By Claire Reilly

More Australians are purchasing tablets than ever before, and these new devices are changing the way we shop and consume media, according to a new report from Deloitte.

In its State of the Media Democracy survey, Deloitte took responses from more than 2,000 Australians aged between 14 and 75, gauging the way they interact with consumer technology, media and advertising, and how they purchase products.

According to the survey, “Tablet sales skyrocketed in Australia in 2011 with more than 1.4 million tablets sold to the 13% of Australian households that own at least one tablet.”

Of those tablet owners, 31 per cent “indicated that their tablet was more valuable than any other media device they owned,” said Deloitte National TMT Leader, Damien Tampling.

“Tablet adoption is nearly equally distributed across all age groups with Xers (29-45 years) having the highest percentage of ownership (16 per cent of respondents) followed by Leading Millennials (age 23-28) and Trailing Millennials (age 14-22) with 13 per cent and 14 per cent of respondents respectively,” he said.

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These tablets are changing the way Australians enjoy entertainment around the home, with 60 per cent of respondents saying they use digital devices to multitask while they watch TV.

In addition, mobile devices have altered the consumer’s in-store experience, with many retail customers using tablets and smartphones to compare prices while they are on the shop floor. While many retailers may have anecdotal evidence of this occurring, Deloitte has found that as many as 41 per cent of shoppers will check competitors’ prices while standing in a retail store, according to a Deloitte Retail 3.0 research report.

“Consumers are becoming ‘shameless’ when it comes to telling in-store staff members they can get a product cheaper elsewhere,” said Tampling. “Price matching is everyday consumer behaviour as is asking questions about product issues they’ve read about online. It’s called Word of Mouth (WOM) in the 21st Century.

“Although seeking product information online is equally popular across all age groups, Millennials and Xers are more influenced by online reviews and recommendations than older generations,” he said.