Consumers talking over a computer


Consumers in control: The digital democracy survey

Which trends are changing the game for marketers as consumers’ media consumption habits continue to shift?​

As marketers already know, the age of the empowered consumer is upon us. Individuals can choose what content they’ll consume, along with when, how, and where they’ll do it. This trend has been several years in the making, and as this year’s Digital Democracy Survey, 10th Edition indicates, it’s likely to continue.

The survey assessed the media consumption and device usage habits of more than 2,000 US consumers and brought a number of trends to light. Not surprising, consumers’ mobile and social media habits continue to evolve and represent an increasingly important part of their lives. For example, Millennials aged 19-32 rely more on recommendations from their social media circle and online reviews to influence their purchase behavior than on TV advertising. Social media ads, video game ads, and celebrity/online personality endorsements also heavily influence Millennials, with more than 50 percent of respondents aged 14-32 ranking social media ads as having a high or medium influence over their buying decisions.

Most frequently used apps: Social media and weather

Social media remains the top mobile app category, with 59 percent of respondents using social apps frequently on their smartphones and 40 percent using the apps frequently on their tablets. After social media, consumers use weather apps most frequently, with 52 percent of respondents indicating use on smartphones and 25 percent on tablets. Consumer interest in mobile payment apps is on the rise, especially among Millennials. Of 19-25-year-olds, 33 percent are using such apps daily or weekly on smartphones—just as frequently as photo and video apps and far more frequently than fitness and health apps.

Streaming, bingeing, and multitasking listed as top activities

Consumers’ TV and video-viewing habits also continue to shift, with the younger demographic leading the charge. Millennials aged 14-32 spend almost 50 percent of their time watching movies and TV shows on devices other than a TV—primarily laptops or desktops, followed by smartphones and tablets.

Meanwhile, streaming video services continue to grow in popularity, with nearly half of US consumers now subscribing to one. Of those subscribers, 61 percent value their streaming video service among their top three subscription services. Respondents indicated they like their streaming service because it allows them to watch content whenever they want and without commercials.

Binge-watching TV shows—watching three or more episodes of a TV series in one sitting—continues as a notable trend, with 70 percent of consumers, and more than 80 percent of Millennials, indicating they do it. Capturing the attention of TV viewers presumably is becoming more difficult, with 92 percent of consumers now indicating they multitask while watching. Millennials, on average, are doing four—yes, four—additional activities while viewing.

What’s the takeaway for marketers? As media consumption habits continue to evolve CMOs should devise digital strategies to engage consumers where they are. More than ever before, it’s critical to connect in the right place at the right time in order to break through to your target audience.

Published on  April 25, 2016.

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