Retail sales perked up this month, allowing for tentative hope that maybe, just maybe, this long recession is at an end. Not surprisingly, electronic sales led the way, which jumped for the first time in two years.
Expect sales of TVs of various capabilities, e-readers, smartphones and, especially, tablets to explode. Twenty-six million consumers are tablet users, 40% of them women. However, Gartner Research estimates that over 63 million tablets will be sold in 2011, and my bet is that the percent of female tablet users will climb.
This doesn’t even count sales of the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook, priced at a ridiculously accessible $200 or so. These “mini tablets” are projected to sell. (Amazon expects sales of the Fire to exceed 5 million by the end of this year, and that projection is based solely on preorders.) What iPad started has morphed into a tool that may break existing product adoption records and change the way we do so many ordinary tasks.
So, how will moms use tablets? Well, over half of all tablet purchases have been made by households with children under 18, according to Forrester Research. And that doesn’t include e-readers, where women already dominate – 63% versus 37% of men own e-readers. With the new under-$100 price for e-readers, my neighbor just bought three – one for herself and one each for her two elementary kids. So, at least anecdotally, we know reading will be a hot usage.
Tablets will surely eat into the e-reader market with their vastly increased functionality. Who can resist a movie or game break in the middle of plowing through a required reading? Shopping, too, is popular on tablets, though frustrating at times as apps catch up. Close to 80% of tablet users have made a purchase on their device.
It’s interesting to note, though, that tablets are now much more of an at-home device than a travel device, much more often used in the living room or family room than on the road. As such, this opens up a lot of opportunity for uses – watching movies, playing games, reading.
My projection is for much more increased use of tablets throughout the house in ways we may not have considered. The increased interest in cooking and the obvious superiority of a device that shows you videos and animations, in addition to recipes, almost guarantees tablets will find a home in the kitchen. Plus, talking to your kids and actually seeing what they are doing is such a plus when cooking and wondering why they are late for dinner.
Tablets make attending online classes much more convenient. Close to a third of all post-secondary school students have taken an online class, and that could explode as more tablet apps are developed and students can drop their access device in a purse or coat pocket. University of Phoenix, the country’s largest online university, already offers both iPad and Android apps. The list goes on, from the ever popular, entertaining young children to a dinner time device to end arguments over where exactly Timbuktu is.
As moms become more engaged with tablets, we need to shift resources and quickly to engage them.