The rise of the 4 screen household: Tablet sharing creates new channel for media and retail


Nearly one-quarter of the GB population (23%) has access to four screens at home (TV, computer, smartphone and tablet) compared to only 11% six months ago, according to a new report.

The newly released data from Kantar Media’s syndicated study, futurePROOF, reveals that as the range of media devices in the home grows, consumers are selecting their device according to the occasion.

Tablets are often shared within the household. Seven in ten of those with access to a tablet said these devices are shared by two or more adults in the household and 79% of tablet users with children said their offspring also use them. This means the potential reach for advertisers and retailers on tablets is even greater than unit sales suggest. It also raises implications for targeting – brands should be aware that they may be reaching a very broad audience on tablets, which presents both challenges and opportunities.

Consumers use tablets more often at home than when out and about. Just 7% of those with a tablet at home say they use it out-of-home on a daily basis, compared with 49% who claim to use the device at home every day.

In contrast, smartphones are used when on the go. 53% of smartphone users claim to have used their device to search for information on a product or service whilst in-store, compared with only 26% of tablet users. Qualitative findings from futurePROOF explain that mobile phone users prefer to use their device for purchasing low cost digital content where it is more convenient to use a phone. Activities include buying music, train tickets and time-critical eBay bidding. Kantar Media’s futurePROOF study reveals both smartphones and tablets are popular for searching for information on products or services - 70% of users claim to have done this on either device. Tablet users are more likely to say they have purchased products on their device (55%) than smartphone users on their phones (41%).

Benefitting from their larger screen, demand for content such as catch-up TV is higher on tablets than smartphones. 26% of tablet users say they watched on demand TV programmes or films on their device in the month prior to fieldwork compared to only 8% of smartphone owners on their mobile phones. This is against a backdrop of recent figures from the BBC for March, where, for the first time, there were more requests for BBC iPlayer content via a tablet than a mobile (see note 1). Other activities that benefit from a larger screen, such as Skype, are also popular with tablet users: Skype is used by 16% of tablet users at least once a month compared with 10% of smartphone users. While consumers are turning to tablets for in-home entertainment and product browsing, they are using their smartphones when out and about.

Trevor Vagg, Director, Kantar Media Custom, comments “This all has very exciting implications for media owners and advertisers alike. With the proliferation of multi-screen households and the explosive growth in tablets at home, which has doubled from 16% of the GB population just six months ago to 32% today, the industry has the opportunity to reach and engage with audiences across multiple platforms. As consumers adapt their choice of device used to suit the occasion, the challenge (and opportunity) for media owners and advertisers will be to design engaging experiences and impactful advertising which responds to this.”


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