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The Data Digest: Who Uses Location-Based Services?

Reineke Reitsma
Vice President, Research Director
December 10, 2010

Location-based social networks (LBSNs), apps that are downloaded on a mobile phone, offer organizations  a possibility of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 4% of US online adults have ever used location-based social networks, such as FourSquare and Brightkite, on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week. Although the uptake is limited to a small group, this doesn't mean that LBSNs are not useful.

Looking at the profile of location-based app users, we see that they are:

  • Influential.Geolocation users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
  • An interesting target group.They are typically young adult males with college degrees.
  • Heavy mobile researchers.They are also far more likely to search for information about businesses and products, as well as read customer ratings/reviews of products and services

Marketers and technology service providers can't create a market; consumers have to. With the current uptake of these services, most organization have to realize that they can't run location-based campaigns and expect to reach a large audience. However, cutting-edge, male-targeted companies can test LBSNs now. Gaming or consumer electronics companies are good examples of companies that should start experimenting with LBSNs now. While these programs might not generate a critical mass of volume, they can reach an influential audience and give your company a competitive edge.

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