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Moving Beyond the 'Average Consumer' Myth

Broad market segmentation concepts, such as "the youth market" and "baby boomers," are redundant in the 21st century world of connected digital lifestyles, according to the latest research from the Digital Consumer Practice at Strategy Analytics.

Their report identifies six distinct Connected Consumer market segments, ranging from "Affluent Technostyles" to "Practical Mainstreamers," and provides in-depth profiles of each group according to the group's adoption of and interest in digital products and services.

This research presents new insights on why some consumers are both late technology adopters and heavy Internet users; and why people from different age and income groups can behave in exactly the same way. Noteworthy research findings include:

- "Prudent Nesters" are late adopters but view the Internet as a vital communications tool.

- "Connected Aspirers" have the strongest interest in technology but only adopt products at an average rate.

- "Affluent Technostyles," while making up only 10 percent of households, have twice the ownership and usage rates for many digital products compared with the average consumer.

- "Technosumers" own many digital products but have little interest in the Internet.

"Companies that pigeonhole consumers according to age and income fail to understand the subtleties that determine their customers' behavior," says David Mercer, VP, Digital Consumer Practice. "New segmentation approaches that take into account the strategic role of consumer attitudes and behavior towards the web are critical for businesses wishing to maximize their growth and profit potential."

Report author, Harvey Cohen, President of Strategy Analytics, notes: "Our segmentation approach clearly resolves significant differences in buying behavior for technology products, usage behaviors for web-based services, and approaches for incorporating consumer technology in the home." The segmentation research is based on a survey of 2000 Internet users across 8 countries within Europe and the U.S. marketplace.

Even if some marketers don't agree with these segment clusters, or the chosen cluster names, then I would hope all will still acknowledge that there is the potential for greater consumer persona granularity. Furthermore, retiring the myth of the elusive 'average consumer' should help everyone to advance segmentation methods that incorporate more focused interest and lifestyle-related attributes.

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