A profile of women on the go: MasterCard

A new study from the credit card company looks at how women use smartphones, e-readers and mobile technology at different stages in life.

Young moms and career-oriented women are most likely among their gender to own smartphones and new mobile devices, according to a new MasterCard study on women’s relationships with technology.

There’s no question smartphones and e-readers are becoming more popular among all demos, but only about 16% of women overall said they use the advanced version of a mobile phone, compared to 36% of ‘connected careerists’ (women aged 18 to 34 who are employed full-time without children) and 21% of ‘mobile mamas’ (women between 25 and 49 years of age with kids).

Although just 3% of all women surveyed have e-readers like the Kindle and iPad, they are avid users of mobile technology in general: 46% said they could not go one week without their MP3 players, cellphones and cameras, and the access they provide to online shopping, social media networks and file storage.

The study, which was released yesterday and includes interviews with 2,000 women, was conducted by Environics Research Group from July 22 to Aug. 4, 2010. It segmented respondents into five categories according to their age and stage in life.

‘Aspiring adopters’ are women between the ages of 18 and 34 who are not employed full-time and are most likely to own MP3 players (81%) and smartphones (27%). They are also the second most likely to identify themselves as early adopters of technology (10%).

‘Connected careerists’ of the same age but employed full-time, without children, are identified as the earliest adopters of technology (16%), a profile enabled by this segment’s ability to afford the latest gadgets, such as digital cameras (92%), MP3 players (83%) and portable video/gaming devices (36%). Their annual income is between $25,000 and $75,000.

‘Mobile mamas’ also own a variety of devices, including digital cameras (92%), cellphones (77%), MP3 players (65%) and video/gaming devices (52%). Some of these devices are for personal use, while others, such as gaming devices, may be used by their children. Their annual household income is $75,000 plus.

The most reluctant adopters of technology (51%) are the ‘established but unimpressed’ women between the ages of 35 and 54 who have no children and often only own a mobile phone (84%), which they view as a tool. According to the study, ‘they are neither impressed nor intimidated by new or changing technology, and you won’t find them with the latest and greatest gadgets.’

In slight contrast, ‘silver speakers’ are women aged 55 and up who no longer have children living at home and view mobile devices as fashion accessories. Women in this group are open to new technologies are are most likely to own cellphones (70%) and digital cameras (83%), although they admit they could go a long time without them.

The poll also asked how women use their mobile devices. Only 10% said they make bill payments on their portable gadgets, while 49% said they communicate with a spouse, 35% surf the web and 31% talk to their children, on a weekly basis.

About 23% said they use mobile gadgets for work, 18% for games and 14% for their grocery or shopping lists.

Women’s tech purchasing decisions are still mainly influenced by price (91%), ease of features (86%) and brand (56%).