The Rise of Chronically Online Consumers

In today's digital age, it's not uncommon for people to spend a significant amount of time online. However, there is a group of consumers who take it to the next level - the "chronically online." These constantly connected individuals are spending several hours a day browsing social media, consuming digital content, and engaging with online communities.


According to Brightfield Group consumer data, this consumer group is growing in both size and buying power. In this blog post, we'll take a look at who these consumers are, how they differ from the average consumer, and how to win them over.



Chronically Online Definition: Who They Are and What They Care About

What does chronically online mean? Also called “terminally” or “extremely” online, it is someone who spends a significant amount of their waking hours online. They are highly engaged with social media, often checking their accounts multiple times a day, and are avid consumers of digital content. This group is typically made up of younger generations, with millennials and Gen Zers being the most prevalent.


Chronically online consumers are an important group to understand. They are not just engaged with their devices, but also with the content they consume. There is no one subculture that can claim extremely online individuals, as they consume a wide variety of genres and mediums of content. 


With 20% of survey takers reporting posting on social media multiple times a day, this group represents a significant portion of the population and make up an important segment of buyers. In fact, according to Brightfield Group consumer research, this group spans multiple buyer personas and income brackets - presenting a rare opportunity to reach buyers who want to be reached.


Get the Data on Consumer Social Media Use


The Social Media Platform of Choice for Chronically Online Users

While different social media platforms have their own unique audiences and demographics, the one that sees the most posting from chronically online users is undoubtedly Facebook. This social platform is wide-reaching and almost synonymous with the term social network. Despite Facebook's declining influence particularly among younger consumers, many heavy social media users still likely spend multiple hours a day on the platform.


Other platforms preferred by chronically online consumers include: Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. Usage on these platforms is primarily driven by younger consumers, millennials and Gen Z.



How the Attitudes and Habits of Chronically Online Users Differ from the General Consumer

Chronically online users tend to have a few key differences in their attitudes and habits compared to the general consumer.


For one, they are more likely to be influenced by online recommendations and reviews, and are more likely to trust influencers and content creators over traditional advertising. 68% of consumers who reported posting to Instagram multiple times a day also reported that they research brands before buying.


In addition, these users are more likely to be socially conscious, and will often seek out brands that align with their values. 64% of consumers who reported posting on Facebook regularly also said that companies should support causes—a much higher percentage than the general consumer.


These buyers  are more likely to engage with content that is interactive and shareable. Because over a third of these consumers "consider the brands (they) like as part of (their) identities", they are also more likely to prioritize aesthetics and visual appeal when it comes to products and brands.


Chronically online users over index for Brightfield Group's "Wellness Seeker" persona. This means they are more likely to be early adopters when it comes to new wellness products. They tend to have higher incomes than the general consumer, and they tend to spend more time researching purchases before making them.


The two groups also differ in how they make purchasing decisions. For example, while the general consumer may look at a product or service’s price first and foremost when making a decision, chronically online users are more likely to consider value over cost when making a purchase. 79% of consumers who posted multiple times a day on Twitter, reported that "high-quality products are worth the extra money".


Although they tend to prefer in-store shopping, this group tends to be more open-minded about where they shop and what brands they choose from the available options—whether it is online or offline.



Winning the Hearts (and Wallets) of Chronically Online Consumers

When it comes to the brands and media sources that chronically online consumers prefer, it's important to note that this group is highly diverse and varied. However, there are a few common themes that tend to emerge.


Many of these users are drawn to brands and products that are innovative, visually appealing, and socially conscious. Examples include: Whole Foods, Nike, Apple, Target and Chipotle. These brands have all invested heavily in building online communities that keep these consumers engaged.


Chronically online consumers also tend to be highly engaged with digital media sources, such as online news sites, blogs, and social media influencers. As such, they have high expectations for brands, media sources, and products. They want to be entertained, informed, and inspired by the brands they interact with.


You can win the hearts (and wallets) of this diverse group by creating content that meets their high standards—whether it's online or offline. To best reach these consumers, brands must focus on being innovative and visually-appealing while also being socially conscious.


Social media influencers can also be effective in reaching this group, as they often share their opinions about the latest brands and products. It's also important for brands to recognize that this group of consumers tends to be highly engaged with digital media sources and may not be interested in traditional advertising formats such as television commercials or print ads.



Hyper-Targeting Chronically Online Consumers

Hyper-targeting groups based on social media usage and other factors can greatly improve programmatic ad results.


Consumer insights platforms like Brightfield Group present a unique opportunity to pair in-depth consumer data with consumer-reported responses.


When done correctly, programmatic advertising allows CPG brands to reach their target audience while also providing rich data-driven insights that can be used to refine future campaigns. By taking advantage of Brightfield Group's powerful consumer insights, companies can create more effective marketing campaigns for their products that speak directly to consumers’ needs and interests.

Understanding chronically online consumers is crucial for CPG brands looking to succeed in the digital age. By understanding who these consumers are and what they care about, brands can create targeted campaigns that resonate with their specific preferences and habits. Brands can reach these consumers on the platforms they use most and build lasting relationships that drive sales and grow their businesses. 


As the digital landscape continues to evolve, CPG brands that prioritize understanding chronically online consumers will be best positioned for success in the future.


Get More Data on Gen Z vs. Millennial Social Media Use


Published: 3/15/2023