Smartphones and tablets give rise to phenomenon of the ‘digital multi-tasker’

Consumers worldwide are embracing myriad new ways to consume digital media content, while appetite for media in its traditional forms seems as robust as ever. With smartphones and tablets becoming ever more popular across the globe and technology companies enabling a wealth of new content, consumers worldwide want more media experiences, on more devices which means consumers are becoming ‘digital multi-taskers’, a global KPMG survey claims.

KPMG’s Digital Debate Report surveyed more than 9,000 consumers across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America to understand how consumers are allocating their time and budgets to media in all forms.

The phenomenon of the ‘digital multi-tasker’ is most prevalent in China where 60% of consumers say they watch TV at the same time as accessing the internet. The British are also fans of multi-tasking according to the survey. 45% of UK consumers say they watch TV while accessing the internet at the same time, 39% watch TV while reading newspapers and 27% watch TV while also using social networking sites.

David Elms, KPMG UK Head of Media comments “In emerging, high-growth markets such as China, people are not encumbered with the legacy of PCs and have leap-frogged straight onto portable devices. This creates an amazing set of opportunities for tech and media companies many of which are struggling to devise models that are profitable and which truly sate consumers’ vast needs for information.”

Consumers in the emerging economies and particularly China are leading the way when it comes to adopting new technologies and forms of media. It is in these countries where a new class of ‘mobile-centric consumers’ is emerging: those whose entire online media experience is delivered via mobile devices and mobile networks.

According to the report, China boasts the highest rate of smartphone and tablet ownership, followed by Singapore. (78% of Chinese own a smartphone, 51% tablet; in Singapore 73% of consumers own a smartphone, 41% a tablet). Ownership rates for the North America and Europe are lower; in the UK for example 28% of consumers own a tablet and 57% a smartphone.

While China, Brazil and Singapore lead in their willingness to pay generally for online content, consumers in North America and Europe show a higher willingness to only pay for access to certain content, such as dating sites and books and less on news, music and games, for example. Chinese consumers are willing to pay for travel, photography and games.

David Elms comments “A number of content owners are trying to repeat the traditional revenue models online, aiming to reverse the trend of getting information for free. Consumers are only prepared to pay for content if it is perceived to have value, at the right price, in the right format and accessible on the right device.

“Consumers in developed markets have become used to receiving content for free, and many have yet to experience or understand the value that tailored, relevant content can bring to their media experiences. By understanding consumers’ on and offline media consumption, content providers can develop a business model that appeals to even the most skeptical consumer. They need to delve into understanding their content and their customers much more intimately and then, marry the two .“

The majority of Chinese also said they prefer to watch TV on their tablets (60%). In every other country a significant majority still prefers to watch TV on a traditional set. In the UK only 6% of consumers say they prefer watching TV on a tablet.

Consumers in the emerging economies are also more open to online advertising, 72% of Chinese and 56% of Brazilians for example say they are willing to receive advertising on their mobile devices in exchange for lower prices or free content and services. UK consumers on the other hand seem to be among the most averse when it comes to mobile advertising, only 24% say are willing to receive such adverts.

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