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neo power

NEO PowerOn Wednesday, I went to the launch of this book by Ross Honeywill and Verity Byth. The authors, former directors of KPMG Consulting, have come up with a way of describing consumer behaviour that is markedly different from the baby boomer, gen x, gen y school of thought that categorises people according to when they were born and ascribes consumer tendencies to them on that basis.

Honeywill and Byth have analysed consumer spending patterns to identify three major groups that transcend age and social background. Traditionals are risk-averse, low-spending consumers, Evolvers don’t mind spending but are heavily influenced by finding the best price and NEOs buy what they want when they want because they want it. NEOs seek quality. NEOS spend. NEOs are the New Economic Order.

It’s not strictly about wealth – all three groups include wealthy people – it’s about willingness to spend. The message is that if you want to market a quality product, aim at the NEOs. They will buy quality because thay want quality.

There are (at least) two aspects to this reasoning that interest me. First, there seems to me to be an implication that NEOS know quality when they see it – but would they not also be the ideal target for mutton dressed as lamb? Are they not most likely to be victims of faddism?

The second, and most relevant to my working life, is the claim that NEOs are by far the strongest users of online services: banking online, shopping online, booking travel, reading news, driving the demand for broadband and feeding the craving for communications and entertainment gadgetry. NEOS apparently also have a social conscience, an appreciation of art and a willingness to be part of a community.

This analysis of 21st century consumerism (the trends have been around a long time but this is the first time they’ve been identified in this way) has profound implications for a number of industries, not least web development. On that basis alone, NEO Power must definitely be worth a read.

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