There's a key segment of the global online population that has an insatiable appetite for digital media -- they influence others: whether it be text, audio, video or gaming consumption. They are the recognized digital content taste-makers at the center of their social circle. They're often the first to adopt new digital gadgets.
Digital Omnivores -- those people who own media tablets, smartphones and notebook PCs -- continue to grow, driven by increased device adoption. According to the latest market study by Deloitte, 37 percent of U.S. consumers are now considered to fit the profile -- that's a 42 percent growth over the previous year.
This growth is primarily driven by continued tablet adoption (33 percent increase) and, to a lesser extent, smartphone ownership (18 percent increase). Moreover, women, who made up 35 percent of digital omnivores two years ago, now account for 45 percent of this group.
The Deloitte market study compares and contrasts generational preferences of more than 2,000 consumers, ages 14 and older in the U.S., revealing significant technology, media and telecommunications consumption trends, including attitudes and behavior toward advertising and social networks, mobile technologies, the Internet, and consumption preferences over various platforms.
"The continued rise of the digital omnivore is an indication that consumers, across generations, are hungry for content across devices, especially media and gaming content on mobile devices," said Gerald Belson, vice chairman at Deloitte and U.S. Media & Entertainment sector leader.
Omnivores are device agnostic. They have decoupled the notion that TV shows have to be watched on home TVs. This trend is particularly evident in trailing millennials (aged 14 to 24), who indicated they now spend more time watching television and movie content on non-traditional devices than on TV sets.
The Evolving Omnivore Consumption Models
The Deloitte survey revealed that U.S. consumer interest in streaming content has nearly doubled in the past year (from 17 percent in 2012 to 32 percent in 2013), with interest in digital formats outpacing demand for physical media.
Consumption of media is increasing, but U.S. consumers prefer to rent versus purchase movies and television programming by a ratio of 3:1 in 2013, compared to 2:1 in 2012. This trend is even more pronounced for the trailing millennials.
As new media devices become easily available and ownership increases, U.S. consumers continue to be more distracted while watching home TVs, with 86 percent multitasking, up from 72 percent in 2011.
Millennials are the most active multi-taskers, engaging in an average of four activities while watching TV. Gen-Xers and boomers are also multitasking more, with both generations engaging in more than one additional activity in 2013 while watching TV. However, 22 percent of multitasking activities are directly related to the programs that consumers are watching.
"This year's results indicate an economic shift in the content industry. Consumer preference for renting instead of buying is driving content distribution models toward a higher volume, lower revenue rental model," said Alma Derricks, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Coupled with the increase in multitasking and the fact that viability of second screen services remains unproven, consumers are driving a fundamental shift in industry practices. Even with so much fragmentation in the market, there's an enormous opportunity to capitalize on these behaviors and create offerings that engage consumers in new, meaningful ways.
As mobile device ownership grows, interactive video gaming is expanding beyond dedicated gaming consoles, with consumers spending nearly a quarter (23 percent) of their gaming time on smartphones and tablets. This trend is even more pronounced among younger generations, led by females who spend 26 percent of their time gaming on smartphones and tablets.
Consumers also continue to utilize the multi-functionality of gaming consoles, with 42 percent using their console to play physical discs, 32 percent to stream movie and TV content, and 26 percent using their console to watch online content.
The impact of social media on consumers' daily lives is profound, with more than half (54 percent) of U.S. consumers checking social networks daily, some as often as 10 times a day or more.
Social media's impact on consumers' buying decisions is also significant. Online reviews or recommendations from someone within an individual's social media circles are especially impactful, even when the reviewer has no relationship to the consumer.
Among U.S. consumers, the majority (68 percent) say that online reviews or recommendations from someone within their social media circles have a high or medium level of influence over buying decisions.
Online reviews by strangers are also gaining credibility with 60 percent of consumers reporting online reviews by someone they do not know having a high to medium influence over their buying decisions.
"Changes in how content is consumed across multiple devices accelerates as new technology is introduced," concludes Belson. "This trend will continue as more people gain access to new media devices and consumption platforms. It brings about new challenges and exciting opportunities for organizations in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) industries."