While an impressive three in five (57 percent) US consumers now own a tablet, new research from Mintel highlights an insatiable appetite for the very latest in new technology, as half (49 percent) of US adults planned to purchase a tablet in the last four months of 2015, leading up to the holiday months.

According to Mintel research, one third (32 percent) of all US consumers said they planned to buy a tablet for their own personal use by the end of the year. Meanwhile, 18 percent of consumers said they planned to buy a tablet as a gift purchase over the same four month period.

With the holiday season upon us, the importance of gifts sales is clear, especially among Hispanics (25 percent), Asians (27 percent), and young men aged 18-34 (31 percent), with intent to gift a tablet increasing to one in four. What’s more, one in ten (12 percent) tablet owners say they acquired their most recent tablet as a gift, rising to 15 percent of women.

One in ten tablet owners acquired their most recent tablet as a gift

Overall, young men show the greatest love for these devices with an overwhelming 80 percent of young men aged 18-34 planning to buy a tablet by the end of 2015.

“When intent to gift a tablet and intent to buy a tablet for personal use are combined, nearly half of all Americans are planning to purchase a tablet by the end of the year. While all of these purchases may not occur in the time frame specified, the data indicates the continuing need for a mass-market approach to ad buys,” said Billy Hulkower, Senior Technology Analyst at Mintel. “As the tablet market becomes more mature and penetration grows ever higher, sales of sub $200 tablets will become increasingly reliant on gift purchasers.”

Despite the high purchase intent for tablets, with over three quarters (78 percent) of  adults owning a smartphone, the larger screens of recently launched smartphones are encouraging US consumers to shift their digital lives away from PCs to their phones, rather than to their tablets.

Highlighting the fierce competition that tablets face from smartphones, a wide range of digital activities have also transitioned to smartphones. Activities such as listening to streaming music (37 percent phone vs 17 percent tablet), playing games (37 percent phone vs 19 percent tablet), sharing photos (49 percent phone vs 17 percent tablet), and audio and video chatting (27 percent phone vs 13 percent tablet), are now more common on phones than on either PCs or tablets.

“While smartphone penetration is headed toward  universality, peak penetration for tablets is more limited. By 2019, the vast majority of  all sales will be upgrades. In response to this concern, manufacturers are focusing the future of consumer hardware divisions on larger-screen ‘pro’ products or ‘two-in-ones’ positioned as replacements for laptops,” continued Hulkower.

36% of consumers upgrading their tablets agree that a bigger screen is a top reason for their intended purchase

Mintel research highlights tablets with bigger screens as a future market growth area. Acquisition of a larger screen tablet is a primary reason for upgrading: 36 percent of those upgrading their tablet agree that a bigger screen is a top reason for their intended purchase, second only to speed (38 percent). Bigger screens present opportunity areas for brands to engage with the aging Boomer generation, as 31 percent of consumers 55+ who already own a tablet cited a bigger screen as a reason they are planning to purchase a new device this year.

Beyond tablets with larger screens, “two-in-one” hybrid products that perform well both as a laptop or a tablet are widely seen as an opportunity. This is clear in terms of ownership, with two-in-one product ownership extremely limited at this juncture, just 5 percent of US consumers own a hybrid electronic device. However, ownership increases with income, as 8 percent of those earning in excess of $100,000 own one of these devices.

“Every fall, tablet marketers struggle to convince consumers that the newest lines of tablets are worthy of an upgrade purchase in time for the holiday season. If messaging focuses solely on speed, price point and screen size, current owners may increasingly decide that their existing tablet suits their needs. Going forward, brands will need to focus more on how a new tablet can have an impact on creativity, productivity, and in keeping kids entertained, educated and content,” concludes Hulkower.

Press copies of the Tablets US 2015 report and interviews with Billy Hulkower, Senior Technology Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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