NEW YORK: Many consumers are becoming "device agnostic", causing global media habits to evolve rapidly, Accenture has argued.
The consultancy surveyed 8,002 adults in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia and the US, and found 30% bought a mobile phone or computer in 2010, with HDTV sets on 23%, ahead of smartphones.
However, although 87% of emerging market shoppers made a category purchase last year, just 71% of their counterparts in developed geographies had done the same.
Americans displayed the greatest frugality, as over 40% spent under $500 (€382; £323), while 57% of Chinese invested $1,500 or more.
When picking a brand, 61% of customers preferred the most innovative products, and 68% agreed they would pay a premium for eco-friendly items, reaching 89% in China and only 47% in the US.
More specifically, 36% of contributors said personal research primarily shaped decisions, beating word of mouth, scoring approximately 20%.
In all, 93% of respondents owned a computer, but demand for desktops and laptops could decline by 39% in 2011.
"There's an end in sight for the relevance of the personal computer as we know it today," Accenture suggested.
It estimated 8% of consumers worldwide now possess a tablet, and a similar number intend to snap one up in 2011.
Ownership has surpassed 20% in China, and should achieve 40% by 2012, and India's current total of 10% is pegged to double during the coming 12 months.
The proportion of participants planning to buy feature phones or other basic mobiles fell 56%, but smartphones enjoyed a 26% leap.
A quarter of the survey audience had acquired a device such as the iPhone to date, including 53% of Chinese, 33% of Americans and 10% of Japanese.
Mobile data usage has also hit 26%, evidencing the impact of these handsets on popular habits.
Email remains the most widespread digital activity as uptake approached 80%, and 39% of the sample dedicated at least five hours a week to this pastime.
Search secured roughly 60% having recorded drops from 84% to 61% in China, and slipped from 61% to 47% in India.
Meanwhile, 44% of the panel watched shows, movies and video online each week, with 31% viewing a minimum five hours worth of material.
Among the BRIC millennials demonstrated the highest engagement, 44% favoured streaming content on a computer, measured against 30% choosing linear TV.
Social networking boasted a 39% penetration, and 20% of Accenture's cohort spent in excess of 300 minutes browsing platforms like Facebook per seven days.
A majority of Russians and Brazilians were members of such Web 2.0 properties, with the US posting 46%, China registering 37% and India witnessing a decline from 57% to 42% year-on-year.
Only 20% of netizens wrote product reviews on social media, but BRIC users have shown particular enthusiasm for this activity.
Overall, 37% of people logged on to sites like Twitter and LinkedIn using a PC on a weekly basis, another 27% deployed a netbook and 23% utilised a tablet.
Sending and receiving email generated 40% across these three devices, and 24% on a mobile phone, a 10% improvement annually.
Furthermore, 21% of individuals had searched the internet through a TV set, and 37% expressed an interest in accessing online content in this way, an opinion attaining nearly 50% in emerging markets.
"Just like fashion businesses … consumer tech companies must align research and development capabilities with the ability to predict and follow consumer preferences around the world," Accenture concluded.
Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff