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Analysis of Socio-Spatial Differences in Germany for the Definition of Online Milieus

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Journal of International Business Research and Marketing
Volume 2, Issue 6, September 2017, Pages 37-45

Analysis of Socio-Spatial Differences in Germany for the Definition of Online Milieus

DOI: 10.18775/jibrm.1849-8558.2015.26.3005
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.18775/jibrm.1849-8558.2015.26.3005

Knut Linke

University of Latvia Faculty of Business, Management and Economics, Latvia

Abstract: This research paper is part of a research project that analyses the influence of socioeconomic variables on the usage of online social networks to provide quality ensured social media supported business transactions. The research in this paper contains the analysing of the online milieu groups from the Responsibility-Driven Individuals and the Digital Vanguards, which were defined 2012 as milieu groups for online users in Germany. Both target groups are part of the in Germany well-established approach of lifeworlds and milieus for the differentiation of groups in the society. With such a distinguishing of customer groups, the communication with agents in social media communication will be more efficient due to a more standardized targeting. To increase the information fundament about the two mentioned lifeworlds and to be able to select those mentioned areas on more valid preferences, an analysis of past lifeworlds definitions and lifeworld analyses are conducted. The analysis in this research covers the lifeworlds’ definitions for milieus in Germany since the mid-1980th. In the analysing of the former definitions of lifeworlds the area of the mentioned online milieu groups is set as a requirement for the analyses to find more information about those fields in the German society. The research ends with an overview of the (qualitative) influence factors, which might present for customer selection from the mentioned lifeworlds and contains suggestions and questions for additional research in the research project. Also, it creates professional strategies for improvement of building and urban resilience.

Keywords: Social structure analysis, Social media management, Online target groups, Customer behavior

Analysis of Socio-Spatial Differences in Germany for the Definition of Online Milieus

1. Introduction

This research paper is part of a research project regarding the evaluation of the influence of a socioeconomic variable on the usage of Internet services. The usage is analysed to provide a more quality ensured usage of social media communication to prospected and active customers during business transaction within electronic markets. For the analysis of social network users and online target groups, several differentiations exists. Most of them descript a special behaviour or a dedicated variable. A need is given to distinguish groups in social networks and electronic markets as a part of society including different preferences and variables.

Since decades the interaction and cooperation of groups in societies and their dependencies, similarities and capital are researched and superordinate models, called milieus, were developed. For the definition of those milieus preferences, like consumer behaviour, social capital and time usage are used to build dedicated groups within a society. In this research article, the development of milieu separation in German and foreign societies are analysed to provide an overview of the development process of milieus from offline to online markets.

During the research the questions below are followed:

1. Which models for the influence of socioeconomic variables on human beings are established in Germany?
2. Do those models explain social interaction on the Internet?
3. Which customer groups can be identified to support a model that can analyse the influence of socioeconomic variables on Internet users?
4. Which identified variables in those models are mandatory for additional research?

The results display an overview of the development of the different milieus and the changes or statics in the personal preferences of the members of the milieus. The researched preferences will be used for the modelling of online target groups and pairing of those target groups with preferences for community and collaboration pattern within social networks. The outcome of the research will be used for the development of an analysis of the German Internet market.

2. Literature Review

The segmentation and socio-economic grouping of customers markets is a common marketing tool (Brassington & Pettit, 2005). Segmentation for variables like geographic, demographic or psychographic is recommended. Also, the segmentation based on activities, interests opinions or behaviour is a common usage for the separation of consumer behaviour. Even multi-variable segmentation, which is a combination of the mention segmentations, is common for marketing purpose. Markets have been segmented since products were differentiated from services (Dickson & Ginter, 1987). In this regard, a company has to distinguish between deliberately differentiated and undifferentiated marketing activities. The advertising performed by the company needs to be in the form of a goal-driven marketing strategy and based on the purposeful choice of a customer segment. Market segmentation aims to define a market in understandable elements which are different from other markets in design. According to Freter (1983), market segmentation is ‘a tool used to render a market transparent’, a ‘two-step process of dividing a mass market into submarkets and the processing of a submarket or several submarkets’. This allows distributing the overall market into homogeneous groups of buyers or segments, as well as ‘dividing a market into homogeneous subgroups and customers, each of which can be viewed as a target market which should be reached with a particular Marketing mix’. Within the Marketing mix (McCarthy, 1978) differentiates uncontrollable variables as factors influencing the company which constitute the Marketing mix: ‘political and legal environment, cultural and social environment, resources and objectives of the firm, competitive environment, economic environment.’ These basic factors form the ways how a company can operate in the market. In this regard, the market segmentation is used (Freter, 1983) to better meet the needs of consumers in the selected segments by using market identification in conjunction with the distinction of the relevant total market for a product. As concerns marketing development, the market segmentation serves as the concretisation of both qualitative and quantitative marketing objectives.

The socio-environmental criteria, according to Freter (1983), can be referred to as ‘classic’ market segmentation criteria. McCarthy (1978) distinguishes three dimensions within a target market. The first is the geographical position and the influence of the demographic factors. These are expanded in the second dimension to people’s personal needs and behaviours in the light of the availability of a potential product or service which fits the requirements and behaviour of the consumer. The third dimension is the necessity to satisfy current needs in the light of the expense of making and comparing a purchase. McCarthy (1978) sees the environment as a factor which influences the customer. The environment is made up of the culture, social class, the target audience and the family and people surrounding the customer. Various factors and characteristics which can influence a person and his environment have been identified in a study by McCarthy (1978) including activities, interests, demographics and opinions of a human being. McCarthy (1978) defines the proposition that a market consists of various submarkets which correspond to a specific pattern and makes the market demarcated and definable against the forms of other markets. In this instance, the markets are similar to the markets by which they are surrounded. For this, the usage of lifeworlds might be good fundament to provide a valuable customer differentiation based on socioeconomic variables.

The behaviour of society regarding the interaction in social networks shifted in the past decade from offline social networks to computer-supported social networks. Those are used especially in the field of electronic markets on the Internet as online social networks for the field of private and business connection and interaction. With the increasing use of computers, laptops and tablets during the last years, especially in Germany, the usage of the Internet for the exchange of social interaction and information has increased in the society tremendous (Hradil, 2012).

For social media marketing, the Internet offers a broad combination of communication channels to customers through social networks – so-called social media channels. For the usage of those channels conducting combinations of the usage are recommended to reach customers (Gillin, 2009). For the usage of social networks, several reasons may exist. Ernst et al., (2010) indicate that human behaviour within using social networks is determined by influencing factor, and the single motivation that prevails is meeting social norms and similarity. Zhou (2010) sees online social networks as similar to networks in the society. In the study, he concludes that the cultural characteristics of a person dominate his social status and influences his patterns of social network use. Bimal et al., (2009) consider the personal interaction between friends and acquaintances to be the basis for networking in social networks. It considers the development of purely digital communities to be secondary in the interaction within social networks. It also becomes apparent that virtual connections are only important if the people know each other already, or there is no interaction between the two people in the real world. In this regard, sending birthday wishes is identified as a metaphor, according to which the user distinguishes between active and former friendships. Overall several reasons exist for the interaction on the Internet, and no clear reason has been identified or can be identified due to the complexity. In general, the interaction and the personal development, which was identified by Walker et al., (1977) as a primary reason for the participation in a social network, might be an additional reason.

For the usage of a social network, the structural characteristics of the personal space from a human being is important (Hollstein, 2008, pp. 94-95). Those characteristics include the subjective usage of a network in the context of personal relevance, which is influenced by the personal milieu of a person. A personal milieu includes the culturally specific and normative orientation within the interaction space of a human being. The personal preferences of a human being can be included in a visual description (Höfer & Strauß, 2008, pp. 204-208). Those visualisations should be presented the construction of a human being based on the sociodemographic information including family and work and their leisure activities. Those preferences are expected to change over the lifetime of a human being and includes an intercultural dimension. As a term for models which includes those influence factors and represents definable society cluster, the term lifeworlds have been established in Germany. In those definitions, groups of human beings are clustered.

Aspects relating to lifeworlds are defined by social structure analysis and milieu differentiation. Geißler (2006) defines lifeworld as a stable, regular, recurring pattern of everyday life with an emphasis on leisure, consumption and personal behaviour. The lifeworld can have an impact on family life, tastes, as well as work and cultural interests. In addition to self-representation and the relationship to family and culture, the belonging to a certain milieu is related to age and status (Geißler, 2006). The analysing of groups in the German society was started by Geiger (1932), who differentiated classes in Germany. For his differentiation, Geiger focused on the capital of a person and their working activity (1932). His research was forbidden by the Nazi regime up from 1933 due to the ability to display social differences in the society, which included the displaying of social inequality. Based on the avoiding of the displaying of social inequality in a social system the analysing through social structure analyses couldn’t be done until the end of World War II and the establishment of a democratic system in Germany. After World War II the science in Germany needed some time for recovery from those restrictions. As the most common form of defining the social environment of a society in Germany the SINUS-milieus have been established (Flaig et al., 1994). Since its introduction, the SINUS-milieus and the use of lifeworlds have become a standard in sociological research in Germany for the displaying of social differences in society. The basis for the currently used SINUS-milieus (Schulze, 1992) was set by (Nowak & Becker, 1985). The results were extracted and aggregated by Hradil (1987). The approach from SINUS contains and broadens the social structure analysis approach by Pierre Bourdieu (Vester et al., 1993), which he introduced in 1979 (Bourdieu, 1982). The basics by Hradil (1987) are available without charge. The milieus are periodically adjusted and updated to match the social structure of current society. The approach of lifeworlds itself was adopted in 2012 by the Deutsches Institut für Vertrauen und Sicherheit (German Institute for Trust and Secureness on the Internet), shorten as DIVSI, for the differentiation of Internet users in Germany (DIVSI, 2012).

3. Methodology

Lifeworlds are defined by the combination of capital or class membership and personal orientation toward living. The definitions can contain additional information about the lifeworlds if they are typical or recurring for those lifeworlds. The class or capital membership includes beside monetary capital also informal capital like knowledge or networks. For the research in these paper, two milieus from the (DIVSI, 2012) definition of online milieus are selected for further research: the lifeworlds fields of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals and the Digital Vanguards.

The 2012 version is used because it is the latest version which includes a combination of Internet usage and social background. A special version of the lifeworlds, which focus on the pure Internet usage, where introduced in 2016 (DIVSI, 2016). In that analysis, the personal orientation, which relates to the personal standing towards changes in society and personal views like opens, was replaced by an Internet-oriented approach. The opens toward the Internet were measured instead of the fundamental orientation. For our research, those definitions will not be analysed, because it cuts out the most of the orientation of a human being and is not usable for marketing purposes if socioeconomic data is available for customer selection.

The mentioned two milieu groups are selected due to their differences and because of their higher income which makes the in general highly interesting for business as customers. Also one group, the Digital Vanguards, are classified as part of the Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001), and the other group, the Responsibility-Driven Individuals, are from the field of Digital Immigrants (Prensky, 2001). The differences itself will be evaluated during the research in this publication.

Figure 1: Selected DIVSI Internet Milieus
Source: Author’s construction based on (DIVSI, 2012)

During the years and the different milieu analyses, the names and sizes for the milieus changed often. In general, the milieu definitions are mostly qualitative descriptions of the quantitative data. The description of the milieus is sometimes similar when they were similarly positioned in the milieu graph. The milieus with their preferences and their sizes are calculated via factor or similar analysis from social analysis from the German society. Normally, the size of those evaluations contains around 2,000 people and contains mostly quantitative questions and additional qualitative interviews.

The quantitative data which is used for the analysis is not available, and the SINUS-Institute hides the details of the calculation from the milieus. To get more information about the calculation similarities in the selected milieu, areas are collected to use that information for further calculations and selections of milieus. For this, the selected milieus and their names are used as targets to reach people who are similar to the descript milieus. It can’t be guaranteed that the milieus are 100% targeted or selected. The descriptions are only an indicator to reach similar groups in the society of Germany. The information in the different milieu was researched, regarding their demographic information including educational background, capital usage and available capital, personal preferences, work and family life, value orientation, everyday consciousness and media usage changes.

4. Research Results and Discussion

In this section, the results and findings from the meta-analysis of the different milieu analyses for Germany are described and compared. For the analysis in each step, the available milieu descriptions are displayed and compared. The analysing starts in a period where customers were only available offline, and includes first approaches for the analysis of online milieus.

4.1 Milieu Definition Analysis

For the analysis of the available description of life, worlds are analysed. As first life worlds definition, the social-structural analysis of Germany from (Hradil, 1987) is selected. This milieu analysis was not branded at SINUS-milieu analysis at that time.

Figure 2: German Milieus 1987
Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987)

In the area of the Digital Vanguards, two different milieus exist. Milieus which are the only party intersected are not covered. For the field of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals two milieus can be conducted:

Table 1: Milieus from the field of Digital Vanguards in the German Milieus of 1987

Value orientation –   Characterised by simplicity and genuineness

–   Political and social engagement are self-evident

–   Focusing on intangible values: self-expression, creativity and communication

–   Acceptance of the criticism of civilisation

Everyday consciousness –   Leftist political persuasion

–   Support of citizen and peace movement

–   Pursuit of freedom and justice

Social status –   High education

–   Low (students) or high-income level

–   Many pupils or students

Value orientation –   Disorientation of values and mind

–   Focuses on humanity and self-realisation

–   Pursuit of freedom, independence, creativity

–   Tendency towards consumption for prestige and luxury

Everyday consciousness –   Against conventions and the bourgeois

–   Be individual and authentic

–   Work is a necessary evil

Social status –   High amount of young people

–   Lower and medium income level

–   Low and medium education

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987)

Table 2: Milieus from the field of Responsibility-Driven Individuals in the German Milieus of 1987 – 1

Upper Conservatives
Value orientation –   Focuses on success and prestige

–   Ethos for privacy and family

–   Emphasis on social engagement, humanism, faith, commitment, social responsibility, harmony and ethical self-understanding

–   Stands for self-realization

Everyday consciousness –   Complaints about moral decay, detachment, value loss and materialism

–   Attaches to orderly family life and individuality

Social status –   High level of education

–   High income

–   Material success

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987)

Table 3: Milieus from the field of Responsibility-Driven Individuals in the German Milieus of 1987 – 2

Technocratic Liberals
Value orientation –   Focuses professional performance, success and self-realization

–   Emphasis on tolerance, liberalism, objectivity, good sense and progressivity

–   Support of humanism and “new humanity.”

Everyday consciousness –   Achievement-oriented

–   Focuses on social prestige, optimism about the future and a functioning family life

Social status –   Medium and high level of education

–   Established skilled or white collar worker

–   High level of working women

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987)

The analysis from the year 1987 was followed by different analyses of the changes in the German society through the unification of Germany. Geißler (2002) shows two different SINUS-Milieu analyses from 2000 based on the differences between the western and eastern part of Germany. The analysis of the eastern part was a momentum and disappeared in future research mostly. The western milieus in the western social structure analysis were similar to the so far analyses once. The Established milieu, which was in the field of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals, was only short descript as success-oriented elite with a focus on exclusivity. In the area of the Digital Vanguard, two milieus were set. First – the group of the Intellectuals and second – the group of Post-moderns which both supports a way of living in the field of post-modernism and individuality. During 2003 the SINUS-Milieus were also transferred to France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain and compare to the German milieus (Hradil, 2006). As next step, the SINUS-milieu analysis from 2005 will be researched.

Figure 4: SINUS-Milieus 2005
Source: Author’s construction based on (Geißler, 2006)

This analysis from 2005 was discussed and analysed in several publications which leads to a broadening field of information about this analysis. For the area of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals, two different milieus should be analysed. The field of the post-material sceptical is not taken into account due to the low level of the intersection and based on the fact that that milieu still exists as a separate milieu in the next analysis from 2012.

Table 4: Milieus from the field of Responsibility-Driven Individuals in the SINUS-Milieus 2005

Value orientation –   Represents the old German-educated classes: Importance of intangible values and family, pronounced interest in art and culture

–   Emphasises the boundaries of the milieu

Everyday consciousness –   Interested in politics, society and the economy

–   Focus on style, quality and speciality

Social status –   Many representatives are over 60, mostly retired, live in a 2-person household, high educational level, mostly university degree

–   Have greater assets or income

Interests –   Walking, Shopping, Reading and gardening

–   Exchange about healthcare and nutrition

Value orientation –   Self-confident people

–   Requiring exclusivity, luxury and professional success, interested in art, culture, travelling

–   Characterised by flexibility and pragmatism

Everyday consciousness –   Discussions about economy and politics, pragmatic
Social status –   Higher education, Middle-aged and mostly married, 3 or more person household
Interests –   Early Adopters and open for technical changes

–   Interested in mental training, golf and skiing

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006)

For the area of the Digital Vanguard three different milieus should be analysed and compared:

Table 5: Milieus from the field of Digital Vanguards in the SINUS-Milieus 2005

Post-Material Sceptical
Value orientation –   Members of the 68er movement

–   Postmaterialism & Cosmopolitan

–   Critical of technology and globalisation

–   Against conventions

Everyday consciousness –   Meaningful

–   Search for intellectual challenges

Social status –   All ages & Highly educated

–   Live in households together with kids (pupils), works as executives, civil servant or self-employed

–   High level of students

Interests –   Literature, art and culture

–   Sports, new media and education

Modern Performers
Value orientation –   Strong orientation for openness

–   Intensive living at work and during the private time

–   Intellectual interest

–   Search for success

Everyday consciousness –   Usage of changes and experiences (self-realization)

–   Follow ambitions

Social status –   Mostly young: students and pupils, or self-employees and (little) entrepreneurs

–   Higher income level

–   Future decision-makers

–   Multicultural orientation

Interests –   Events and clubbing

–   Interested in (new) sports, media and outdoor activity

Value orientation –   Love of life, cultures and scenes

–   No constraints in life

–   Patchwork biographies

–   New Boehme

–   Unrestricted spontaneous

–   Open for other ways of living

Everyday consciousness –   Reject rules and borders

–   Always in motion

Social status –   Mostly young singles

–   Works mainly as white collar worker, self-employed or students (income is provided by wealthy parents)

Interests –   Interest in music, art, culture, films and books

–   Intensive use of ‘new media’

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006)

Besides a new study of SINUS-milieus in 2011 (Geißler, 2012), the SINUS instituted introduced in 2012 a SINUS-milieu which included their Internet usage. As the first time in history, those milieus were sub differentiated. The milieus were divided into the primary segments of digital outsiders, immigrants or natives, as well as illustrate the new leading milieus. The participants of the survey who use the Internet come almost from all types of milieus. Nevertheless, some of the milieus have been poorly represented. The field of the Digital Immigrants, which contains the original Responsibility-Driven Individuals, constitute 20% of the participants. The Digital Natives, which contain the milieu of the Digital Vanguards, account for 41% of the research group.

Figure 5: DIVSI-Internet-Milieus of trust and security on the Internet

Source: Author’s construction based on (DIVSI, 2012)

Due to the situation that the DIVSI-Milieus contain the original Responsibility-Driven Individual milieu, only one milieu is selected in this part.

Table 6: Preference of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals from the DIVSI Milieus 2012 – 1

Responsibility-Driven Individuals
Value orientation –   Advocate and educated establishment with awareness of leadership

–   Follow performance ethics, live in diversity and have a responsible attitude towards digital advancement

Everyday consciousness –   It is believed that a person has to try everything at least once
Interior –   A preference for art and culture, as well as high-class, modern, elegant or traditional brands combined with an emphasis on quality

–   Furniture can be antique and the interior design lavish

Source: Author’s construction based on (DIVSI, 2012)

Table 7: Preference of the Responsibility-Driven Individuals from the DIVSI Milieus 2012 – 2

Responsibility-Driven Individuals
Social status –   Mostly 30 to 50 years old, total age range between 20 and 70

–   Most of the people are married and live in households with 2 to 4 people

–   Middle to high income; 34% of the individuals have a gross income of €2,500 a month

–   Most of the people have medium or advanced educational degrees

Media usage –   Using the Internet for entertainment purposes is avoided, activities as reading the news and communicating opinions are popular, the diversity of opinion on the Internet is praised

–   As regards the Internet users, they place a high value on their reputation and therefore actively attempt to ensure privacy and data security

–   E-Learning is supported as a positive part of the Internet

Source: Author’s construction based on DIVSI, 2012

Similar to the Responsibility-Driven Individuals, also for the Digital Vanguard only one milieu, the original description, is selected and analysed.

Table 8: Preference of the Digital Vanguards from the DIVSI Milieus 2012

Digital Vanguards
Value orientation –   Characterised by an emphasis on fun and entertainment

–   Strong individualistic attitude and strong desire for autonomy and elitist conduct

–   Search for independence in thought and action

Everyday consciousness –   See themselves as digital avant-garde, with a long-term and sovereign Internet usage
Interior –   Living area is comfortable, tasteful, modern and tidy, which creates a warm atmosphere

–   IKEA is the common brand (due to their elegance and design, as well as their usability)

Social status –   The participants are young: the average age is 35

–   The proportion of men reaches 68%

–   A high proportion of single or unmarried people in steady relationships.

–   Approximately 20% of the representatives of this milieu have reached university level

–   Income level is mostly superior; 41% have a net household income of €30,000

Media usage –   Laptops, tablets or smartphones are often chosen as the medium

–   Posting comments, sharing of content, as well blogs and forums are popular activities

–   Only 3% of the members of this milieu have been using the Internet for less than three years

Source: Author’s construction based on (DIVSI, 2012)

4.2 Extended Milieu Definitions

Out of the different milieus, the extended milieu definitions are conducted and built. During the conduction, it was analyses if a description was used permanently or in a similar form. By similar milieus, in awas reviewed for actuality and taken into account for the extended milieu definitions. The extended definition of the meta-analysis for the Responsibility-driven Individuals consist of the milieus from the Upper Conservatives (Hradil, 1987), Technocratic Liberals (Hradil, 1987), Established (Geißler, 2002), Conservative (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006) Established (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006) and Responsibility-Driven Individuals (DIVSI, 2012).

The extended definition from the meta-analysis of the field from the Digital Vanguard consists of the milieus of the Hedonistics (Hradil, 1987), Alternatives (Hradil, 1987), Intellectuals (Geißler, 2002), Post-moderns (Geißler, 2002), Post-Materials (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006), Modern Performers (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006), Experimentalists (Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006) and Digital Vanguards  (DIVSI, 2012).

Table 9: Results for the extended field of Responsibility-Driven Individuals

Area of the redefined Responsibility-Driven Individuals
Value orientation –   Conservative and (traditional) value-oriented, level of flexibility is rather low

–   Self-confident, progressivity and achievement-oriented

–   Focuses on success, accomplishment, goal achieving, self-realisation and prestige

–   It is believed that a person has to try everything at least once

Everyday consciousness –   Focuses on social prestige, individuality and a functioning family life (family values)

–   Focus on style, quality and speciality

–   Characterised by flexibility and pragmatism

Interior –   A preference for art and culture, as well as high-class, modern, elegant or traditional brands

–   Furniture can be antique and the interior design lavish

Social status –   Medium or high level of education (University)

–   Medium or high income and greater assets (material success)

–   Middle and higher age, includes retired people

–   Mostly married with children and live in households with 2 to 4 people

Interests –   Interested in personal hobbies, sport, art and culture (e. g. reading, theatre)

–   Interested in discussions about politics, society and the economy

–   Shopping (quality products e. g. furniture, garden and clothing products)

–   Can be early adopters and open for technological changes

Media usage

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987; Geißler, 2002; Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006; DIVSI, 2012).

Table 10: Results for the extended field of Digital Vanguards

Area of the redefined Digital Vanguards
Value orientation –   Characterised by an emphasis on fun, entertainment and self-realisation

–   Open for other ways of living and spontaneity which leads to patchwork biographies

–   Strong individualistic attitude, strong desire for autonomy, creativity and independence

–   Strong orientation for openness, intellectuality and other cultures (cosmopolitan)

–   Intensive living at work and during the private time

–   Characterised by simplicity and genuineness

Everyday consciousness –   Be individual, authentic and meaningful – search for intellectual challenges

Follow ambitions, always in motion, reject rules and borders (against conventions)

–   Usage of changes and experiences to reach success and self-realisation

Interior –   Living area is comfortable, tasteful, modern and tidy, which creates a warm atmosphere

–   IKEA is the common brand (due to their elegance and design, as well as their usability)

Social status –   Can contain all ages, but the main focus in the most analyses was on “younger” people

–   High amount of single or not married (steady relationship)

–   Low income only of students or pupils, otherwise above average

–   In general a high level of students or pupils and a higher education level

–   No blue-colour worker or unemployed contains self-employed and (little) entrepreneurs

Interests –   Interest in music, art, continuous education, culture, films and books

–   Interested in (new) sports, (new) media, events and clubbing

Media usage –   See themselves as digital avant-garde, with a long-term and sovereign Internet usage

–   The Internet, also mobile Internet, is used constantly and daily

–   Laptops, tablets or smartphones are often chosen as the medium

–   Posting comments, sharing of content, as well blogs and forums are popular activities

Source: Author’s construction based on (Hradil, 1987; Geißler, 2002; Hradil, 2006; Allgayer & Kalka, 2007; Geißler, 2006; DIVSI, 2012).

5. Conclusion

The results display preferences for the researched target groups. The result provides a set of qualitative descriptions which should be evaluated with Internet users in Germany and used to select customer and users groups from available research. The results have the restrictions that the analysed groups have partly similar preferences and values. Also, the results are qualitative, and the conversion to quantitative variables will need additional research. For further research the following research question should be followed:
How can socioeconomic variables for Internet users in Germany be quality ensured researched? This question should be supported by the following research questions:

1. How should the research design be developed to cover the range of the German society to avoid a focus on just one lifeworld?
1.1. Which fields of variables should be included in the research?
1.2. Which kind of pre-research is necessary?
2. Can the mentioned research from Pierre Bourdieu be used for that research?

Beside the evaluation of the socioeconomic variables, the dependencies between Internet usage and socioeconomic variables should be evaluated for the support of business transactions in social networks via social media marketing activities. This field should be supported by the following theses and research questions: “How is Social Media currently used in the German Internet market?”:

1. Does a common standard exist in the usage of social media in Germany?
1.3. Which context is targeted for the users?
1.4. Which functions are used in social networks?
1.5. Which interaction is targeted by the users?
2. Does a relationship exist between social media usage and the companies which use social media?

From the analysis of the different lifeworlds and milieu definitions theses for the future development of the groups of digital vanguard and responsibility-driven individuals can be conducted:

1. Dependencies exist for each of the groups from the digital vanguard and the responsibility-driven individuals regarding social networks, social network functions and interaction preferences. Those dependencies itself will be different between those two groups.
2. The groups of the digital vanguards and the responsibility-driven individuals will also differentiate their consumer behaviour, including traditional media.

Those thesises will be developed further, especially in the field of the necessary quantitative analysis of social network users in Germany.


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