Rosetta’s Consulting Practice recently conducted a study of tablet owners to better understand some of the idiosyncrasies of how people purchase tablets, how their usage of tablets evolves over time, where they use tablets and what activities they prefer to do on a tablet versus smartphones or PCs.
The Tablet Trends Study is part of an ongoing analysis of consumer behaviors being conducted at Rosetta and we’ll share additional details over the next several months. For highlights of tablet trends, read the full press release and view the full infographic below.
To get more details on key findings, I sat down with Jay Lichtenstein (Partner in Rosetta’s Consulting Practice) and Daniel Blackburn (VP of Mobile) for a Q&A session on this particular study.
G.C.: Why conduct this study?
J.L.: Most of the research we have seen about tablet and mobile behaviors puts all users into one bucket of people that own the device. When you start to look at the needs and desires of those device owners, you see very different segments of customers that use the product in different ways over time and within different contexts.
Our team does regular client research around how consumers are using smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, IPTVs and other devices, but we wanted to look specifically at how device behaviors (usage, locations of usage) and preferences for tablets for certain tasks change over time. In addition, we also wanted to look at the things they regularly do on tablets and see what they prefer to do on a tablet versus a smartphone or a PC.
D.B.: It’s important to leverage intelligence as the basis for all activity. That includes syndicated data, client-side metrics as well as proprietary studies like this one. This is especially important as tablets start to become the primary touch points to achieve certain tasks and as we need to understand not only their specific behavior, but also behavior within the context of a larger ecosystem.
G.C.: What are some of the most impactful new findings from the study regarding tablets?
J.L.: By looking at different tablet owners that have owned the device over time and by asking what they did in the beginning versus what they do now, we learned people tend to do a lot more activities in the first one to six months, in what we call the “honeymoon phase.” Interestingly, a tablet was just one of multiple devices our respondents used and after the honeymoon phase and, after that honeymoon was over, they started to prefer their computers over tablets for certain tasks. Examples include video chat, interacting with social networks, managing finances and shopping for products
The breadth of places people are using tablets is also interesting. We expected usage in the living room, kitchen, etc., but didn’t expect such high percentages in the bedroom, bathroom and even outside the home (for example, on the patio). This data about device usage in different locations, combined with our device preference data, reinforced that tablets are not necessarily the primary devices for a lot of things; instead, it is an ad-on device so you can keep accessing info anywhere.
The study also covered how people research and buy tablets. A notable 12% of tablets were given as gifts. A higher number of users (21%) purchased tablets at retail websites like Bestbuy.com or Amazon.com, compared to just 11% who buy directly from the manufacturer’s website. This was interesting because outside of talking to friends, the most likely place users research a tablet is on the manufacturers website (34% of buyers do so).
D.B.: Something particularly unexpected is that I think people would generally think of a tablet as a device used in home, whereas smartphones are out of home. Each of those contexts has an influence on the way we define the role of each device. This study represents one departure from that assumption and as tablets are increasingly making their way out of the home we could see some changes in how we would engage users in branded experiences on those devices.
G.C.: How should marketers use this data?
J.L.: For marketers of consumer electronics products, knowing how people really use tablets and how their behavior changes over time is helpful in determining factors such as features, functionality, and even device content to focus on building in the product ecosystem, all to help keep users engaged with their products over time. Also, since most manufacturers are entering more than just the hardware business, seeing the interplay that occurs between tablets, smartphones and PCs can be useful in determining things like which screen to launch digital services on first, etc. Lastly, understanding the process by which people research and purchase tablets can have obvious implications on marketing spend.
For all marketers, looking at consumers through the lens of different segments, each with varying needs based on length of ownership, maturity as a device user, and location they use the devices, marketers can find new ways to improve an interaction with a customer.
G.C.: What recommendation do you have for marketers?
J.L.: Don’t take a myopic view of the world and consumers, particularly with tablets and other emerging connected devices where behaviors are still changing rapidly.
D.B.: With all of its technology and innovation, it’s hard to remember that capitalizing on the mobile opportunity is really about creating deep personal relationships with the end user. By leveraging data, such as from this study, it helps us humanize the trends and to better understand the consumers’ needs, attitudes and behaviors.
We’ll release more information soon, including details regarding a webinar, so please check back soon. In the meantime, feel free to share your comments and questions.
The study included 889 respondents and was fielded in late Q4 2011.