Profiling 7 Segments of US Smartphone Users

February 20, 2014

Experian-US-Smartphone-Owner-Profiles-Feb2014Experian Marketing Services has released a report [download page] segmenting US smartphone owners into 7 groups, ranging from the hyper-connected “prodigies” (who make up 5% of the smartphone population) to the low-usage “talkers” (who make up 13% of users and tend to skew older). Each group is unique in its own right, presenting marketers with different opportunities to target and engage them.

Several of the top-indexing categories for each segment of the smartphone population can be found in the above chart (click to enlarge). Below is a summary of some other details concerning each of these groups.

  • Prodigies (5%)

Some 57% of these smartphone owners say they need to be connected to the internet all day, and 72% access the internet more from their mobile devices than from their computers. Interestingly, these super-connected smartphone owners are 52% more likely than the average to use a non-Android, iOS or Blackberry operating system.

Prodigies’ smartphone use doesn’t drop off overnight nearly as much as the other segments, per Experian. Perhaps they really want to be connected all day – and all night?

Prodigies are almost 10 times more likely than the smartphone owner to be interested in receiving ads on their smartphones and close to 6 times more likely to buy products they see advertised on social media.

  • Tribals (13%)

These individuals are “hyperconnected and device agnostic,” and tend to prefer all sorts of media platforms, over-indexing the average smartphone owner in 9 of 10 platforms measured (with newspapers being the sole exception). They’re 51% more likely than the average smartphone user to own an iPhone.

Tribals primarily differ from the other groups in their heavy use of social media (see above chart); despite accounting for 13% of the smartphone population, they represent 20% of those who use Facebook, Foursquare and Pinterest apps.

More than 6 in 10 follow their favorite companies on social media and a comparable amount see social as a platform for recommending products and companies. As for shopping, this group is the most likely to engage in showrooming, but with their affinity for visual social platforms, can be marketed to on the basis of products rather than just pricing.

  • Personals (15%)

Personals are less likely to use social media than Prodigies and Tribals, instead preferring to connect directly with their friends. This group is also more likely to use a Blackberry device and to use messaging apps such as BBM and WhatsApp that don’t accrue mobile service charges.

Despite being a segment primarily composed of consumers under the age of 35, this group is 45% less likely than all smartphone owners to often post or comment to social media sites. They are receptive to mobile advertising – being 2.3 times more likely than average to be interested in receiving ads on their phones, and 60% more likely to say they’d buy products advertised on their phones.

  • Pragmatists (18%)

Some 86% of Pragmatists use their smartphones as their primary device for accessing the internet from home, being more likely to use their phones than their laptops or PCs to do so.

As one might expect, they can be found performing a range of productivity-related tasks on their devices, ranging from banking and paying bills to getting news and paying for coffee. 3 in 4 say their smartphone helps them get work done wherever and whenever they want.

This group isn’t so receptive to advertising, though: they’re less likely than average to buy items they see advertised on social media or on their phones.

  • Browsers (24%)

The largest group, these smartphone owners are new to their devices and just starting to discover the advanced features they offer. These individuals are more likely to use their devices as they do their PCs, meaning that they use browsers more than apps.

Only 3% of Browsers report being likely to purchase products they see advertised on social media sites; fewer would buy based on a mobile ad.

A relatively small 9% say their phone is an expression of their identity. Primetime TV and magazines are good bets to reach this group.

  • Occasionals (11%)

Occasionals have some of the lowest usage rates, mostly making phone calls and checking the weather on their phones. Given their light usage, marketers should use mobile more for branding, as Occasionals will likely ignore ads served to them on their phones.

This group over-indexes in its use of PCs at work and at home, and are also more active readers of newspapers.

  • Talkers (13%)

These tend to be older consumers, with 40% of this group aged 55 and older. They mostly use their smartphones just for emergencies, preferring the landline for other phone calls. Experian notes that this group stands out in its use of video messaging – being the most likely to make video calls. That’s likely due to them keeping in touch with children and grandchildren.

This group enjoys print newspapers and magazines such as AARP and Consumer Reports, and should be marketed to on mobile only as a supplement to traditional media campaigns. They’re the most likely of the various groups to own an Android phone (65%), but only 23% go online from their phone.

About the Data: The Always-On Consumer report and segmentation was created using Experian Marketing Services’ Winter 2013 Simmons Connect Study, a comprehensive survey of 25,000 U.S. adults. Simmons Connect links consumer lifestyles, attitudes, brand preferences and more to their complete cross-channel media use across 11 platforms, including smartphones, digital tablets and personal computers. A cluster analysis was used to segment adult smartphone owners in the sample based on their agreement with more than two dozen different psychographic statements that measured their attitudes towards mobile phones, the Internet and social media. Results are projectable to the total U.S. smartphone adult population.

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