Smartphones may be growing in popularity, but the computer is still the primary device when it comes to researching and buying products online.
According to a Harris Poll of more than 2,300 adults conducted in mid-November, an overwhelming majority of smartphone owners favored using a laptop or desktop for researching goods or services (81%, or the third-most reported activity, compared with 45% -- or the eighth-most popular activity -- for smartphones). A similar disparity arose when it came to purchasing products or services (78%/4th, compared with 23%/12th.) Smartphones, meanwhile, are the preferred devices for immediate communication such as texting or instant messaging and mapping/navigation services.
“[Computers and smartphones] are still definitely used differently,” Regina Corso, a senior vice president with Harris Polling, tells Marketing Daily. “This is the first time we’ve asked this question. It does seem like there is a narrowing in that, in the not-so-distant future, we’re going to see smartphone usage outpace laptop and desktop usage in certain areas.”
Already the two types of devices are approaching parity in certain areas such as social media, where they were both used with about the same frequency. Email, meanwhile, continues to be a highly utilized feature on smartphones, though users more often use their devices to read e-mails, rather than composing or responding to them. Understanding the different ways consumers use their devices is a key component in crafting marketing messages, Corso says.
“Don’t worry so much about sending the text because the end-user is not there,” Corso advises. “They’re still using their computer to do the shopping and the researching. That’s going to be a longer switch.”
The survey -- the first of its kind for Harris Interactive -- did not account for tablet usage, because the devices had not yet achieved a full enough penetration for measurement, Corso says. She expects future surveys, which will likely include tablet findings, to show even deeper usage results.
“That’s definitely going to change results,” she says. “We’re going to see more people using tablets. They’ll take that out for certain things that they may use a laptop for.”