Tablets are Changing User Behavior, Not Just Device Choices

By Gary Kim April 27, 2012

As tablets continue to gain rapid adoption, new issues arise about the different ways consumers and workers use each of the smart devices they have access to. We can assume high rates of tablet adoption, in addition to the growing ownership of smartphones and the installed high base of PCs and notebooks.

In the consumer market, tablet ownership will increase by 200 percent across the U.S. and Western European markets over the next two years, predicts Futuresource Consulting. The obvious question device suppliers will ask is "what does that mean for sales of other devices?"

Futuresource predicts netbook sales will see a dip, but some might argue they have been a declining product for some years already. Most consumers seem to see tablets as an addition to conventional PCs or Macs rather than a replacement. What might be less clear is the impact of tablet sales on notebooks, which many users now use as their "PC."

An installed base of nearly 52 million was achieved in 2011 across the two regions, with the market on track to exceed 153 million units in 2013. Ownership will be highest in the USA, with Western European markets showing significant opportunities for growth. Nearly two out of three shoppers use at least one device to research and transact while shopping, and 28 percent use two devices at a time, according to a study sponsored by Local Corp.

Content consumption and shopping are two of the areas where application usage and consumer behavior are assuming potentially different profiles.

The Kindle Fire, for example, has almost doubled its share of the tablet market in the past two months from 29.4 percent share in December 2011 to 54.4 percent share in February 2012, according to comScore.

As you might expect, screen size is directly associated with higher content consumption. For example, 10″ tablets have a 39-percent higher consumption rate than seven-inch tablets and a 58-percent higher rate than five-inch tablets.

Each screen people now use (TV, PC, tablet, smart phone) is "best suited" to particular content approaches, according to BBDO.  If each device was assigned a "persona" or an "archetype," the way content is approached on each screen is easier to understand.

TV is a great place to tell stories. Consumers will go where you take them, willing to explore and discover. They’re open to feeling something and forming a close emotional bond.PC content, on the other hand, must educate and challenge.  

Smartphones are the most personal of all the screens. "Mass communication" is not the way to engage with a consumer on a mobile phone. You must know the consumer intimately. Advertising is tricky and content should be tailored to what you know about each user.

Tablets can take on the attributes of any screen at any time, suggesting that marketers must be flexible and nimble when communicating through them. Be ready to adjust your message, tone and form quickly to jibe with what consumers are doing at any given time with the tablet.

A study by Local Corp. also suggests the different ways people use tablets, PCs and smartphones in the shopping process.

About 47 percent of consumers confirm they use their smartphone to search for local information, including information about the local store they want to visit.

Prior to visiting a store, they use smartphones to conduct further research including looking for competitors’ pricing, checking for sales, previewing products and reading reviews.

Some 46 percent of shoppers look up prices on a store’s mobile site where they intend to shop and 42 percent check inventory prior to shopping in the store.

Edited by Braden Becker

Contributing Editor

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