Consumers' Digital Spend Increasing in the US

David Murphy

The spending gap between digital and offline content is narrowing among US consumers, according to new research published by Bango. In particular, amongst mobile aware Americans, the amount spent on digital music and eBooks bought from mobile phones is now close to the monthly spend on equivalent physical goods - CDs and paperbacks.

The Bango Omnibus Survey was conducted in January 2011 among 1,068 respondents, representative of all US population demographics. The sample included respondents who own a mobile phone (91.57 per cent), of whom 56.74 per cent said they have access to the internet from the phone. Women are as likely as men to own a phone with internet access, with the gender split being 28.65 per cent men and 28.09 per cent women.

Respondents were asked how much they spend on each product category in a typical month. Across the group of people who spend money on mobile content, music and eBook  downloads are the top entertainment categories for mobile content spend. Men’s and women’s spending habits are similar for both music and eBooks downloads, which highlights that there are no gender differences when it comes to mobile content spend.

US consumers who spend money on music downloads, spend on average $13.31 (£8.32) monthly, compared with $17.94 on physical CDs. Men spend on average $13.90 a month on music, while women spend slightly less, $12.50. Spending habits of those who buy music downloads in the different US regions are very similar. In the Northeast of the US, the average monthly spend is $15.19. Those in the Midwest spend on average $13.72 monthly, while those in the South and West of the country spend on average $12.49 and $12.88 monthly respectively.

In a typical month, US consumers who buy eBooks on their mobile phones spend an average of $15.34 on eBooks, compared with $20.23 on paperbacks. Spending habits for men and women are very similar. Women spend on average $15.80 a month on eBooks, while men spend $14.80. People in the Northeast of the US spend more on eBooks compared to the rest of the other regions, with an average monthly spend of $22.18. Those in the Midwest spend on average $10.21 monthly, while those in the South and West of the country spend on average $15.29 and $11.10 monthly respectively.

“Our survey findings show that the spending habits of US consumers are changing as a result of the adoption of internet-enabled cell phones and smartphone devices,” said Anil Malhotra, SVP Marketing and Alliances at Bango. “Consumers who have a passion for content like music and books are spending comparable amounts for digital and physical products. This is why for brands, having an integrated offline and mobile strategy is now becoming more essential. To capitalize on these changing spending patterns, thinking of mobile as a separate marketing channel no longer makes sense.”

Of all the entertainment categories in the survey, video games and mobile games show the widest spending gap. The average spend for video games is $36.46 and $12.51 for mobile games. Bango believes this is due to the high price points for no-mobile titles.

You can download a datasheet with a summary of the Bango stats here.