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Three new digital customer demographics - and how marketers must respond

24th Jan 2013
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How has digital and the rise of the internet impacted consumer behaviour? And how do you classify, map and reach these consumers?

We all know the internet is a big deal. Yet it is only when you stop and consider some of the facts about its recent growth that you get a grasp of just how big a deal it is and how ever present it has become in our daily lives.
The UK has one of the highest penetrations of household internet access in the world, the majority of which is broadband. By 2013, there are expected to be 48 million UK internet users, and according to Ofcom’s latest stats 76% of British homes are now connected to the internet, a huge jump from 2000 when the figure stood at just 25%.
Increasingly, and almost regardless of age, we are using the internet for shopping, social networking, booking holidays, searching for a new home or a new love, catching up on sports results or betting on them, as well as for conducting life’s more mundane business – like paying energy bills or sorting out finances.
The ONS’s latest annual internet access bulletin found that internet usage had increased across all age groups. While the largest proportion of users comes from the 16-24 year old category (some 7.18 million people), the largest decrease in non-users came in the 55-64 year old age group, with 86,000 getting online. Even internet user numbers in the 75 plus age group are on the up.
The UK’s digital landscape
So how has digital and the rise of the internet impacted consumer behaviour? And how do you classify, map and reach these consumers? While there are plenty of ways of segmenting audiences along more traditional lines and channels, with an element of online behaviour considered, what there has not been is a simple way to create reliable audiences that can be reached through all channels.
By analysing over 1.2 billion web page visits, 27 million hours of online activity using Experian Hitwise and creating 190 distinct behavioural metrics to help understand how each group in our existing Mosaic consumer segmentation behaves online, we have been able to build of picture of UK consumers’ lives online. Mosaic ‘types’ are modelled at postcode level and will therefore describe people likely to live within that household.
Using this segmentation we have identified 15 dominant online behavioural types from Trackers – those who keep up to date with their investments and the financial markets online – to Techno Geeks – the most prolific online community who spend time gaming and blogging.
Of course, some of these behavioural traits are overlapping and complementary. We do not only book our holidays online or just watch YouTube, so we will (and do) fall into more than one of these types.
Here are three emerging behavioural types
  • Daytime shoppers – 2.6% of the population. Those in this group are online during the day and regularly use the internet for grocery shopping and managing family finances. They are often mums with pre-school and primary school aged children or older people with fewer local shopping options. They spend less time online than the average person and search for online discounts and fashion. Top websites for this group include Tesco, Barclays, Marks and Spencer, AutoTrader and Next.
  • Bargain hunters – 3.3% of the population. These shoppers and fashion lovers search extensively for discounts and bargains, spending large amounts of time on auction websites to get the best deals for them and their children. They have a high overall use of the internet and are avid users of Facebook. These people also have a keen interest in biking – pedal or motorised. Top websites for the Bargain Hunters include eBay, Gumtree, HotUKDeals and AutoTrader.
  • Newshounds – 3.8% of the population. Newshounds are always looking to keep up with current affairs and sports online. The sports they are interested in and follow are male-dominated, including football, rugby and golf. They spend nearly two hours a day online, also using the internet for some shopping and online finances. They have a tendency to buy premium brands. Top websites for this group include BBC, BBC Sport, the European Tour (Golf) and Right Move.
What does this mean for marketers?
Being able to identify and interpret online behaviour allows brands to leverage digital insight for true cross channel marketing. Brands can identify geographic hot spots to target in new customer acquisition direct marketing campaigns, including direct mail, email and telemarketing. It affords them the ability to determine prime locations for local area marketing activity such as in store promotions, local press and outdoor advertising and define custom audiences to reach online, based on location and demographic insights.
Furthermore, the world of marketing is changing and the capability to personalise and target communications based on custom audiences is here today, even in linear TV broadcasting. Only by having this level of detailed consumer insight can marketers ensure their campaigns reach their target consumer audiences.
Demographic insights
The most affluent group in UK society is the Mosaic group known as Alpha Territories. Most commonly found in the wealthy and fashionable areas of London, this group is cash rich but time poor – so do not expect them to spend time trawling through the internet; they know what they are looking for and will look to get straight to the relevant pieces of information.
On average the lowest users of the internet are those older, active people enjoying their retirement in pleasant locations (the Mosaic group Active Retirement). Yet they are far from being digitally excluded and they are active online. Whilst they are the least likely to use social media they are the group most likely to be looking for the holiday of a lifetime, and in particular visiting cruise websites. As might be expected, the peak time for personal internet use is the evening and this is fairly consistent across the days of the week. However, there are some groups that dominate use at other times in the day. Young single people on limited incomes, who largely make up the Mosaic group Upper Floor Living are most likely to be online between midnight and 3am – these online escapists are likely to be found on gaming sites.
Identify and reach emerging groups
The newly identified behavioural types – such as Bargain Hunters and Newshounds – are not new consumers; these people have always been there. But their behaviours are changing in line with the irrepressible rise of digital technologies. Such changes must be identified and analysed to better inform marketing activities. Indeed, it is by keeping on top of the evolving behaviour of consumers that marketers’ efforts can be accurately targeted and implemented across the right channels.
Danny Thompson is product and propositions manager, data and analytics, at Experian Marketing Services.

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