Demographics of Kindle and Other eReader Users
I’ve done some preliminary internet research to examine the audience demographics of Kindle and other eReader users. This is a new space for the media, and lots of newspapers and other content providers are examining how exactly to “play” in this space. Here are some snippets of the research I have turned up:
Main Types of eReaders:
- Amazon Kindle
- Sony eReader
- Barnes & Noble nook
- Apple iPad, iPhone
- many many more
Familiarity with eReader Devices
Demographics of eReader Users
Mediamark says there are approximately 2.1 million US adults who own eReaders. The firm said that owners are “more likely than the average adult to be well-educated and have high incomes . . .They are also far more likely to be heavy Internet users.” This of course makes sense, given that these are largely luxuries or “frivilous” devices right now.
(More eReader demographic info available after the break…)
Percent More Likely Than Average U.S. Adult to….
- Have accessed the Internet outside the home via WiFi or wireless connection (in last 30 days): 199%
- Have household income of $100,000 or more annually: 87%
- Have accessed the Internet with a cell phone or other mobile device (in last 30 days): 154%
- Be a Heavy Internet User: 116%
- Have a Bachelor’s or Post-Graduate Degree: 111%
- Be between the ages of 35-54: 20%
- Be male: 16%
According to Mediamark, at 56.3% of e-reader users, men outnumber women (43.7%). Adults ages 35-54 are the “sweet spot” for this product, as they are 20% more likely than the average adult to own an e-reader.
These data from from MRI’s Fall 2009 Survey of the American Consumer, which is based on 26,000 interviews of US adults.
Demographics of Kindle (Brand Specific) Users
The resulting data suggests that the largest group of Kindle owners by decade are in their 50s. The next two largest are owners in their 40s at 19.1% and owners in their 60s at 18%, making the total number of Kindle owners between the ages of 40 and 69 an incredible 58.6%. Owners above 70 make up an additional 8.1%, with owners under the age of 40 accounting for just over a third of all Kindle sales.
There are plenty of factors that could skew these results, ranging from affluency and disposable income to the overall age of visitors who visit Amazon’s boards. But if these numbers are any indication, the Kindle appears to be the first general purpose technology device I know of with an early adopter demographic that favors the over-54 age bracket over the usual 18-34 group, effectively turning one perennial marketing trend on its head.
- Age/Sex: This survey found that 66% of respondents identified as female. As has been discussed a number of places, I too found that Kindle users skew older, with 69% over the age of 40.
- Education: This survey found that Kindle users tend to have significant higher education. 72% of respondents had at least a 4 year college degree. Compiling that 72% were those with only a 4 year degree (35%), while 23% had a Masters Degree and 14% had a Doctoral or Professional (JD/MD) degree.
- Income: The level of education, which has been found to correlate with income, did not show any significant variance. The income mode fell in the $100,000 – $150,000 range (14% of respondents), but was actually quite evenly distributed among the ranges.
- Other Demographic Info: 63% of respondents are Married, 79% are white, 46% live in the suburbs, 20% live in the Mid West (and 17% in North East)
- Computer/Internet Use: 57% of respondents indicated that they spend 6 or more hours per day using a computer. 31% said the spend 3-5 hours per day on the computer. Comparatively, 35% spend 6 or more hours per day using the internet, while 42% indicated 3-5 hours per day. Those who suspect Kindle users are computer friendly and internet savvy could certainly point to these results as indications that they are on to something.
- Newspaper Use: This study also found some differentiation in how Kindle users use newspapers. While 47% of respondents indicate they access online newspapers at least once per day, only 32% said they use a print newspaper once per day. 33% of respondents never use a print newspaper as oppose to 16% who never visit an online newspaper. 41% of respondents access blogs at least once per day, while 22% never use blogs.
Kindle vs Apple iPad
In our September 21, 2009 blog we wrote:
Kindle may be the first general purpose technology device in which the early adopter demographic favors the over-54 age bracket instead of the usual 18-34 age bracket, effectively turning one perennial marketing trend on its head.
During the next few years, we believe demographics will split the e-reader consumer base into two camps, with the 35-and-up going with Kindle (boomers over 55 in particular) and the 18-to-34 (especially Generation Y) with the iPad.
It seems strange that Apple has given the 55-and-up consumer to Kindle without a fight, given its view of monetizing old media. A recent poll by Pew Research shows that boomers still place reading a book, magazine or newspaper high up on their daily activities (see bottom table) and they are still willing to pay for it. The Kindle was one of the most common 2009 Christmas presents for this group, and Amazon’s e-books outsold paper books for the first time on Christmas day. We believe that the boomers like its low price, simple lines, keyboard and the fact it is “grandchild proof.”
Also, older or more serious e-book readers don’t want a multifunction device with an LCD screen. They spend far too long staring at those screens for work and want to read normally, by ambient light. Kindle also uses a low-power e-Ink screen and offers much longer battery life.
Here’s the problem Apple faces: It has launched a beautiful product (robust on the beach?) with a high price into the emerging very value-conscious consumer bracket of Generation Y. We do not believe the iPad will end up in the computer history museum, however. With the current price point, the company’s legendary marketing team has its work cut out during the next two years.
Thinking out of left field, perhaps the iPad will end up replacing the laptop, just as the laptop has replaced the desktop as the primary computer in many situations. Also, Kindle could allow the newspaper industry to monetize the boomers’ love of newspapers and magazines. If this is the case, newspaper stocks could be tomorrow’s interesting contrarian play.
Price Value Placed on eReader Devices
In brief: We surveyed 4,706 US consumers in an online survey to find out what value they place on eReader devices. We used a Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter methodology to ask consumers four open-ended questions:
- At what price would you consider an electronic book device/eBook reader a bargain?
- At what price would you consider an electronic book device/eBook reader expensive but still purchase it?
- What price would be so inexpensive that you would question the quality of an electronic book device/eBook reader?
- What price would be so expensive that you would not consider buying an electronic book device/eBook reader?
We plot all the data and to find the optimal price range for different segments of consumers–what price you’d have to charge for the device to get the maximum number of consumers buying an eReader.
What we found was that the price points for how most consumers value eReaders is shockingly low–for most segments, between $50 and $99. (Currently, eReaders in the US are priced between $199 for the Sony Pocket Reader and $489 for the Kindle DX.)
Here you can see the breakdown for how different segments of consumers answered the question, “At what price would you consider an electronic book device/eBook reader expensive but still purchase it?”:
Of the 181 million US consumers who are online, 14%, or 25 million consumers, say that eReaders priced at $199 or higher — the current price range for eReaders — are expensive but they’d still consider them for purchase at that price point.
What this means: The maximum addressable market for eReaders as they are currently priced is substantial–but to reach the largest market possible, the prices will need to come way down. And even then, eReader are never going to be as big a market as mp3 players, which 110 million US consumers own.
But they will still have phenomenal social and economic impact as they catalyze a new behavior of digital reading across multiple devices. We’re just at the beginning of this revolution…