To find the biggest concentration of digitally savvy consumers, you have to head to Texas, it turns out. Austin, to be exact. And the second-highest concentration of this segment is not in Silicon Valley, but in Las Vegas. Spots three through 10 go to, respectively, Sacramento, San Diego, Washington, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
The ranking comes from Scarborough Research, which identified a 6 per cent segment of the population as being digitally savvy, meaning they over-indexed in traits such as owning PDAs, DVRs, MP3 players and HDTVs, and using VoIP (or voice over internet protocol), blogs, mobile video, e-mail and text messaging.
"This group of people are early adopters and at the front end of the wave of digital experiences," said Gary Meo, senior VP-print and digital media services at Scarborough Research. "As the new gizmos come out and as cellphones become more sophisticated and people adopt the third-screen behaviors ... these are the people who will lead that charge. So it's interesting to look at what they're doing -- it's probably a look into the future."
Mr. Meo, who happens to live in Austin, said one must consider the size of the markets when looking at the geographic rankings.
"Everybody thinks San Francisco should be No. 1, but we measure the designated market area, a rather large geography defined by Nielsen Media Research," he said. "So with San Francisco we're not just talking about Silicon Valley. It also includes the East Bay, Santa Clara County and up north as far as Sonoma County."
Meanwhile, Austin's market is relatively small and happens to have a high concentration of folks who use the aforementioned digital devices. And Las Vegas ranks high for important barometers such as internet and broadband access and cellphone usage.
What else does the Scarborough report say about the digitally savvy? Members of this segment are most likely to be men between the ages of 25 and 34. They are also likely to be affluent, with 57% living in a household that earns more than $75,000 a year, and well-educated, with 36% having earned a college degree or higher, as opposed to 24% of the total population. And the cohort is more likely to be Asian or U.S.-born Hispanic.
Digitally savvy folks also tend to be entrepreneurial, as they're more likely to be self-employed, work at home or own a small business compared to the general population. But whether this digital savviness is bred because they work from home and have to act as their own IT professionals -- or whether it's the reverse, that a digitally savvy person has an entrepreneurial streak -- is unclear. When Scarborough looked at SRI International's VALS psychographic profiling, the digitally savvy tended to be "innovators," "achievers" and "experiencers."
The segment is often involved in corporate purchasing decisions. They're luxury consumers and slightly more politically active then those who are not digitally savvy. They're also potentially up for grabs: They over-index in classifying themselves as independents. Digitally savvy consumers are more often active in physical activities and are fans of sports leagues; they're also heavy international travelers, especially to places such as Asia and the Middle East.
Not necessarily on MySpace
Where can you find these people online? According to Scarborough, ESPN.com, NFL.com, CNN.com, Ask.com and Amazon are the highest-indexing sites for digitally savvy web surfers. The research firm also points out that digitally savvy people are three times more likely than average to have visited ESPN.com in the past month, but only 38% more likely to have watched ESPN on cable within the past week.
It turns out the digital obsession doesn't cannibalize all so-called traditional media. Because the digitally savvy tend to commute more, they represent a high number of radio listeners. However, they watch significantly less TV. But that doesn't mean they're not interested in the content -- they just consume it differently.
"We think there's a sort of media connection with this group, Mr. Meo said, adding, "They have a tendency to download TV shows, music and participate in blogs."