According to our fellow consumers, we’re more productive. Ask any mother, and she’ll tell you we’re addicted. Listen to a doctor, and you’ll think we’re creating clinical problems. The consequences are up for debate, but the fact of the matter is clear: US online adults get things done by switching from one screen to another.
Today, the majority of the US population uses three or more connected devices; we don’t only live among screens – we live by them. We complete tasks by gliding from one screen to another without a second thought. In fact, over half of US online consumers often carry out a single activity across multiple devices, and one-fifth admits they always do this.
While consumers commonly start certain tasks on their smartphone and complete them on a desktop, they also move from desktops to portable devices. The devices consumers use and the frequency with which they move between screens vary by activity. A blend of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data and passive behavioral tracking shows that retail behaviors are most fragmented across devices, followed by media consumption activities:
But device-switching behavior doesn’t stop there. Consumers frequently flit between screens to complete social networking, finance, travel, communication, and work-related activities.
What is the outcome of this behavior? Most importantly, consumers have higher demands of the brands they engage with: They want continuous, frictionless experiences, but their expectations are rarely met. Instead, customers are frustrated – they see navigating across screens as a requirement rather than a benefit, and they want one device that efficiently and completely meets their needs.
My recent report shows that consumers highly value cloud storage and app-synching services that enable seamless transitions, but their additional latent consumer needs are still unmet. Brands must build a comprehensive view of the cross-device experience and respond to consumer preferences and expectations urgently. As the device landscape continues to evolve, emerging technologies will make multiscreen navigation more complex; in this screen-saturated environment, the brands that get ahead of their customers will come out on top.