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Smartphone Ownership among U.S. Millennial Moms Surpasses Laptop/PC Ownership

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released a report revealing the importance for brands to focus on mobile to reach the coveted demographic of millennial moms around the world.

Among the key findings, the study shows that millennial moms' ownership of smartphones in the U.S. outpaces ownership of laptop and desktop computers for the first time, and that they are spending 35 percent more time online via their smartphones than online via laptop or desktop computers.

In addition, millennial mom smartphone ownership is dramatically increasing across the globe:

  • U.S. - 90% own smartphones today, versus 65% in 2012
  • Brazil - 76% own smartphones today, versus 25% in 2012
  • Canada - 94% own smartphones today, versus 59% in 2012
  • China - 95% own smartphones today, versus 62% in 2012
  • U.K. - 93% own smartphones today, versus 73% in 2012

There are upticks in tablet ownership across all five countries as well, with the biggest gains being seen among those in China (50% today vs. 15% in 2012) and the U.K. (66% today vs.18% in 2012).

Year-over-year figures clearly show that U.S. millennial moms are spending more time with media overall due to mobile (8.9 hours daily today vs. 8.3 hours daily in 2013). Today, this group's time on mobile surpasses that of television (2.8 hours on mobile vs. 2.3 hours with TV). Mobile usage also eclipses television watching in Brazil, Canada and China with the U.K.'s mobile numbers approaching parity with TV.

U.S. millennial moms' time spent surfing the web on computers took a tumble from 2.1 hours in 2013 to 1.7 hours in 2014, Moreover, time spent on mobile beat time online on laptops/PCs within all five countries examined.

"Moms have traditionally been a primary target for a multitude of marketers, and now it's clear that the primary way to reach them is through mobile," said Anna Bager, Senior Vice President, Mobile and Video, IAB. "We are seeing smartphones as central to moms' media experiences around the world. And, with millennials making up the majority of new moms, brands and agencies need to think of this valuable demographic as tech-savvy and mobile-first, if they want to earn their interest and loyalty."

According to the report, motherhood triggers new priorities when it comes to purchase decisions, sparking a substantial brand shift moment in a wide range of categories. In the U.S., almost two-thirds (63%) of millennial moms say that their purchase criteria for groceries/food/beverage products have changed, with more than half (52%) feeling similarly when it comes to cleansers/detergent. However, a great many say the same when it comes to personal care/cosmetics (48%), financial services (42%), apparel/accessories/shoes (41%), and consumer electronics (35%). While these shifts in brand choices are not identical in every nation surveyed, there are significant changes in those other countries as well.

Findings highlight the importance of understanding how to tailor messaging and creative across borders. Millennial mothers in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, and the U.K. said that digital ads featuring deals, sales, or money saving offers trumped ads that were relevant to their own life stage or the age of their child in getting their attention. By contrast, their counterparts in China found both types of ads equally attention-getting. There were also sharp differences expressed when it came to imagery used in digital ads.

For example:

  • Three-quarters (76%) of moms in the U.S. said that visuals of a family together would be most likely to catch their eye in interactive marketing, while only 46% said the same in China.
  • 76% of moms in Brazil said that an image of a mom holding a baby in her arms would be more likely to get their notice, while only 64% of those in the U.K. felt similarly.

The research also took a look at millennial moms' perspectives on native advertising, showing that brand sponsorship of online content is unlikely to inspire trust in the content, especially in the U.S. and Canada. Still, more than half of all moms surveyed across all five countries said that if the sponsored articles and videos were high quality, the content would improve their perception of the brand. Those in Brazil were particularly likely to respond to well-produced and informative sponsored content, with 75 percent saying that it positively influenced their feelings about a brand.

"We've been examining technology and media trends among moms around the world for a long time now, and this research with IAB brings a great deal of BabyCenter's insights into clear focus," said Julie Michaelson, Vice President, Sales, BabyCenter. "Mom's dependence on mobile is evident, as is the fact that digital ads are at the forefront when it comes to capturing her attention while she's in the midst of discovering and embracing new brands. What's also certain, is that brands need to be mindful of those facts in their marketing strategies in order to win her over - and what works for millennial moms in one country might not work in another."

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