regarding the information made available through such apps?
- What further point of sale information can reasonably and competitively be made available, and with what effort, by retailers?

CCC examined eight Canadian retailer apps against a detailed Evaluation Grid of consumer functionality for such apps. CCC reviewed these eight apps with four Focus Groups of smartphone users in Montreal and Toronto and solicited requirements for retailer apps. CCC conducted a literature survey and researched issues relating to smartphones and retailer apps to provide contextual information.

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Consumers Council of Canada
201-1920 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON  M4S 3E2
(416) 483-2696

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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