Today’s Data Digest topic comes from a personal observation involving my family. Last weekend, my husband was working on our Mac, I was doing some online shopping on my work laptop, and one of our kids was playing games on my husband’s work laptop. And I suddenly wondered: “Is this how a typical household looks, with every household member having their own PC?” So I dived into our Technographics data and found that we are indeed not atypical for our generation: More than 80% of US households have some type of PC, and almost half have more than one. About 77% of Gen X has a desktop PC at home, and 61%, a laptop.
Whether people have one PC or two, and whether those PCs are desktops, laptops, or netbooks, PCs serve different functions for different generations in the household. While Gen Yers are more likely to use their computer for media activities like playing games or watching TV, Gen Xers and Boomers use theirs for more practical functions, such as word processing or managing personal or family finances.
My colleague Thomas Husson wrote a report last year in which he looked at ”The Future Of Application Stores.” Overall, uptake of apps is limited: Only 15% of European smartphone owners report downloading an app on a monthly basis. By contrast, 64% of European iPhone users download apps on a monthly basis. Looking at what consumers are interested in most, Forrester's Technographics® data shows that games, music, weather, news, and social networking top the list for both iPhone and other smartphone users.
Companies that want to develop a mobile strategy should begin with a solid understanding of how mobile-advanced their brand's consumers are and will be. Mobile Technographics® places consumers into groups based on their mobile phone usage. The groups are defined by the extent to which the mobile phone user has adopted mobile data services, the frequency of use of these services, and the level of sophistication in the mobile applications he or she uses.
This week I’ve been busy at our Marketing Forum having some amazing conversations with phenomenal market insights professionals. These conversations have centered on how we can move the piecemeal research we’re doing now to research that really helps understand consumers more completely. As consumers entrench themselves in a 360-degree experience with companies, it becomes more important that we understand them as 360-degree consumers. Anyone who deals with researching young consumers already knows how important this is, and there are lessons that youth research can teach us in general. For example:
We can’t be afraid to try new methods or meld old methods in new ways. Sometimes we wed ourselves to a particular method at a particular time and for a particular purpose. We resort to our arsenal of tried and true approaches and feel limited by the methods that others within the company have bought into. Researching young consumers forces us to think outside the box about everything from question wording and type to selecting new methodologies. There’s no reason the same can’t (and shouldn’t) be done for general consumer studies. What we need to do is step back and consider what would really help us understand the consumers we’re trying to research and then devise a research plan that matches that need. It sounds basic (and is), but oftentimes we get stuck in a rut of how research is always done and forget to take that first important step.
Gen Xers live in device-filled households. Whether it’s gaming systems for the kids, HDTVs and surround-sound systems for themselves, or digital cameras and frames to showcase their families, Gen X households are most likely to have these devices. Gen Xers have mastered the art of functionally integrating technology into their lifestyle and maximizing its benefits. The first generation to grow up with technology, they are comfortable with it and recognize its benefits, as do the tweens and teenagers clamoring for devices in the household.
Boomers remain middle of the road on technology adoption. Both Younger Boomers (ages 45 to 54) and Older Boomers (ages 55 to 65) fall behind the younger generations in terms of almost anything technology-related: from the number of devices they own (on average, seven for Boomers and nine for Gen Yers and Gen Xers) to the amount of time they spend on the Internet. The one area where Boomers are ahead of the technology curve is on the amount of money they spend, on everything from telecom monthly fees to online purchases.