We are reaching a new baseline for culture. It’s a baseline where “online” is no longer a technical state. “Online” just is. Connected consumers now have access, at any time of the day or night, through multiple devices and platforms, to all aspects of their information and product needs.
The digital natives of today have been born into an always-on culture. For many children that are growing up with early adopters for parents, they have never known a time without cell phones. They have never known a time without wireless internet buzzing through the walls of their home. Connectivity flows in the air.
Nearly 50 percent of U.S. online consumers are now advanced users of smartphones, social networks, and other emerging tools, up from 32 percent in 2008, so digital consumers matter. Not just because there are increasing numbers of them around the world, and not just because digital behavior now impacts virtually every single product category.
No, digital consumers matter because they have stronger relationships with brands. On average, across all categories and countries, digital consumers have a 15% stronger relationship* with a typical brand.
So, who are these "iConsumers?" Digital consumers fall into seven distinct groups characterized by the types of digital experiences they prefer:*
- Digital-media junkies: As the heaviest user of digital activities across platforms, "junkies" are three times more likely to be early adopters of new technologies. The average junkie age is 28 with 62% being male and 38% female, and these users represent 19% of all respondents.
- Digital communicators: Active in online communities, communicators are above-average smartphone users and use social networking sites 3.2 times more often. Average age is 35 with 33% male and 67% are female representing 16% of all respondents.
- Video digerati: Viewing 2.6 times more videos across all platforms, video digerati are much more likely than other groups to consume Internet-based video content, though they are late adopters of most other new technologies. With an average age of 34, 53% are male and 47% are female representing 14% of all respondents.
- Gamers: Representing 10% of all respondents, gamers spend more time gaming than any other segment, 2.5 hours a day, and are less likely to own smartphones. 54% are male and 46% are female.
- Professionals: Representing the lowest percentage of all respondents at 6%, professionals like new gadgets and are more willing to pay for sleek designs. They primarily communicate by email, and are heavy Web browsers, yet they are less likely to watch videos online spending 44% more time on email. With an average age of 43, this category is 53% female and 47% male.
- On-the-go workers: 11% of respondents identify themselves as on-the-go workers who spend less time online than average and more time actually talking on mobile phones. Few in this category buy the latest gadgets, such as e-readers and they use mobile phones for voice three times more often. The average age of these consumers is 41 and they are 64% female and 36% male.
- Traditionalists: Almost 1/4 of all respondents (24%) categorize themselves as traditionalists. Spending 79% less time social networking, they are less interested in Internet browsing and social networking and are more likely to read print newspapers. The average age of this group is 48 with 61% female and 39% male.
* Source: 2008, 2009, and 2010 McKinsey surveys of 20,000 U.S. Internet users, aged 13-64
As the usage and processing power of smartphones increase in tandem with the rising speed of 3G and 4G data networks, mobile devices are invading the domains of single-purpose gear such as game consoles and portable media players, as well as PCs. Smartphones are also becoming the device of choice for email, Web browsing, and product research. Over the past two years, iPhone users have spent 45% more time emailing on their smartphones and 15% less time emailing on their PCs.
As the power and functionality of devices grow, the possibilities for making money from mobile platforms will continue to improve. Smartphone users are already more accustomed to paying for digital content and services than traditional online users are. Three-quarters of iPhone users now pay for one or more apps each month, though most remain free. As more products are distributed over mobile channels, greater competition will raise the importance of design, ease of use, and new mobile payment options.
Whether it's applications, digital devices, entertainment platforms, or e-commerce business models, there is no one size fits all. These substantial differences among these distinct groups show that brands, marketers, and technologists must develop tailored offerings for all.