The study, conducted by mobile ad network Millennial Media, in particular focused on how millennial moms — defined here as women aged 18-34 with at least one child at home — use smartphones, tablets and PCs across four product categories: retail, consumer electronics, consumer goods, and automotive.
Millennial moms tend to have higher rates of device ownership than average, with 85% having a smartphone and 43% a tablet in the U.S. Most are also employed full-time (53%), married (69%) and have a household income over $50,000.
The findings also showed that across the four product areas examined, mobile plays a part in the path toward making a purchase. About a third of those surveyed in May, for instance, said smartphones played a role at the “inspiration” and research phases, with 21% making a purchase. For tablets, the corresponding figures were a bit lower, with about 25% getting ideas and doing research on the devices, and 18% purchasing.
More important than a particular screen, though, is the context each screen represents, according to Ansible CEO Angela Steele. “Location actually seems to provide more context for consumers, and more direction for advertisers than the screen itself,” she said. So the key is more where someone is using a device — home, work or in a store — for tailoring relevant messages.
She pointed out that Millennial Moms frequently turn to mobile phones while shopping to do things like take pictures of products (50%), text family or friends (39%) and send product photos to others (40%). “Combining mobile with the in-store experience is really the strongest use of mobile,” she said, making it incumbent on retailers and CPG companies to link their apps to real world shopping habits.
The research highlighted some difference in the amount of time spent per industry vertical across devices. Moms, for example, spent three-quarters of their time in the auto category on PCs compared to 10% on tablets and 15% on smartphones. By contrast, 73% of time spent on consumer electronics content was on smartphones versus 3% on tables and 24% on the desktop.
For retail and consumer goods content, half the time was spent on smartphones. Because buying a car is a high consideration purchase, Steele said it makes sense most usage would be on PCs because of the larger screen and wider availability of shopping tools geared to the desktop. But she added that Ansible sees growing mobile activity in practice.
“This is one area where the research doesn't necessarily match what we see for the specific [auto] client that we work on,” she said. The high engagement with consumer electronics content on smartphones, meanwhile, indicates that moms are more likely researching information while out shopping for electronics goods in a Best Buy or other store.
The data underlying the findings came not from Millennial Media, but comScore MobiLens and Mobile Metrix U.S. surveys for March 2014 and an online omnibus survey in May through Ipsos Media, with a sample of 535 mothers 18-34.