September 30, 2010, 9:41 AM

Memo to marketers: Target campaigns based on how consumers use mobile phones

The sophisticated 19% represent a prime target, but don’t write off the rest.

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As marketers focus increasingly on reaching consumers via their mobile phones, it’s tempting to target smartphone owners or younger consumers who live to text. But such broad segmentation misses important nuances in how different groups of consumers use their mobile phones, Forrester Research Inc. argues in a report released this week.

“The first step in building or refining a mobile strategy is understanding the mobile behaviors of your target audience,” Forrester analysts Julie A. Ask and Charles S. Golvin write in the report, “U.S. Mobile Technographics 2010.” In this report they attempt to segment consumers not by what type of device they own or their mobile activities, but by what motivates them to use their phones as they do. Understanding that, they argue, can help marketers achieve better results.

To that end, the Forrester analysts divide U.S. consumers into six groups by how they use mobile devices. (Because there is some overlap in the three segments that use mobile devices the most the totals add up to more than 100%.) Here are the six groups and the characteristics most relevant for marketers:

  • SuperConnecteds: Generally the most sophisticated mobile consumers. 57% own smartphones and 24% what Forrester calls “quick messaging devices,” phones designed for text messaging and limited web access. “They access the Internet on their phone at least weekly and/or make regular use of multiple advanced applications and services,” the report says. 7% purchase and 21% research through their mobile phones. 53% are male. This group includes 19% of U.S. adults, Forrester says. “SuperConnecteds are a mandatory target but demand a quality experience,” the report says.
  • Entertainers: Members of this group, 15% of adults, play games, listen to music or watch video on their phones at least weekly. 41% are under 30, 54% are male, and they’re the only group more likely to own an iPhone than a Blackberry. 48% own smartphones and 23% quick messaging devices. 7% purchase and 19% research via mobile. “Entertainers research and buy products on their mobile phones, so both ad-sponsored media and paid content are viable approaches with this group,” the report says.
  • Connectors: 9% of the U.S. population, this group uses their cell phones at least 25% of the time for work. They skew heavily male (63%), and they’re especially fond of Blackberrys. 51% own smartphones and 18% quick messaging devices. 6% shop and 14% research through mobile phones. Companies targeting this group should prioritize Blackberry devices and pay special attention to security because Connectors’ phones are likely to store company as well as personal information, Forrester says.

The next three groups typically do not use their phones to buy or to research purchases. There is no overlap among them, Forrester says.

  • Communicators: This group, 21% of the population, uses mobile phones both to talk and message. 94% use text messaging, and 57% are women. Only 7% own smartphones and 27% quick messaging devices. They are prime targets for text alerts, coupons and contests. But only 13% have the unlimited data plans that make frequent access via mobile phone practical, so Forrester recommends a call to action that does not require Internet access.
  • Talkers: This group, 34% of U.S. adults, mainly uses the mobile phone to talk. Most are over 50 and their gender mix is similar to that of the population as a whole, 48% male, 52% female. Just 2% own smartphones and 5% quick messaging devices. This group occasionally uses text messaging, so Forrester says they could be targeted with promotional or reminder text messages, with a click-to-call follow-up option.
  • Inactives—They don’t own a mobile phone and represent 11% of the adult population, down from 19% in 2008. 63% are over 50 and they are more likely than other groups to have low incomes and be slow to adopt new technology. This group can’t be reached by mobile phone, but there may be opportunities in other devices, such as “a lifeline necklace that provides one-button access to emergency services,” Ask and Golvin write in the report.


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