We Proudly Present Our Annual State Of The US Consumer Report

I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from our annual The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2011, US report. This data-rich report is an institution in the US, covering a range of topics on consumers and technology. For those of you who aren't familiar with our benchmark report, it's based on Forrester's annual survey that we've been fielding since 1998 and for which we interview close to 60,000 US adults. In fact, almost anything related to consumers and their use of and interest in technology can be found in this study.

In this year’s report, like last year, we segmented consumers by generation, examining Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. This view continues to provide some very interesting and actionable consumer insights into how technology behaviors vary across generations. For example, younger generations are more active on social networks; however, of those Boomers who are using social media, a similar percentage has a Facebook account or a LinkedIn account as their younger counterparts. The younger generations are far more likely to have a Twitter or MySpace account, though.

The theme of this year’s report is connectivity: How are the different generations using technology inside and outside the home and which devices do they use? Here are a few interesting general insights that we uncovered:

  • Gen Zers use the Internet wherever, whenever. Of course, for these 14.5 million US consumers, digital is the norm — they don’t know a world without mobiles or the Internet. More than four in five access the Internet outside the home, and two in three use the mobile Internet at least monthly.
  • Gen Yers are the mobile generation.Gen Yers have the highest uptake of smartphones and are most likely to use the mobile Internet on their mobile. They use their mobiles for a wide range of activities, from playing games and listening to music to looking up directions. Two in three online Gen Yers fall into our SuperConnecteds Mobile Technographics segment.
  • Gen Xers are comfortable with technology.Gen X is the largest generation, containing 52.3 million US adults, but it is the middle child in many ways. However, in many activities, Gen Xers closely rival or even surpass Gen Yers in adoption. For example, online Gen Xers lead in the ownership of entertainment-related devices like HDTVs, DVR devices and services, and 3D-capable HDTVs.
  • Boomers embrace technology slowly but certainly.Although neither Younger nor Older Boomers are the first to embrace a new technology, they aren’t technophobes. About 60% of online Younger Boomers (those ages 46 to 55) access the Internet outside the home, and about a third own a smartphone. Also, about one in five online Older Boomers (those ages 56 to 66) uses the mobile Internet regularly, and about a quarter listen to the radio online.
  • The Golden Generation is the generation that’s most left out.The Golden Generation consists of 16.6 million US consumers aged 67 or older and is the generation that’s slowest to adopt technology. But they will embrace technology when it’s relevant to them. For example, more than 60% of the online Golden Generation own a digital camera, 19% are SuperConnecteds (who use their mobile for a variety of activities), and 64% have purchased a product or service online in the past three months.

The report is based on the annual benchmark survey that we run in our North American Technographics® program. We've been fielding this annual survey since 1998 and this year, for the first time, we collected the data through an online methodology. We received 57,924 completed questionnaires in the US alone (we also cover Canada). It is our biggest consumer survey — in fact, it's the biggest and longest-running survey of consumers and technology in the world — and it covers the impact of technology on a variety of consumer markets, including automotive, consumer technology, banking, healthcare, marketing, media, retail, and travel. The sheer size of the Technographics sample allows us to look at online consumers in a variety of ways, including through the lens of the more than 400 brands we ask about. Please contact me if you'd like more information.