Mobile defines the family guy: how mobile segmentation discovered a new millennial male

Mobile devices have become an extension of who we are. They are always on, always with us, and we check them over 150 times each day. There are over six billion active mobile subscriptions and, as the fastest adopted technology worldwide, mobile is now seen as a promising tool for understanding purchasing behavior and defining customer segments.

Mobile defines the family guy: how mobile segmentation discovered a new millennial male

By Carol Haney, SVP Product Marketing, Toluna

 

Mobile devices have become an extension of who we are. They are always on, always with us, and we check them over 150 times each day. There are over six billion active mobile subscriptions and, as the fastest adopted technology worldwide, mobile is now seen as a promising tool for understanding purchasing behavior and defining customer segments.  

 

Mobile is today an integral part of the purchasing process. It is used for price comparison when deciding what to buy, for web browsing at the checkout, and for leaving reviews after making a purchase. Using mobile technology to understand purchasing behavior from a research perspective is therefore a logical progression. 

 

With the aim of exploring and validating the use of mobile technology for this purpose, a Toluna study reviewed a popular segmentation that is often used for males, last used and popularized in the 2005 ‘Man’ study undertaken by Leo Burnett. The review was designed to address the conundrum that, although millennials have the largest overall buying power of any age group at $170 billion, 74% of males in this age group believe that images of modern men in advertising are unrealistic.     

 

Using a combination of three mobile research techniques – in-store surveying, passive monitoring, and psychographic profiling – our study challenged the assumptions that are commonly used by marketers to advertise to the modern man. The assumptions were based on two segments defined by the ‘Man’ study.

 

The first segment was metrosexual man, which makes up 40% of the male population and is seen as the modern man that is willing to embrace non-traditional roles. The assumption was that this segment would purchase based on product delivery and brand perception, and not on price. 

 

The second segment was retrosexual man, which makes up 60% of the male population and is defined as the traditional man that clings to stereotypical male behaviors. The assumption was that this segment would purchase based on price and less on brand affinity. 

 

Although by definition millennials are people born between 1985 and 2004, the focus of our study was 21-28 year old male shoppers who were purchasing toothpaste and tooth whitening products. 

 

Initially many of the common male stereotypes held fast. Men within the metrosexual segment were more likely to be single, lived in urban areas, enjoyed work, played video games and used moisturizer and other beauty products. They paid more to purchase brands, and they paid more for convenience. Retrosexuals were more likely to believe in God, to worry about household bills and health, and to focus on fitness. 

 

However, there were surprises found in purchasing behavior of fast moving consumer goods. The in-store mobile survey showed that metrosexual men were actually more likely to choose, for example, toothpaste based on price than on brand. Men from within the retrosexual segment reported in a screening survey that they bought toothpaste on price, but in fact were more likely to buy toothpaste based on brand. This discrepancy illustrates the advantage that in-store mobile surveys have in getting close to the purchasing moment and recording what customers actually do rather than their perception of what they do. 

 

When psychographic questions were used in a follow-up survey to investigate the values and opinions underlying these purchasing behaviors, various explanations for the reversal of the standard assumptions about metrosexuals and retrosexuals became clear. 

 

Although metrosexual men are likely to buy luxury items based on brand, they see toothpaste as a staple product on which they can economize, and so they tend to buy toothpaste based on price when they were able to choose amongst less expensive and more expensive tubes of the product. Retrosexuals are concerned about money and therefore see themselves as buying the cheapest products, but are in fact more likely to purchase a familiar brand to avoid conflict with their wives.  

 

Another revealing outcome of the study was the identification of a third segment of millennial man that sits between metrosexual and retrosexual. Men within this segment, which has adopted the name “family guy”, tend to be married with one child. They enjoy being at a party as much as being at home, live in the suburbs, own a video game player, and are generally pretty satisfied with life. 

 

The purchasing behavior of the family guy segment was distinct from that of both metrosexuals and retrosexuals. The family guy tends to rely more heavily on others to buy his toothpaste, but when he does shop himself, he chooses products that are on sale. Family guy believes in the importance of smelling good and equates white teeth with cleanliness. His motivation for buying toothpaste is that the type of toothpaste purchased signals health and hygiene.    

 

One common factor between the three segments was that they all used mobiles whilst shopping. However, each segment used their mobile in a different way, which could potentially influence their purchasing behavior. Mobile use while shopping was measured using a passive meter app that participants were asked to download.

 

Metrosexual men used their mobiles three times on average during their shopping trip. They mainly used apps related to banking, social media and travel. The family guy segment only used their mobiles once on average while shopping. Apps on their mobiles related to lists, shopping, gas, or travel. Retrosexual men generally used their mobiles for voice calls rather than apps, but the apps they did use were for games, sports and media.

 

Increased knowledge about mobile use during the buying process can help advertisers to directly influence these distinct segments of purchasers at the moment of truth – when they are actually deciding what to buy. Where advertisers are relying too heavily on the classic definition of the metrosexual and retrosexual segments, certain purchasing behaviors may be misunderstood. Equally, purchasers that fall into as yet unidentified segments, such as family guy, may be completely overlooked.

 

Although the segments defined in the ‘Man’ study still hold true, mobile technology has enabled us to perform a closer analysis of the characteristics and behaviors of these segments, and to identify a new segment for further investigation. Our study combined the new mobile research techniques – in-store surveying, passive monitoring and psychographic profiling – to provide enhanced results and to show that segmentation should be the result of continued analysis, rather than a standard starting point for research.

 

The family guy has been born – but this is just the beginning for research through mobile. As mobile devices move from screen devices to wearable devices – such as today’s Google Glass and FitBit, and tomorrow’s embedded clothing and accessories – the measurement of in-the-moment behavior will need to change again. 

 

Company profile

Toluna

Toluna

Wilton, Connecticut, United States of America
Telephone:
(203) 834-8585
Email:
toluna@toluna.com
About Toluna:
Toluna is the only insights provider uniquely designed to empower today’s on-demand economy.
www.toluna-group.com

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