The Consumer That Never Sleeps

All marketers are interested in email, and so all marketers should be interested in Social Butterflies. You know them. They are the young women, ages 18 to 34, who cannot seem to walk down a street or ride in a bus without interacting with or being physically attached to mobile devices. But did you know that Social Butterflies, as they have been dubbed by Experian Marketing Services, are three-and-a-half times more likely than the average consumer to check their emails?

Wanting to get a detailed breakdown of “Always On” consumers, Experian tapped the Simmons National Consumer Study, with a base of 30,000 participants, to learn which Americans use what devices and how. Though Experian chose to survey the United States for its high penetration of Internet users (79%), it claims that the resulting segments can be found worldwide. “This consumer really is a global phenomenon, equally likely to be found in New York, Nottingham, or Sao Paolo,” says Nigel Wilson, Experian’s managing director of data and analytics.

Sub-species of the Always On digital animal break down thusly:

Social Butterflies, the prime advocates: These young ladies register the highest levels of connectivity, making liberal use of technology for social networking and shopping. Experian uses the word “technology” purposefully with this group, as they’re 70% more likely than average to use tablets, 60% more likely to own MP3 players, and 48% more likely to use e-readers. Butterflies are twice as likely to post a review online and three times more likely to discuss a purchase on social networks.

Everything Techs, the apostles of the new: Also ages 18 to 34, these early adopters are addicted to the new, from the hottest bar or restaurant to the latest electronic gadget. They’re 63% more likely than average to have used a tablet recently, usually for streaming and downloading video, their content medium of choice. The best way for marketers to reach these change-happy consumers, in fact, is via videos posted on social media. Some 60% of them purchase products advertised on their devices and they are six times as likely as average Joes to trust product information they get from social networks.

Working Professionals, the no-nonsense bunch: Career-focused individuals aged 35-44, and more male than female, their digital connectivity is largely related to work. They are the easiest folks to engage during work hours, being 84% more likely to use a PC on the job, yet they are the hardest to convert. Most don’t want to see ads on their mobile phones, and they’re 50% less likely to purchase products they see advertised on social sites. The brick-and-mortar crowd should mark them, however: Working Pros show more than twice the interest of average consumers in services that allow them to make purchases with their phones in stores.

Gamers, the anything goes group: These young men, ages 18 to 24, are device agnostic. If you can get a game on it, they’ll pick it up and master it. Most of them use at least seven of the eight game-enabled devices named in the Experian study. They’re 89% more likely than average to play games on their work computers once a week. Gamers present a conundrum for marketers. Fewer than 10% of them would opt into receiving ads on their mobile phones, yet they are 90% more likely to purchase a product advertised on mobile devices. Looks like media planners aiming at this target can begin and end their schedules with free game apps.

Other segments emerged from Experian’s study, but these were the four with the biggest numbers. “It’s not to say, for instance, that Baby Boomers are not part of this trend. They most certainly are,” says Experian spokesman Matt Tatham. “All consumer groups are jumping across channels all throughout the day. The main message for marketers is to focus on the consumer, not the channel.”

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