The authors of this AdAge piece start with the wrong premise — that people are buying more media gadgets to make their lives ‘easier’, whatever that is supposed to mean — and then they wind up scratching their heads when it turns out to not be the case.
Bob Shullman and Stephen Kraus, Affluency: E-readers, Tablets Prove Taxing for Affluent | Ad Age Stat - Advertising Age
When we asked Affluents in January 2011 how their lives had changed in the previous decade, the top answer — selected by 79% — was that they’d become “technology-infused.” And it is easy to see why. Consider that:
- Fully 98% of Affluents are online, averaging over 25 hours of internet use a week.
- Affluents own an average of 3.5 TVs, and three-fourths have at least one high-definition TV.
- Two-thirds have a digital video recorder, of which 58% report always or frequently fast-forwarding through commercials.
The list of touchpoints we measure — the potential places where the Affluents may consume media and be exposed to advertising — has now risen to 38.
The most dramatic changes have been seen in the adoption of “new” media platforms. Smartphones barely qualify as “new media” any more, having gone decidedly mainstream — 52% of the Affluents own them, rising to 92% if we broaden the scope to those with any kind of wireless or cellular phone.
The newest of the new — tablets and e-readers — are seeing explosive growth among the Affluents (who, of course, are not only enthusiastic about media and technology, but also have the discretionary income to buy such devices). Our monthly Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer survey shows that e-reader ownership doubled between September 2010 and April 2011 from 12% to 23%. Tablet growth has been just as dramatic, and it is poised to continue. Consider that 14% of Affluents now have a tablet, and an additional 15% plan to buy one in the next 12 months. Put another way, nearly one-third of the Affluents may own tablets within the next 12 months.
But technology, seemingly like everything else from the last decade, is viewed by the Affluents as something of a mixed blessing. When we asked how their lives had changed over the past decade, “infused with technology” was the most widely cited answer. But equally telling are the phrases coming next on the list — “more complicated,” “more stressful” and “focused on finding ways to do more with less.” In contrast, fewer than half said their lives had become “more fun” or “easier.”
Ok, start with a different premise, and everything makes sense. The world is complex and getting more so. People believe that they benefit from floating in the liquid media stream exactly where the flow is fastest. This requires more devices — to remain connected in more contexts, like in the train or in line at the Starbucks — and more time spent scanning and connecting.
Therefore, people wind up investing more time to liquid media, but not because it’s fun: it is a requirement of being connected in a connected world.