The Always On Consumer

According to a new study by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), email usage is on the rise, driven primarily by consumers’ shift to mobile. At the same time, email is less formal in a world that is moving toward texting and emojis, and in which smartphones are the preferred device for accessing email.

The Adobe Email Survey 2016, prepared and presented by Giselle Abramovich, senior & strategic editor,, surveyed over 1,000 white-collar Americans, finding that “time spent with email is up 17% year over year (YoY). Millennials, consumers ages 18 to 34, spend the most time with email of any age group and 90% rely primarily on their smartphones to do so. Almost 50% of Millennials admitted to checking their email while still in bed in the morning.” 

Ryan Dietzen, senior market analyst at ADI, says “…  the rise in email consumption has a lot to do with the fact that people are now relying on their smartphones more… Smartphones make email all the more accessible… Millennials, especially, can’t resist the smartphone screen telling them something has just come in from a colleague or a friend…” The survey found that smartphones have overtaken computers for checking email, says the report. People identifying smartphones as their primary device to check work email grew 21% YoY.

Abramovich  continues, noting that “the research found that workers spend an average of 7.4 hours per weekday on email. Just over four hours are spent checking work-related email and 3.3 hours checking personal email, indicating an ‘always-on’ email culture. That’s a 6% increase in the amount of time spent checking personal email and a 28% increase YoY in time spent checking work email.

And Dietzen says “… people are more and more engaged with email and are consistently turning to it throughout the day… that means marketers can consistently reach us via email. And consumers still clearly prefer to receive marketing offers via email…” According to the survey, 49% of respondents said they prefer email marketing communications, followed by direct mail (22%).

In addition, the study probed users about how their use of email is changing. 30% of respondents said they see a trend toward emails getting shorter

  • Millennials were most likely to see a trend toward brevity (38%).
  • 72% said they have used an emoji in a personal email
  • 24% said that response time of the recipient is getting shorter
  • 69% said that texting has had at least some impact on how they communicate via email

The study found that 69% of respondents said they have checked email while watching TV or a movie, and

  • 53% on vacation
  • 45% in the bathroom
  • 44% while on the phone
  • 17% admitted checking while driving

Dietzen concludes, “… they’re checking constantly… checking while they’re having face-to-face conversations… checking during meals… (they are) the “always-on consumer… there’s not going to be a time when they’re not reachable by email…”

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