Generational Differences in Consumers’ Screen Preferences

February 9, 2015

MillwardBrownDigital-Yesterday-Device-Use-by-Generation-Feb2015Generational divides exist in consumers’ screen preferences, finds Millward Brown Digital in recent survey results [download page] demonstrating that Baby Boomers (51-69) are sticking with laptops and PCs over smartphones and tablets, while Millennials (18-34) tend to be more smartphone-centric, particularly for activities such as checking sports scores or the weather.

It’s worth noting that Boomers’ general preference for the laptop/PC comes despite the survey being fielded exclusively among respondents who own or have access to a smartphone or tablet.

Interestingly, while Millennials tend to focus more on their smartphones, there are some mitigating results:

  • On the path-to-purchase, these mobile device-toting youth still pick up the laptop or PC first when shopping for financial services, consumer electronics and CPG; and
  • Millennials are as likely to have used a TV yesterday as a smartphone (77% each), a fairly surprising result that recalls research from last year showing that Millennials still spend more time with the TV than with any other device.

Even so, older generations are far more apt to have used a TV yesterday than a digital device, according to the Millward Brown survey results. Among Gen Xers (35-50), 86% had used a TV yesterday compared to 67% a laptop/PC and 60% a smartphone. And among Baby Boomers, 91% had watched TV, whereas 71% had used a laptop/PC and 42% a smartphone.

Those generational differences extend to entertainment sources: while Millennials are more likely to watch YouTube (72%) than cable TV (53%) on a weekly basis, the opposite is true for Boomers (65% cable TV; 43% YouTube).

Other Findings:

  • While 81% of respondents prefer smartphones to tablets or laptops and PCs for tasks that take up to 5 minutes to complete, that figure drops to 43% for tasks that take 10-20 minutes. For tasks that take longer than that, laptops and PCs are the preferred digital device.
  • The most important factor for Millennials and Boomers in determining which screen to use for an activity is its size. For Gen Xers, the most important factor is its speed and performance.

For data concerning the audience demographics of various online and offline major media – including TV, magazines, newspapers and social networks – see the MarketingCharts Debrief, US Media Audience Demographics.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,018 respondents age 18-69 in the US who own or have access to a smartphone or tablet. The digital survey was conducted via mobile or desktop devices in October 2014.


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