Research: Who’s Buying What Tech around the Globe This Holiday Season

We have some research that gives us insight into what tech products are on the interest horizon for purchase over the next six months. While intent to purchase surveys don’t always lead to purchases, it does give us an indication of what products are top of mind and more importantly how that may differ from each region across the globe. This research comes from surveys across 32 different regions and over 30,000 people in total. With as much data as I have, I struggled with the best way to display it. Since percentages did not equal 100% and were also based on sample size from each region making the percentages vary, I decided to weight the values numerically by priority. 12 is the highest priority / interest to purchase over the next 6 months and one is the lowest.

Here is the chart from a global standpoint with all 32 regions included.

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As you can see, globally tablets, smartphones, and a PC (laptop) have the highest interest level/priority to purchase over the next six months. While mobile phone numbers shouldn’t be surprising, it is interesting that, in all regions, the tablet still remains the highest priority with the PC (laptop) third. As I look at what we see happening in the market, my gut tells me there is still a large number of global consumers struggling with whether to get a laptop or a tablet. I’ve been saying for some time that, when the consumer market moves and finally upgrades their PC, we will see how the tablet and PC conundrum plays out. Still, looking at the data, one has to believe companies like Microsoft and Intel look at this and believe the 2-1 value proposition is strong if a buyer is struggling between both products.

To look at the data more granularly, I’ve broken it out by some of the larger regions by population. The sample sizes were also quite a bit larger in these regions giving us better detail of who intends to buy what.

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As you see, most regions are prioritizing the tablet from a purchase intention standpoint. A few markets like China and the US are prioritizing mobile, thanks to these two regions being extremely seasonal with mobile purchases. When it comes to the PC, it still ranks high, but only Brazil consumers have it as their top priority over the next six months. What is interesting to me is other categories on this list which can also be served by a tablet should the consumer desire. Take the e-reader for example. While lower on the priority list, a tablet can also be an e-reader. Perhaps, as a consumer gets savvy to this, it sways their decision more toward a tablet or a 2-1 rather than a desktop or clamshell? The tablet or 2-1 could also conceivably fill the role of a game console or even a DVD player where access to digital movies exists. What this highlights is my point about the tablet as a much more diverse device due to its form factor than previous heavy computing devices like notebooks and desktops. The tablet form factor can simply “morph” into so many things thanks to the software and services. As consumers become more knowledgeable, I believe the value of the tablet increases.

One point that stands out and is worth highlighting is India’s intent to buy a mobile phone. Look at the data point and you would think buying a mobile is simply not a high priority for Indian consumers. When in reality it is the highest priority among the masses from a tech purchase standpoint. Keep in mind, to take this survey, you have to be online already in some capacity with a smartphone, PC, or tablet. The online population in India is still very small in contrast to India’s population (somewhere over 200m people are actively online). So people who are answering these questions from every region are already online in some way, shape or form. Google’s head of India estimated 5 million new Indian consumers are coming online every month. Most of those are coming from mobile devices. For the unconnected, the mobile phone is the highest purchase priority since it is most people’s first computer. Looking at the data, we are focusing a bit more on what the purchase intent of the already connected is for the next few months.

Where that reality stands out is when we look at what tech was purchased over the past six months. This is a question I like because it brings a bit more clarity to the picture since consumers are stating what they have actually purchased rather than what they intend to purchase. Similar to the above chart, I weighted the percentages numerically. The most purchased product over the past six months is a 12 while the least purchased product is a one.

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Here we see the clarity of the mobile priority. As expected the mobile phone has dominated purchases over the past six months. We also see the strength of the notebook and desktop rebound we are seeing as it shows up in this data. The desktop in particular was a frequently purchased product globally over the past six months. We had a hunch early last year the PC would do well this year and we were right. Partly based on similar intent to purchase data we got this time last year. In fact, the above chart showing who purchased what was very similar to the same intent to purchase data from a Q3 2013 survey.

We know about the centrality of mobile, but what intrigues me about this data is the continued interplay between tablets and PCs. As a part of my overall industry analysis of both categories, this remains a story line and one that does not have as crystal clear of an ending as other categories. I get this data every few quarters so we will check back early in 2015 and see how the story is playing out. My guess is that Mobile is still high, but where PCs and tablets fall is the key question.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

4 thoughts on “Research: Who’s Buying What Tech around the Globe This Holiday Season”

  1. Tablet seems to have a much wider age demographics appeal than smartphone. I know many parents who are OK with their young (<10-14) kids using/having a tablet but not a phone, and many grandparents who are happy to get rid of Windows for browsing/emailing/skyping/Solitaire but can barely handle a dumbphone, forget about a smartphone (sight, touch, complexity issues).

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