The next big thing

Who are tablet owners in the U.K. and the U.S.?

Over the past few weeks, there has been a flood of information about tablet users in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Using these recent studies, let’s take a deeper look into the data.

Tablet users in the United States

The Pew Center’s “State of the Media 2012” report has shed new light on the demographics of American tablet owners. Compared with the general population, tablet owners are more likely to be college graduates and employed full-time. They are also almost twice as likely to have a household income of over $75,000 compared with other U.S. adults. In addition, tablet owners skew slightly male, with men making up 56% of total users. Surprisingly, the largest chunk of tablet users are aged 30-49, dispelling the myth that digital technologies are just for the very young. 

These findings back up some earlier data from GfK MRI, a leading consumer research firm, which found that GenXers are more likely than the younger Millennial generation to own a tablet.  

Gfk MRI’s figures also confirm the male tilt of tablet ownership. However, the study does point out that more women own e-readers than men own tablets. It seems that American women aren’t averse to new technologies. They merely favor e-readers over tablets.

GfK MRI’s results further validate what the Lean Back 2.0 blog has previously stated: people use their tablets differently than other digital devices. As GfK MRI points out, “digital magazines seem to be sparking new reading behavior among consumers. For instance, almost one-fifth of tablet owners who read a magazine on their device in the last 30 days also took the opportunity to read back issues of a title during their reading session.” Moreover, almost three-quarters of tablet owners say they are interested in reading magazines on their devices.

Tablet users in Britain

In the recently released Digital Britain report, Dare, a creative agency based in the United Kingdom, pulled together research from hundreds of sources to “paint a picture of media and technology consumption and how it might develop in the future”. The results of this aggregate study confirm much of what we’ve learned about American tablet owners.

Like their brethren in the U.S., tablet owners in the U.K. tend to be male. 7% of U.K. males own a tablet, while only 5% of women do. In contrast to Americans, however, tablet owners in Britain are younger. The majority are 25 to 34-year-olds, followed closely by 18 to 24-year-olds. Moreover, the largest percentage of tablet owners lives in inner and greater London, showing that tablet owners are a decidedly urban breed.

In a positive development for digital publishing, Digital Britain discovered that tablet owners enjoy ads more than non-tablet owners. In fact, 46% of iPad users surveyed said they take pleasure in interactive ads versus 27% of those using other devices. iPad owners are also more likely to click on simple text ads and to spend money on these ads.

Some questions

This deluge of data about tablet users leads to some interesting questions.   

What’s happening beyond the U.K. and the U.S.? Morgan Stanley Research found that demand for tablets is even stronger internationally than in the United States. For example, 41% of those interviewed in China reported “extreme interest in purchasing a tablet over the next 12 months.” Will the demographics of tablet owners in countries like China reflect what we’re seeing in the U.S. and the U.K.?

– Will there be a “democratization” of tablet ownership? Tablet owners in the U.S. and the U.K. tend to be male and relatively affluent. But studies also show that tablet demand is quite high. As more consumers purchase the tablet, how will the demographics shift and how will this transform tablet use? 

– When will tablet ownership plateau? There is still a lot of room for growth in the tablet industry. A recent Forrester report found that by 2016, almost 1/3 of American adults will own a tablet. When will this demand level off and at what percentage?

If you have insights into these unanswered questions or have more questions, please do comment in the space below.