Lifestage Predicts Web Shoppers

Income and age, often seen as predictors of how people utilize the Internet for shopping, may not be the best indicators of online shopping behavior. A variety of lifestyle and wider demographic factors also play important roles, according to a new study from Acxiom Corp. While there is a strong correlation between higher income and increased online spending, there is not a direct relationship, show results from Acxiom”s Personicx Consumer Dynamics Study. The study is based on analysis of shopping by clusters of consumers, based on specific consumer behavior and demographic characteristics.

When it comes to income, three clusters, the so called, “Hard Chargers,” between the ages of 30 and 45, are single with no kids and live in suburbs or towns, spent more online than so called, “Established Elites,” between age 46 and 65, married or single with no kids, and living in the city or surrounding areas. The Established Elites had the largest mean income of the 23 clusters studied. Hard Chargers’ income averaged 42 percent less than Established Elites.

Members of the, “City Mixers,” an upper middle income cluster, also are more likely to be above average online spenders than members of 11 affluent and wealthy clusters. City Mixers who spend the most online were between the ages of 36 and 45, single, with no kids and live in a downtown metropolitan area. The age range of committed online spenders, those who spent more than $1,000 online in the past 12 months, also conflicts with conventional wisdom, the study found. The average age of the head of household for 14 of the higher spending clusters, which represents about two thirds of the total, is at least 40 years, and six clusters have an average head of household age of 50 or older.

The study breaks out committed online spenders by age within clusters. Leading the committed spenders were members of the, “Summit Estates,” cluster, between the ages of 36 and 55, married with school age children and living in cities or surrounding areas. Ranked second among committed spenders were members of the, “Shooting Stars,” who are between the ages of 30 and 45, married or single with no kids, and live in suburbs or towns. They are followed by Hard Chargers and Established Elites.

The study also noted that web shoppers in younger clusters, those in their twenties or thirties who grew up with the Internet, may already be committed online shoppers despite incomes that are, in some cases, half of others in their group. Based on the results of the study, Acxiom analysts recommend that online retailers refine marketing messages based on shopping behavior, and then refine again based on the shopper’s life stage.