Category Archives: Demographics & Econographics

Generational Wealth – in Tech Devices [TUPdate]

Millennials may be getting bad press for lagging in real estate and financial investments, but they’re well invested in tech devices. Millennials use the largest number of connected devices per capita, including more than the next-younger generation – GenZ. PCs are the major device for all generations, while tablets have tumbled in usage among younger adults.

This TUPdate shares a top-level view into generational differences – in their use of technology devices, and their financial net worth and assets. The results are based on TUP/Technology User Profile waves from 2014 through 2019 in the US, and the US Government’s Survey of Consumer Finances along with estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank. The US Federal Reserve Bank made headlines earlier this year when they released the latest DFA – Distribution of Financial Accounts.

GenZ settling down faster? Or Millennials hanging on?

Each successive generation has been using more devices than the one older, however that’s recently changed. When the first members of the GenZ generation (born 1997 and after) turned 18 in 2015, their average number of devices was the highest ever seen by any generation – 5.8 on average.

Since 2015, GenZ has bucked the trend of their elders by reducing their tech device usage faster than those slightly older. Beginning in 2017, GenZ use fewer devices than Millennials. It’s not only that GenZ reduced use, but also that Millennials are continuing to use more than most. From 2014 through 2019, American Millennials have used 20% more devices than the average American.

Overall drop in number of devices used

The year 2015 marked a turning point for connected devices in the US, as the national average number of devices in regular use by adults began consolidation. In 2015, online Americans used an average of 4.5 devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs, and game consoles. This has declined steadily each year with the current average in 2019 being 3.8.

This widespread reduction is due to many reasons. One major factor in consolidation is what people do with their devices. Although cross-platform and browser-based apps have been available for some time, we’re seeing users stretch beyond their habitually favored devices to slowly but steadily extend activities across more than single devices. With growth in spreading activities across devices, this in turn reduces the need to use as many. For example, while in the past many would primarily use a home desktop PC for online banking, a growing number have moved their banking to their tablets or smartphones. (For more details on these shifts, please see Smartphones Rise, PCs and Printers Float, Tablets Waver – User Trends)

PC reigns as essential

PCs continue as a bedrock device for all generations. However, they are a smaller share among GenZ than among older generations. 36% of the connected devices GenZ use are PCs, and this share rises with each generation, reaching almost half (46%) of connected devices used by the Silent and earlier generations. Smartphones are a solid second device among all generations and make up between 25% to 30% of devices in active use. Game consoles rank highest among GenZ and Millennials, versus tablets for older generations. And to the extent basic cell phones are being used by anyone, they are most firmly in the hands of the oldest generation.

Tablets recede among GenZ while elders get smarter

In 2015, the mix of devices by generation was like 2019 in most respects, with several crucial differences. Among GenZ, tablets were stronger and have since then faded to be replaced by wider PC use. The Boomer generation has nearly let go of their basic cell phones and moved to smartphones. Game consoles were just as youth-oriented in 2015 as in 2019 and are continuing in active use even as each generation ages.

American Millennial Tech Wealth

Most connected devices are in the hands of Millennials. 37% of total connected devices – mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and game consoles – are in the hands of millennials – American adults born between 1981 to 1996. This is far above the tech holdings of GenX and Boomer generations.

The share of devices nationally for Millennials and Gen Xers has not shifted significantly over the last five years. The share of tech devices among Boomers, meanwhile, has dropped. Some of this reduction is due to boomers leaving the workforce, and so no longer using employer-provided PCs.

Boomers and GenX are nearer to each other in size, as both are shrinking and yielding to younger generations.

Consumer Durables by generation

Looking more broadly beyond tech devices shows a similar but more delayed pattern. As Federal Government economists measure consumer durables, tech devices are only a fraction. Millennials show a growing share of American consumer durables as their numbers grow, but a much smaller share than their share of tech devices. Also, Baby Boomers and Silent and Earlier have a relatively larger share of consumer durables than tech devices.

Millennials are showing stronger and growing participation in the economy. Their share of consumer durables is still smaller than other generations. However, its growth is on par. Despite having higher debt levels than other generational groups, Millennials are continuing to buy tech and durable products.

The Federal Reserve Bank develops this information from the ongoing Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and Financial Accounts of the United States. (Note: The Fed does not yet include GenZ in this data.)

Net Financial Wealth by Generation

In one the most widely cited measures from the Fed’s results, net financial wealth, Millennials have the lowest financial net worth. Millennials, defined as Americans born between 1981 and 1996, have less net financial net wealth than any other generation. Net worth accounts for the value of assets above liabilities.

Looking ahead
Just as economic mobility doesn’t shift quickly, neither do habits around technology usage nor buying. Looking ahead, I expect Millennials to continue to lead in number of tech devices used and GenZ to have slightly less. As to device types, game consoles will continue to skew younger and are unlikely to reach much of a larger share of user’s devices than today’s levels. PCs will continue to be the major device among older adults, although falling out of top usage among GenZ somewhat.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Home PC Penetration Update [TUPdate]

Home PC Penetration is Stable

Home PCs continue to be a feature of online Americans. Four out of five online American adults regularly use a home PC, and this share has remained unchanged from 2015 through 2019. This is based on results from the 2015 through 2019 waves of TUP/Technology User Profile.

Use of more than one home PC has also remained stable. Half of online adults use only one home PC, a rate that has only varied by three percent over five years. Similarly, the usage rate has remained the same for the use of two home PCs and for three or more home PCs. Neither are online Americans accumulating or letting go of home PCs.

Home PC Use by Age Group

Across all age groups, most online Americans use only one home PC. Single home PC use is lowest among younger adults and highest among older adults. Use of two or more home PCs is hardly different by age group, ranging from 26% to 31%.

In 2015, the patterns were similar. Home PC usage among younger adults is slightly lower, at 28% of those age 18-24 in 2019, down from 25% in 2015, although this drop is not material.

Doubling and Tripling Up Among the Young

Home PC penetration has stayed strong while smartphone and tablet penetration has grown, especially among younger adults. In 2019, smartphone penetration is higher than home PC penetration among online adults age 54 and younger.  Tablet use is highest among adults age 25-44, strong users of all three devices.

Looking ahead

Habits die hard, and consumers hold onto some technology as a safeguard. Home PCs are likely to maintain their penetration levels for the next decade. However, TUP has already shown that home PCs have been losing their preeminence to smartphones as the primary device of choice for most activities. So, consumers will retain and replace home PCs as an insurance policy for those times when they are more convenient than either smartphones or tablets.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Devices, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Technology adoption, Trends, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Alone Americans – Overlooked Technology Users? [TUPdate]

Sometimes the slow-moving trends are the ones that get missed. Coupled with preconceived notions, these have the makings of blind spots. For many tech companies, single-person American households may be an overlooked market segment.

Based on research by the U.S. Census and our TUP/Technology User Profile service, 1-person American households are a sizable and growing segment with more to them than may be apparent at first. Also, they are not created equally, especially in which technology products and services they actively use.

Tech marketers often advertise with images of bustling families juggling their lives and devices. Soccer moms abound. This perpetuates a myth that’s leaving many out in the less connected and underserved cold. Furthermore, many companies from Amazon to Spotify and T-Mobile have created family plans that financially favor multi-person households, making their offerings less attractive to the many 1-person households.

While it makes sense for any marketers to focus on the biggest-seeming opportunities, and families are big tech consumers, sometimes this is done out of habit or custom, which may mean missing opportunities.

The number of single-person households has grown in share and number

The US Census reports that single-person households make up 28% of households in 2018, up substantially up from 13% in 1960. Similarly, the number of households has also grown, at 35.7 million in 2018, up from 6.9 million in 1960. Whether through preference or necessity, 1-person households are a substantial slice of the American market. Most forecasts indicate the share remaining stable for years to come.

On First Glance, 1-Person Households Seem Tech-Avoidant

When it comes to the devices Americans in 1-person households use, our TUP/Technology User Profile service shows that as a group, they’re behind the curve. American 1-person households appear to be languishing in technology’s past. They are 27% more likely than the average online American adult to still be using a home PC using Windows 7, the Microsoft operating systems nearing its end of life. The replacement for Windows Vista officially came off Microsoft’s mainstream support four years ago – in January 2015. Extended support has been available, yet that support is scheduled to be discontinued in less than one year, by January 2020. Also, 1-person households are well above average (22% higher than average) in their use of a home-owned basic feature phone.

In contrast, American households where children are present have well above-average rates of using many key devices – Windows tablets, game consoles, and Apple Notebooks. This simple view may clarify why some companies prefer to simply tailor their products and services to larger households and avoid smaller ones.

However, looking more deeply into 1-person households, there’s more than household size and core technology that reveals their differences.

A Deeper Look – Young and Old Singles

Within 1-person households, there’s a striking difference between younger and older adults in the profile of their technology usage. The highest usage index for Windows 7 home PCs is among older (age 35+) singles, at 48% higher than the national average. Similarly, there’s an index of 131 for use of a home-owned basic feature phone.

In stark contrast, among younger 1-person households, usage is strongly higher for many key technology devices: game consoles, Apple iPhones, Apple PCs (Macs), Apple notebooks, and Windows tablets.

However, age alone does not adequately describe 1-person households and their technology usage, nor does combining age and household size. There are yet other factors.

Size, Age, and Employment Status

Drilling down into the TUP/Technology User Profile results even more deeply, the combination of household size, age group, and employment status shows even stronger differences.

Have a job – part-time or full-time or even self-employed – and be younger than 40, and you’ll be among the highest technology adopters among 1-person households.

They are above average in using a Windows or Android Tablet, an Apple PC, iPhone, and game console.

The lowest technology adopters are those not employed outside the household and in 1-person households, both younger and older. These have the highest relative levels of using Windows 7 home PCs and home basic cell phones.

Family Plans Aren’t Only Used by Families

Interestingly, even while family/multi-person plans are ostensibly targeted at larger households, a substantial number of 1-person households are using them.

Nearly one-fourth (24%) of 1-person households have a smartphone plan with 2 or more lines. Similarly, “family” paid media subscriptions such as for music or TV are being used by 18% of America adults in 1-person households.

Looking ahead

Shifts in population may seem glacial especially by those in technology industries who are accustomed to frequent shifts. People change their living situations less quickly than they change their adoption of technology. Consequently, technology companies would be better served, as would 1-person households, to the extent these users are included in their offerings.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the 2018 wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Households, Market Research, Market Segmentation, Market Sizing, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2018, Usage Patterns

Are we exclusive? An update on ecosystem exclusivity, dominance, and non-exclusivity [TUPdate]

Do customers act on ecosystems, choosing to focus within a brand’s family for their products and services? How many technology users are exclusive, or at least favor one over another?

Only one in eight (12%) of online adults around the world are truly exclusive, using products and services from only one of either Apple, Google, or Microsoft. This is based on the most recent wave of the MetaFacts TUP survey (Technology User Profile 2018), conducted among 14,273 online adults.

Nearly twice as many actively use a balanced mixture of ecosystems. True non-exclusivity is being actively practiced by one-fourth (25%) of online adults. (see the Methodology below for details on the segmentation approach used in this analysis.)

The largest group of users is between exclusivity and non-exclusivity, slightly favoring one ecosystem while still actively using at least one other. Over six in ten (62%) of online adults are in these segments. The Google-Dominant segment is on par with the Apple-Dominant segment, each representing one in five online adults.

Apple’s most-focused are more broadly invested in Apple’s ecosystem than are Google’s or Microsoft’s best. Most of Apple’s strength is supported by their connected devices – iPhones, iPads, and Macs to a lesser extent. The Apple-Exclusive (3% of online adults) use an average of 2.3 connected devices, and among the Apple-Dominant, this average is 2.1 devices. Use of voice assistant Apple Siri is the second-most component among the Apple-Exclusive, and also tied for second place among the Apple-Dominant. The Apple-Dominant are equally active with Microsoft devices, primarily Windows PCs.

The Google-Exclusive (3% of online adults) only use 1.4 Google devices on average, primarily an Android smartphone. Android tablets and Chromebooks aren’t as widely used among the Google-Exclusive as are Apple’s devices among the Apple-Exclusive.

The Microsoft-Exclusive (6% of online adults) show a pattern of entrenchment. Only Microsoft devices are in use besides some nominal use of Microsoft Cortana or Xbox consoles. The Microsoft-Dominant are a bit more exploratory, including a small number of Google devices and some use of Microsoft Cortana.

Profile of the Ecosystem Exclusivity Segments

Each ecosystem has appealed to very different groups of people, especially with respect to life stage. While Apple’s most-exclusive users have a higher share (44%) of younger adults with children, nearly half (48%) of Google’s most-exclusive users are not employed outside the home and don’t have children. This bodes well for Apple’s services and devices that bring extra value to families, such as Apple’s Family Sharing feature, which enables a way to share music, books, cloud storage and other Apple services between multiple users.

The Microsoft-Exclusive segment is singular, with nearly a third (32%) of its members being in a one-person household. The Apple and Google segments are relatively similar to each other, although Google’s have slightly more household members.

Looking ahead

It’s increasingly a multi-device, multi-person world. Sharing between one’s devices and platforms will continue to grow as a user need, as will sharing with others between disparate ecosystems. Although companies may aim for exclusivity, interoperability is more important. It involves the largest part of the market. Exclusive users will remain a small group of loyal fans willing and able to narrow their choices. Although the non-exclusive make up a sizable segment, the future will be with the ecosystem-dominant.

Methodology

For this analysis, we defined ecosystem exclusivity, dominance, and non-exclusivity as follows:

  • Exclusivity – all of the user’s connected devices, items, services, and voice assistants are in the same operating system family
  • Dominant – more of the user’s devices, items, services, and voice assistants use one ecosystem more than others
  • Non-Exclusive – none of the ecosystems is used more than any others

We drew on the TUP data to identify a broad range of offerings within Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon ecosystems.

  • Connected devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs, or game consoles, using Apple iOS, MacOS, Google ChromeOS, Google Android, Google-branded, or Microsoft Windows
  • Services – Music/Video (Apple Music, Prime Video (in Amazon Prime), Prime Music (in Amazon Prime), Amazon Music Unlimited, Google Play Music)
  • Items – TV set-top boxes (Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google TV/Android TV, Google Nexus Player, Google ChromeCast), speakers (Amazon Echo, Amazon Spot or Dot, Amazon Show, Google Home, Google Max or Mini, Apple HomePod), Game Consoles (Microsoft Xbox One X, Microsoft Xbox One, Microsoft Xbox 360, Microsoft Xbox, Microsoft Other), smartwatches (Apple Watch, Android Watch)
  • Voice assistants – active use of a voice assistant (Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana) through a connected device

The segmentation approach was a simple categorization based on the accumulation of the above attributes. Each device, service, item or voice assistant was given an equal weight.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the most-recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults. This specific wave spanned the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. In the TUP survey, we identified the connected devices being actively used, from those acquired with home/personal funds to those that are owned by employers, schools, or others. From these, we selected adults who are using at least one home PC.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Game Consoles, Households, Market Research, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smart speakers, Smartphones, Smartwatches, Tablets, TUP 2018, TUPdate

Streaming Subscriptions – the Age Cliff for Music (TUPdate)

Streaming subscriptions are popular, with 69% of online adults actively using at least one type of free or paid digital media subscription. Penetration is highest among younger than older American adults. Nearly nine in ten online adults in the US aged 18-34 use a digital media subscription. This is based on results from the 2018 wave of MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, based on 7,886 respondents in the US, and 12,680 respondents across the US, UK, Germany, and India.

The majority of subscribers have a paid subscription – 85% of all online adults. Only a small percentage of users limit themselves to only free subscriptions, and that’s true across all age groups.

Paid streaming music has a lower overall penetration at 28% of online adults. There is a usage cliff after age 44, with penetration being much stronger among younger than older adults. Less than one in five adults age 45 to 54 use a paid media music subscription, and that rate is even lower among the age 55-64 (12%), and 65 or older (8% of online males and 6% of online females).

For streaming video, NetFlix is the long-established leader with the highest penetration. While adoption of the 1-screen plan is stronger than the 2-screen or 4-screen plan in the US and India, in the UK and Germany each plan has comparable use. Amazon’s Prime Video offering, although relatively more recent, has reached half the share of NetFlix in the US and UK, two-thirds in India, and near-parity in Germany.

Family plans have gained widespread use. Nearly half of US online household with 4 or more persons are actively using a paid family streaming plan from one of the major services: NetFlix, Apple, Spotify, or Deezer.

Comparing over-the-top (OTT) digital media subscriptions to traditional TV subscriptions, in the US, UK, and India, active OTT use surpasses the use of cable, satellite, or phone cable TV subscriptions. DVD rental, while diminished, is still a regular practice among nearly a fifth of online Americans, and 10% of online adults in India.

Looking ahead

When it comes to fun, art, and entertainment, there’s room for many outlets. Although many creators work hard to exclusively own, control and entice viewers and listeners, consumers are free to change their minds and they often do.

Consequently, I expect the majority of consumers to continue expanding their subscriptions, both in the number they use and the range of type of media they subscribe to. However, as content providers continue to jockey for position, joining and then leaving various services, consumers will continue to churn between services. Similarly, as existing providers continue to experiment with varied packages – from family and student to single and multi-screen – consumers will join in the experiments, with many switching and swapping between services. In other words, for years to come I expect two opposing forces. Consumers will pay for more than they use, primarily for the convenience of enjoyment when they want it. Also, consumers will continue with their subscriptions through inertia and confusion, without remembering which content is enabled through which subscription.

Although subscription fatigue may be growing in awareness, habit consumption will prevail over a reasoned review of subscriptions.

About this TUPdate
The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the most-recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults. This specific wave spanned the US, UK, Germany, India, and China.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Entertainment, TUP 2018, TUPdate