Who are the digital superusers?, by Carmina Crusafon

We live in attention economy, where consumers’ time is the most sought-after value. Your main enemy is dedication to multitasking, where attention is shared between different activities. As this habit has become habitual, this has forced us to start counting time differently in order to also count those that are done at the same time. Thus, consultancies specializing in consumption and digital uses have begun to identify a segment of the population that spends a lot of time on these tasks. They are called as the super users. Who are they? Why is this concept used? How do they behave?

Term with multiple meaning

The term superuser is used in different technological fields. One of the most common uses is related to Unix/Linux-like operating systems, which calls the ‘superuser’ the person responsible for the administration and configuration of the entire system. Is the only one who has permissions to add new users, install applications, configure devices, etc.

But this meaning is not the one that interests us, but rather the one that is linked to the new digital time computation. Superusers are a group of consumers who spend more time and money on digital media and services, becoming the segment that drives consumption and becomes the engine of market growth.

As when a new technology is introduced, the classification among users is established based on when they are integrating it, with the first adopters (‘early adopters’) being the most experienced; in the case of new services and digital content, super users will become the segment that will mark dynamics and evolution of the services that will have more adoption.

The evolution of the US market

To understand the importance of superusers, we will analyze what is happening in United States. It is the market that sets trends in the global digital environment and becomes the benchmark for understanding what is happening. We will take 2016 as the start date because the institution of reference in statistical studies, the Pew Research Center, identifies this category for the first time as the most active in digital services. In that year it corresponded to 7% of the US population.

They observed in their study that these superusers displayed different traits than would correspond to the typical first user of technology. In particular, the PewResearch survey identified a difference in their gender. Just as in the technological field, there is a tendency for the first users to be men; in the case of digital services, the majority of superusers were women. Specifically, the figure reached 62%.

What are superusers like?

This concept has already become common in market research. In fact, it has grown in the last six years and now this segment is already equivalent to 26% of consumers in the United States. That is, to a total of 68 million adults. Hence, technology and digital media companies are obsessed with attracting them to gradually increase their income. These consumers are the ones who spend the most time and money on digital services. Their consumption exceeds in 7 hours that of the rest of the Americans. This results in increased consumption of media, virtual reality, music, video games, and e-commerce. In turn, it leads to a greater number of subscriptions and use of services such as telemedicine, fitness, or financial services.

Related news

But where do these figures come from? It is the result of the calculation of multitasking activities, those that we do at the same time with several digital devices. According to the consultancy Activate, in 2021 the average American consumer was equivalent to a 32-hour day; of which more than 13 hours are dedicated to the use of technology and media. So with this new category, we have already expanded the factor that could not grow: time.

In short, digital time has already surpassed real time. We spend from 24 to 32 hours. We will have to continue studying the effects of this temporary increase.

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