Pay TV attracts a different kind of consumer than the PC does. In a recent report, Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) outlines how today’s offline population will choose the TV rather than the PC as their main point of online access. Pay TV will bring interactivity into 20 million European households this year, and by 2005 50% of European households will have iDTV. The growth of pay TV all over Europe will be the key driver for the increase of iDTV, and good interactive services and community will build customer loyalty. Email will be the battering ram for iDTV’s interactive services.

In Forrester’s Technographics® Europe research across five European markets — Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden — some overlap was found between ownership of set-top boxes and ownership of other devices like mobile phones or PCs. But dividing users by which devices they own reveals four groups with very different demographics, attitudes, and behavior: Boxed and Wired, Leaning Forwards, Laid-back Socializers, and Digital Outcasts.

Currently three out of four European consumers do not go online from their home PC. Forrester believes that the nature of Europe’s online landscape in five years’ time will be defined by this group. “iDTV has the opportunity to become the major point of online access for the present offline population if iDTV companies adopt email-friendly strategies. Email is the strongest driver for online access — cited by 66% of online PC users as the reason they go online from home. For many people, PCs are just an expensive email machine,” said Reineke Reitsma, analyst for Technographics Europe.

Forrester believes that iDTV companies that satisfy consumers in terms of technology, content, and price will be able to prevent this large portion of the population from moving to PC-based Internet access. “Offering just email via TV will not be enough,” Reitsma said. “Suppliers have to offer a keyboard, access from multiple TV sets, a good return path, and all this for as low a price as possible. But if they succeed, present PC suppliers will have to reposition.”

“Consumers with both a set-top box and online access from home — Forrester calls this group Boxed and Wired — account for the smallest percentage of the population. They are highly entertainment-focused, which shows in their ownership of all types of technology and their thirst for going out. Leaning Forwards represent 17% of the population. More than 50% are high-income technology optimists. They are primarily men motivated by career or entertainment,” explained Reitsma. “Thirteen percent of consumers fall into the category Laid-back Socializers, who have pay TV but no Internet access at home. They love to interact with friends. This category plus Digital Outcasts, which account for more than 50% of all consumers, will be the primary targets for winning iDTV companies.”

For the Report “iDTV’s New Battering Ram: Email,” Forrester used results from the Technographics Europe February and March 2000 survey of 17,500 consumers. Forrester’s Technographics Europe research program provides continuous quantitative information about consumers’ attitudes toward and adoption of technology. By applying a unique segmentation model to survey data from both Internet users and offline consumers, Technographics offers an innovative way of developing marketing plans for any technology-based product or service.