Tag Archives: Consumer behavior

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.

Leave a Comment

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

Watching the watches – smartwatches and fitness bands [TUPdate]

Smartwatch and fitness band penetration tapers to 2016 levels

The race for the wrist has settled into a larger-than-niche and less-than-majority position. Over the last three years, the share of online Americans using at least one smartwatch has grown from one in six to one in five, only to settle back to the one in six level. This is based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey of 8,060 online adults in the US, and from the prior three annual waves.

Worse yet for both fitness bands and smartwatches – it’s not as if each are cannibalizing the other. Use of either type of device is also down, dropping from a high of 33% in 2016 to 27% in 2019.
The market has tapered even while smartwatch makers continue to add capabilities well beyond timekeeping and step-counting. Also, it’s happening even as watch-wearers begin to actively use the new capabilities – broadening their use of smartwatches to more activities. Some of the top smartwatch activities include seeing who’s calling before taking a call through or on their smartwatch, recording their heart rates, checking current weather, or using their smartwatch in a store to check products or prices. Convenience is at hand.

Younger adults embrace wearables more than older Americans

Younger Americans have adopted Smart watches and other wearables more strongly than older Americans. Just over half of online Americans age 18 to 34 use at least one Bluetooth headset, smartwatch, or fitness band. In stark contrast, just less than one in five (19%) online Americans age 65 or higher use any of these wearables. Among this set, fitness bands have the highest penetration, on the wrists of one in nine (11%).
Hearables are an important category to track. In addition to sales by watchmakers, beneficiaries include digital media services (specifically music), cellular carriers, and the full ecosystem of e-wallet payments and retailers. Continue reading

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Filed under Fitness Trackers, Market Research, Personal and Productivity, Smartwatches, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Voice Assistant

Favorite Device Combinations – Less Juggling

The Favorite Collections
Users vote with their fingers, demonstrating what they like by what they use. The top combination includes two devices – a notebook and smartphone and no desktop or tablet – and is actively used by nearly one in seven (14%) online adults in the US.

This is based on the four most recent waves of TUP/Technology User Profile, the 2016 through 2019 waves. These were based on 7,336, 7,521, 7,886, and 8,060 US online adult representative responses, respectively.

The top five combinations are used by well over half (59%) of online Americans. All the top combinations include a smartphone, three include a desktop, three include a notebook, and two include a tablet. Four of these major combinations have remained the most widely used for the last four years. Continue reading

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Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Game-Playing Trends – Convenience Gamers, Dedicated Gamers, and Device-Gamers [TUPdate]

Overview

Playing games is a regular activity for most adults whether using game consoles or gaming PCs, or any of their connected devices – mobile phones, tablets, or PCs.

Convenience Gamers – those using only a connected device to play games – has near-equal market penetration to Dedicated Gamers – users of game consoles or gaming PCs.

Device-Gamers – who use any of their connected devices – is a larger segment than either Dedicated Gamers or Convenience Gamers.

This TUPdate looks at the major trends of game-playing in the US and other countries, focusing on Convenience Gamers – the next tier of game-players beyond Dedicated Gamers. Also, it examines which types of devices are used the most or least for playing games. Further, it investigates whether younger adults play more or less than older ones, and differences in digital media use and subscriptions.

About this TUPdate

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

Questions?

Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For example, clients may request similar results outside the US, or within your chosen market subset. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Entertainment, Game Consoles, Market Research, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, Trends, TUP 2019, TUPdate