Marketing & Sales

Data-Tude: Here's 3 Hidden Secrets On Online Consumers

Data overload hides opportunity areas for builders and developers, and we're here to uncover some of the hidden gems in housing's statistical trove.

John McManus April 18th, 2021

Housing stats abound, everywhere. They can unlock market-opportunity truths or tell lies; and they can conceal well-kept secrets.

Realities of the value of data center around not just validity but, in almost every way, applicability. Stats that may be true on average may be entirely false on the margins – in certain markets, among certain households, at certain times, and subject to certain other conditions.

Contrarian takes on data – the hole in the donut – can meaningfully impact both judgment and decision-support in every pore of housing's complex business fabric.

A recent Pew Research analysis on U.S. online behavior trends serves as a case in point. Flip the data focal point, and, ta-dah! opportunity knocks.

Less Is More Than Enough

The headline observation is this. Three in 10 U.S. adults spend almost all their waking hours engaged with the internet, and the rate of increase in that group is noteworthy, compared with the same benchmark in 2015. Not surprisingly, that "almost always online" group includes almost half of 18 to 29 year-olds, and three out of five respondents, 30 to 49.

That's sexy. But how about a data point that can zero a counter-punching homebuilder into "unserved market" opportunity?

Here it is, hiding inconspicuously as a slice of the online pie:

Today, 25% of adults ages 65 and older report never going online, compared with much smaller shares of adults under the age of 65.

Now, any local market homebuilding operator whose 55+ customer segment accounts for 25% to 40% or more of their product line portfolio – particularly among lower-educational and income-attainment population tiers – recognizes big opportunity in an unserved or underserved offline market.

Go Where They Ain't

While 40% of adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more say they use the internet almost constantly, this is true for just 27% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year. Adults who live in urban areas are the most likely to say they go online almost constantly, compared with suburban residents and an even smaller share of those who live in rural areas.

Flip the focus and you're looking at 1 in 10 rural residents who are offline altogether, and 14% of those whose incomes fall below $30,000 are among those who don't spend any time on the internet. Entry-level and first-time-buyer focused and single-family for rent developers may find sufficient fundamental demand for their product lines, and only need to engage them with clever offline marketing tactics.

The Future Is Yesterday

Change rates matter. Just 1 of 5 adults is not online at least once a day. In the laws of big numbers, that's not a piddly absolute quantity despite its representing a minority share. Still, the velocity of online access penetration is the key story. Those who're cleverly availing of offline marketing and sales initiatives, start your pivot. Online is already it among most people in most places:

Despite some groups having persistently lower rates of internet adoption, the vast majority of Americans are now online, as ongoing government and social service programs encourage internet adoption in underserved areas. Over time, the nation’s offline population has been shrinking, and for some groups that change has been especially dramatic. For example, 86% of adults ages 65 and older did not go online in 2000; today that figure has fallen to just a quarter.

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


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