Mobile’s Role in a Consumer’s Media Day in the United States and in China: The Smartphone as an Extension of the Self and an Extension into the World

Groundbreaking Study from IAB & The Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China Provides Critical Insights for American Brands Seeking To Do Business in People’s Republic

With smartphone penetration still in the early stages in China, this new study indicates that the People’s Republic could become a “one screen nation,” outpacing the U.S. in consumers who use smartphones as their sole or primary media device. The study is the first of its kind, conducted jointly by IAB and the Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China (IIACC), the trade associations for digital media companies in the U.S. and China, respectively.

Mobile’s Role in a Consumer’s Media Day in the United States and in China: The Smartphone as an Extension of the Self and an Extension into the World compares consumer smartphone usage habits in two of the world’s most important markets. The research reveals that media consumption is more impacted by smartphone ownership in China. More than a quarter of Chinese smartphone owners report less TV watching and reduced print consumption as a result of owning a mobile connected device (28% and 27% respectively). In comparison to their U.S. counterparts, Chinese smartphone owners are 86 percent more likely to report less TV usage and 42 percent more likely to report less print usage.

In contrast to China smartphone owners’ concentrated focus on the small screen, U.S. smartphone owners are much more likely to consume other media with their mobile devices in hand. For example, while watching TV, smartphone users report participating in:

  • Internet communication (51% U.S. vs. 10% China)
  • Reading social media (38% U.S. vs. 9% China)
  • Conducting a local search (34% U.S. vs. 8% China)

The data shows similar disparities when it comes to reading print media.

The study also points to distinct attitudinal differences that can help marketers, agency professionals, and publishers to effectively tailor their strategies to reach consumers in both countries. Strikingly, the research illustrates Americans’ greater dependency on their smartphones as devices that they would “never leave home without” (69%). In comparison, merely 6 percent of their Chinese counterparts said the same. Approximately one-third (34%) of Americans said that their smartphone is the “first thing I reach for when I wake up,” as opposed to 7 percent of Chinese smartphone owners.

Chinese are also more apt to use their smartphones for web browsing than Americans (32% China vs. 21% U.S.). More than one fifth (23%) of Chinese respondents said that they spent 3 hours or more per day in the last week accessing the internet with their smartphones. The top reason they cited for turning to their smartphones was “entertainment.”

Download the complete study