There's life (and opportunity) behind data

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My attention was drawn this week to a recent eMarketer study that showed that 11 percent of Americans - mostly 18- to-29-year-olds - were now using mobile phones only. Eleven percent is not a huge proportion overall, but with the trend emanating mostly from this highly influential age group, it will likely increase as others follow, and as the original perpetrators of the trend get older.

While I sit a good few years north of that age group, I'm currently one of them, living in a mobile-only household for the first time in my life. As a result, I feel like a rootless tree. You don't realize how much you use a landline until you don't have one. (In fact, I caved, and as I write, Verizon is working on a landline installation in my house.)

For I'm part of another key, lifestyle-based demographic: I moved into a new house two weeks ago, in a highly disorganized fashion. I barely remembered to submit my change-of-address information to the US Postal Service. I haven't even told my bank, let alone the magazines I subscribe to or the companies whom I describe as my marketing partners - those whose catalogs and mailings I receive gladly, and those whose loyalty programs I'm a member of.

As a result, I'm receiving none of my usual commercial mail, and my magazines are on the racks long before they arrive in my mailbox. I'm a consumer fresh out of the egg, receiving only local fliers and mailings from the few companies who are acting fast on the USPS's mover information. It's fascinating seeing the customer-acquisition process from such a raw state, and I'm understanding firsthand why I receive so many press communications regarding the collation and offering of new-mover data.

In this cocoon, my e-mail and mobile phone are the only platforms in my life that haven't changed. Even then, with the impending move giving me less time than usual to go through my Gmail every day, I was prompted to unsubscribe from a number of companies with whom my relationship had long expired. As for mobile, I've never received marketing communications through that medium.

All of this showed me how hard it can be for marketers and information specialists to keep track of consumers as they cycle through lifestage events and, more importantly, that one lapsed customer is not the same as another.

Consumers like me who are going through key life-changing moments are in prime buying mode. Every day in the office, I get pitches from people who are seizing these moments - moving house, getting married, having a baby, retiring - and delivering brilliantly targeted messages and offers to consumers. The irony is, it's these very life-changing moments that can make people incredibly hard to target. While it's my job to think about marketing, I'm also a passionate consumer and would dearly love for an entity to step in and update and reinstate my details for me, so I may continue the commercial relationships I had nurtured. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying watching the new picture that is being built up of me as a result of my most recent activity. Keep the coupons coming.

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