Understanding consumers' changing needs as they move through major life stages is critical for mobile technology vendors looking to penetrate key customer segments. According to a new study from IDC, as consumers advance through different stages of their lives, their interest levels, usage patterns, spending habits, and brand preferences for mobile and other technology products and services constantly change.
According to IDC's new segmentation model based on cluster analysis, the youngest early-adopter adult mobile consumers are "Fast Trackers," highly mobile Gen Xers strongly influenced by factors outside the home, such as their workplace and peers. Accordingly, three out of four Fast Trackers use business-branded PDAs, such as the Windows Mobile Pocket PC based devices manufactured by HP versus Palm OS based PDA models. Eventually, these individuals become more established professionally and financially, and many get married and have children, establishing "Techno-Tribes." Family influences play a key role in Techno Tribes' purchases as evidenced by the ubiquitous penetration of entertainment products, such as home video game consoles, portable game players, and cable/satellite television among this segment. Later in life, as these individuals move towards empty nest households and imminent retirement, they become "Quintessentialists" with a higher net worth. These individuals are also quite loyal to brands with which they are comfortable and somewhat more frugal in their spending on mobile and other IT products and services.
"Understanding consumers' life stages is a key element in targeting the consumer market with mobile technologies and services," said Dana Thorat, senior analyst of IDC's Mobile User program. "Consumers are a market in flux, and the key to reaching these customers is understanding their changing mobility and information technology needs and what influences them as they advance through the years."
The IDC study, Hitting a Moving Target: Consumer Life Stage Segmentation for Mobile Technologies (IDC #30989), profiles consumers in three distinct life stage segments - Fast Trackers, Techno Tribes, and Quintessentialists - as well as Mainstreamers who are consumers on a slower adoption path. Each segment profile compares mobile adoption patterns, family and workplace influences, work habits, technology experience and comfort levels, as well as brand preferences with regards to PCs, mobile phones, PDAs, converged mobile devices, and various other consumer-related products and services. The report includes the cluster analysis model, detailed cluster profiles, survey methodology and definitions, and actionable guidance for companies developing next generation mobile and home digital products and services.