Press Release

February 06, 2015

Generations Divided on Device Preferences

New Study, "Getting Audiences Right," helps marketers engage the right generation on the right screen

Millward Brown Digital, the world's leading digital expert in helping clients grow great brands, today launched Getting Audiences Right, a study that highlights the differences in how generations use digital devices to perform daily activities, to consume content, and to shop online.

The study provides new insight into Millennials, who have become the "mobile-first" generation and are more smartphone-centric than older generations. Looking at variances in device use, 77% of Millennials use a smartphone daily; that figure drops to 60% for Gen X and 42% for Baby Boomers. Mobile use among Millennials comes at the expense of TV and laptops: 77% of Millennials watch TV daily, compared with 86% of Gen X and 91% of Baby Boomers. Similarly, 58% of Millennials use a laptop/PC daily, compared with 67% for Gen X and 71% for Baby Boomers. Tablet usage remains lower than other screens, with Gen X slightly leading the pack. Screen size and device speed and performance were cited as the key factors influencing screen usage.

"Millennials and Baby Boomers have adopted different screen habits," said Joline McGoldrick, Research Director at Millward Brown Digital. "Understanding these differences is critical for successful targeted marketing."

The study also shows that task length impacts screen preference: 81% of consumers across generations prefer to complete five minute tasks via smartphone. That number drops to 43% for tasks that take between 10-20 minutes – indicating even mobile Millennials prefer laptop/PC for many high-involvement tasks.

Millward Brown Digital identifies several key findings to help marketers get audiences right:

  • Daily Activity: Each generation shows different device preferences for daily activities.
  • Entertainment: Millennials spend more time consuming content on new media platforms such as Netflix and YouTube while Boomers are more TV-centric. Gen Xers continue to fall in between.
  • Shopping Behaviors: When it comes to shopping, screen preferences vary by industry.

"With such marked differences across generations, marketers need to ensure that their marketing investments match their audience's screen preference." says McGoldrick. "This investment has to be for the present and for the future. So while audiences are shifting to mobile, for now they still rely on laptops and PCs for many content and purchase activities."

The study, conducted online, surveyed more than 1,000 respondents in the U.S. who own or have access to a smartphone or tablet, and explores the digital and mobile habits of three generations: the Millennial Generation (adults 18 to 34); Generation X (adults 35 to 50), and the Boomer Generation (adults 51 to 69).

For more information on Getting Audiences Right and to download a copy of the study, visit

Millward Brown Digital will present the findings on the upcoming Getting Audiences Right webinar, February, 26, 2015 at 2 PM EDT. To register for the webinar, visit: