Affluents Are Getting Mobile

Adopting tablets and smartphones at a rapid pace, Affluents’ mobile ownership has risen from 9% to 41% over the last two years. Of course, the pace of mobile growth among the Affluent isn’t nearly as compelling as how they are using these digital devices.

I recently authored a piece for MediaPost that details the true impact of mobile devices on Affluent lives and explores the key differences in how Affluents use smartphones and tablets. Using the findings from our 2013 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, my MediaPost article shares valuable insight into the digital devices ownership rate, and how these devices are used by the Affluent. Below is a summary of these findings.

1) Smartphone activities often skew local. Given the highly portable nature of smartphones, it is unsurprising that smartphones are used more widely for activities that leverage local content. Checking the weather is the most widely engaged-in activity, followed closely by using e-mail and accessing maps or directions.

2) Tablets are used for a more diffuse set of activities. While the most common smartphone activities (highlighted above) were done by nearly three in four, only two activities were done by a majority of tablet owners – the broad and generic “use an app” and using email. Tablet activities are more idiosyncratic, while smartphone activities are more concentrated in the smaller number of activities for which the device is ideally suited.

3) Gaming and app downloading still prevalent, but slowing. Half of smartphone owners, and nearly half of tablet owners, have played games on their devices in the past 30 days, however both figures are down from 2012.

4) Media preferences differ by device. Nearly half of smartphone owners listened to music on their phone, and 29% listened to radio specifically (compared to 26% and 13% respectively, for tablet owners). Tablets skew significantly higher in many forms of reading, including reading books, newspapers and magazines. Interestingly, reading blogs is equally prevalent on both devices, and smartphones are more commonly used for reading sports news and following sports scores.

5) Shopping patterns also differ by device: About half (53%) of smartphone owners and tablet owners made purchases on their device in the past year – incidence figures unchanged from a year ago. While app and game purchases remain popular, both are trending down among smartphone and tablet owners, consistent with the usage trend described above. Examining other purchase categories reveals that smartphones are more likely to be used for music purchases and take-out/delivery food orders, while tablets are more likely to be used for purchases of books and apparel.

For an examination of the differences in Affluent use of tablets and smartphones, you can view my entire MediaPost article here.