One of the most interesting aspects of the analysis issued recently by Nielsen company NM Incite on the U.S. Digital Consumer (although the fact that 274 million Americans now have Internet access, up from 132 million in 2000 is pretty interesting) is the fact that a gender divide in digital usage seems to be emerging.
According to the report, men are predominantly tablet owners, while women are the majority of social network users and online video consumers. The sexes are evenly split when it comes to smartphone ownership.
Now the differences are marginal but statistically significant and seem to certainly indicate a gender bias for one platform over another. But why would that be? It can’t just be an issue of content availability – because that would not explain male preference for tablets or even ownership of phones. So is it something inherent in the very nature of the platforms themselves?
Famed media guru Marshall McLuhan noted that “the medium is the message.” That is, while content is important, what really matters, or in my estimation equally matters, is how the platform delivering such content shapes perceptions of the user. So what is the message inherent in this apparent gender divide?
Is it some type of “Men Are From Mars And Women Are From Venus” thing, or are genders self-identifying with platforms and in the process beginning to change them to better suit their needs? We all know that one size doesn’t fit all digital consumer expectations and emerging habits.
Given our TraDigital platform focus with multiple medium options for consumer coupon redemption at Entertainment.com (like online print and mobile, etc.), we are noticing how gender drives platform adoption and platform capability can drive divergent gender usage–or lack thereof.
This is not just an academic exercise. The answers contain a gold mine of innovation for those brands who want to anticipate the direction of digital and get there first.
A serial CEO and innovation speaker, Dean DeBiase is the Chairman and CEO of entertainment.com, co-founder of boardroominnovation.com and Innovation Excellence, and a co-author of The Big Moo.