“Homeless” surfers — Internet users who are online from locations other than home — account for 10% of all European consumers. Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR), Europe’s foremost source of eCommerce research and analysis, recently published results of the first-ever analysis of this important segment of the population, which was drawn from Forrester’s Technographics® 2000 European Benchmark Study, a survey of 17,500 European consumers. This online segment is important not only for its size (one-third of Europe’s total online population) but also because it looks and acts differently from “home” surfers.

“For companies starting to sell and market online, overestimating Internet usage and, thus, the potential of online shopping, is a dangerous pitfall. ‘Homeless’ surfers, as we call them, are significantly less likely to shop online than users who go online in the comfort of their own home. Other common activities, like online banking, are also much rarer in this group. Making up 30% of the Internet population, ‘homeless’ surfers form a sizeable segment that deserves special consideration in any rigorous marketing strategy,” explained William Reeve, group director of data products at Forrester Research B.V.

These findings were extracted from Technographics research, which provides clients with continuous quantitative survey data about consumers’ attitudes toward and adoption of technology. Forrester believes the unique insights of Technographics come from the highly predictive nature of its segmentation model and the fact that the survey encompasses not only Internet users but also the behaviors and attitudes of offline consumers toward technology.

“Forrester’s goal is to deliver an unmatched view of Europe’s online consumers,” added Reeve. “We are fortunate that our methodology does not rely on measuring people’s activities at home — and so is not limited to less than three-quarters of consumers’ online activity,” stressed Reeve.

In the Brief “Homeless Surfers Won’t Surf From Home,” Forrester found location to be a key determinant of Internet users’ behavior and activity. Thirty-seven percent of home surfers shop online, versus 12% of “homeless” surfers. Differences also exist between different types of “homeless” surfers: those who are online from work are much likelier, more than 50%, to purchase and make financial transactions than those who are online from elsewhere (mostly students). The greatest disparities between these two groups exist when comparing chatting online, using free Web-based email, and playing games online.

Clients benefit from Forrester’s one-of-a-kind segmentation model: it is an innovative way of developing a marketing plan for any technology-based product or service. “European marketers can examine changing Pan-European consumer trends across all interactive channels, such as, how new WAP services complement or compete with other online channels like the Web and interactive TV. And our highly predictive Technographics segmentation helps our clients zero in on the consumer groups most likely to be of interest,” explained Reeve.