Applying market-segmentation techniques, Bellcore has concluded that about half of U.S. households are in some state of readiness for interactive services. Bellcore, the research and development arm of the Baby Bell companies, commissioned a survey of 2,140 consumers in households with at least $25,000 annual income. That excludes 25% to 30% of the population - lower- income people who are not viewed as likely prospects for on-line programs. Of those above $25,000, seven out of 10 are at least "in waiting" for interactive commercial or educational services, Bellcore said. Another 10% are "high tech-low interest" - computer owners waiting for a reason to buy an on-line service. That 80% of the over-$25,000 market constitutes a majority of all households - and probably a reasonable indicator of target-marketing potential. Taking a page from the trend-research experts who have used "psychographic" descriptors to great effect, Morristown, N.J.-based Bellcore created a "technographic" typology. It ranges from "information seekers" (22%), who are highly interested in many types of on-line services, to "low tech-low interest" (21%), who tend to be older and show little inclination to adopt new ways of doing business. Among those in between are the "high tech affluent" (7%), baby boomers who are "the most interactively literate"; "Web browsers" (10%), people 25 to 55 years old who are on-line and "ready to buy"; and "not yet on-line" (17%), the "interactive market in waiting," all with computers and 70% with modems. "Each of these segments is unique in both demographics and interactive habits," said Janilee Johnson, Bellcore vice president of public affairs, promotions, and advertising. Four out of 10 said "they need to find information fast and don't have time to make a lot of phone calls to get the answers," Ms. Johnson said. Of those expressing an interest in electronic communications, 93% said they would like to renew their drivers licenses, register their cars, or register to vote electronically, and 70% would pay bills that way. Virtually all the surveyed households had telephones; 37%, more than one phone line; 62%, computers; 39%, computer modems; and 81%, cable television. But indicating that on-line growth will not be automatic, even the numerous and attractive "information seekers" pose a problem; only 40% own computers, though 30% more expect to have them within a year. l
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