‘Smart fever’ is spreading fast, and as our latest figures show, it has no intention of slowing down. This tells us more about today’s consumers than we may think, offering us valuable insights into their online behaviors and, essentially, their mindsets. Taking a closer look at our latest statistics, here are our key takeaways.

1. Smartphones are absolutely central to online behaviors.

94% of internet users now own a smartphone. This means ownership is now virtually universal.

Considered the most important device of digital consumers, they’re now capturing over three hours of online time each day. 

Whether on their daily commute or in front of the TV, smartphone users are commonly in ‘browsing’ mode when online on these devices.

This means it’s more important than ever for marketers to continue innovating on their mobile strategy to stand out from the crowd, implementing a mobile-first strategy across the board.

2. Consumers have an average of three devices.

Today’s consumers are multi-device owners. They don’t just choose one over another – instead, they have an average of three different devices.

While smartphones take the lead, others are proving preferable among consumers for different purposes. Tablets, for example, have seen a huge decline in usage over the past couple of years, but are still being used for at-home entertainment when a mobile screen won’t suffice.   

This means marketers need to consider the consumer journey a little more carefully.

In today’s micro-moments era, it’s important to ensure you’re reaching consumers at the moments that matter, with creatives that work for the right devices.

3. PCs and laptops aren’t being abandoned.

Despite the growing importance of the smartphone, PCs and laptops haven’t gone out of fashion.

Three-quarters say they own one and internet users are spending longer online on these devices (over 4 hours a day) than they are on their mobiles.

They remain especially important for research-related behaviors like using search engines and visiting retail sites. 

This means that while a mobile-first approach is needed, mobile-only is the wrong route to take. A good marketing strategy or media plan will consider each of these devices and the purposes they’re used for, to reach consumers at every stage of the purchase journey.

4. Consumers care about their privacy.

Every month, almost half of internet users delete cookies, causing serious problems for brands that rely on cookie-based data to customize their platforms and drive marketing campaigns targeted in this way.

There’s also a quarter who use Virtual Private Networks, allowing people to connect to the internet via a remotely-located server.

This use of VPNs means many consumers are going under the radar or are being incorrectly geo-located by web analytics; some visitors recorded as coming from established markets like the U.S., for example, could actually represent users in fast-growth markets.

This, along with the 36% who are blocking ads each month, tells us that marketers need to think more carefully about the tactics they deploy and the methods they use, as privacy is a clear concern to today’s consumers.

5. Tablets will never contend with mobiles but they shouldn’t be forgotten.

They may have reached saturation point, but it’s still 40% of internet users who own a tablet.

It’s only for entertainment-related behaviors that tablets pose any sort of competition to mobiles, having evolved into more of an at-home entertainment device for watching TV content and second-screening.

For families, tablets have become multi-user entertainment tools, with parents proving to be particularly strong adopters.

Almost half of those with young children have a tablet vs. just over a third of those without.

What this tells us is that while tablets will never be a challenge to smartphones, they could offer something extra. More suited for watching TV and browsing the web while at home, they offer some clear advantages over mobile on-the-go devices.

For publishers in media and entertainment and those investing in their ad space targeting parents and older demographics, this offers a clear insight into the devices to prioritize, making the case that tablets are not to be forgotten.



Written by

Katie is a Strategic Insights Manager at GWI. Moving to the company 4 years ago, Katie heads up the Strategic Insights team, overseeing the production of bespoke assets for clients. Katie also writes on GWI's blog, with a particular interest in social media and marketing.

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