If You’re Reading This, You’re “Above Average”




The Pew Internet & American Life Project published their findings of “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users,” on computer, Internet, mobile phone and other technology use among Americans. The full, 65-page study is available.

Technology Use

49% of the 4001 adults observed and surveyed in the study “only occasionally use modern gadgetry” or “bristle at electronic connectivity.” Another 20% are “middle-of-the-road” tech users, either finding technology burdensome and intrusive, or “mobile centrics” who are avid mobile phone users, but less into the Internet. The last 31% are “elite users,” who (for better or for worse) are highly immersed in technology.

Each of these groups was broken down further into 2-4 categories, separated by activities, “assets” (devices or hardware) and attitudes. Search Engine Land lists all of these subcategories, with Pew’s descriptions.

Gender

Although women composed just over 50% of the surveyed adults, just 30% of the most connected group (the “omnivores“, 8% of total population) and 35% percent of the “lackluster veterans” (another 8% of the total population) were women. A third subcategory among the elite users, those who use technology to improve their productivity (“productivity enhancers” (another 8%) were evenly split. The last group in the elite users, the “connectors,” was dominated by women (55% to 45%).

Outside of the elite users, only two other subcategories were dominated by men, and even then only slightly (4% difference, at the edge of the ±2% margin of error). These subcategories were the “mobile centrics” (in the middle-of-the-road category) and the “indifferents” (in the little-to-no tech category). The other four subcategories in the non-elite group were all dominated by women, ranging from 57% to 61%, and ranging from “connected but hassled” to “off the network.”

Income, Education and Age

As previous studies have indicated, higher incomes showed a positive correlation with technology use. Higher levels of education also showed a positive, but not as strong correlation with technology use.

The median age was lowest for the highest level of connectedness—”omnivores,” 28 years old, with 10 years online. Mobile centrics were next youngest, at 32 (6 years online; middle-of-the-road), and connecters were next with a median age of 38 (9 years online; elite). The other two elite categories, lackluster veterans and productivity enhancers, both had a median age of 40 and 10 years online.

The other middle-of-the-road category, “connected but hassled” had a median age of 46 (7 years online). The little-to-no tech subcategories ranged in median age from 47 to 53 (all with 5 years online).

Conclusions

Pew’s analysis of age by subcategory concluded:

This way of assembling the groups conveys an intra-generational pattern to information
technology adoption. Not all people in or near their 30’s got online at the same time, and
the same is true when looking at people in their 40’s and 50’s. Each age cohort appears to
have its technology champions who adopt early, with others then following. As the
typology shows, patterns of use among followers, as well as across each wave of early
adopters, vary considerably.

What’s the moral of the story? If your target audience (or your client’s target audience) falls into one of the more highly connected categories, Internet marketing is an important part of their campaign that shouldn’t be overlooked. And even if your target market isn’t the “omnivores,” Internet marketing can be important to appeal to the “technology champions” that Pew mentions.