NEW YORK: Online shoppers in the US are more likely to use a tablet than a smartphone for purchases, unless they are millennials, according to a new study by the IAB.

The digital trade body carried out a custom analysis of data supplied by Prosper Insight, including its Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Study (October 2015) of 7,276 respondents surveyed online and its annual 2015 Media Behaviors & Influence Study of 16,228 respondents surveyed online.

In the resulting IAB Digital Shopping Report, the IAB revealed that 18-34 year olds were more likely to favour smartphones for mobile retail activities than any other age group.

Overall, consumers generally purchased using a tablet (35%) more often than a smartphone (28%), but the reverse was the case for the younger age group, who preferred to make purchases using their smartphones (43% vs 35% on a tablet).

In comparison, 35-54 year olds were more likely to use a tablet for a range of shopping needs – including reading product reviews, locating stores and checking store hours, and checking product pricing – and to make purchases on those devices (41% vs. 35% general population).

The younger age group, however, preferred to read product reviews on their smartphones (44% vs. 32% general population) as opposed to tablets (32%).

They were also inclined to check prices on a smartphone (42% vs. 33% general population) and were less likely to do so on a tablet (32%).

Further, consumers aged 55-64 were more than twice as likely to make a purchase on a tablet (34%) as on a smartphone (15%). And that ratio was also the case for those over 65 (26% vs 11%).

The report also highlighted generational distinctions in showrooming, a practice regularly undertaken by half of US adults. Showrooming refers to the practice of researching products in physical stores and then buying online.

Thus, 18-34 year olds were the likeliest group to showroom (67%), and having done so to make purchases from another retailer, whether at a physical store or online.

In contrast, over half (53%) of 35-54 year olds showroomed, and they had an equal likelihood of buying in the store or at a competitor's store, while older showroomers aged 55+ tended to simply buy in the same brick-and-mortar retailer where they already were.

Anna Bager, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile and Video, IAB, said the study highlighted the contrasts in how the generations shop on digital. These were, she added, "significant differences that need to be considered in brand marketers' strategies".

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff