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Heavy User

The heavy users They are users of online media, websites, apps or other digital services who access the Internet constantly and who consume these services in large quantities. A regular user is called light user. On the other hand, heavy users are characterized by usage patterns that go beyond normal and average use of online media. Depending on the medium and the pattern of use, the concept of heavy user can have a negative connotation, for example, in the field of games, social media or Internet browsing. In e-commerce, apart from this, heavy users are those who make a higher than average amount of online purchases and spend large sums of money. In this context, they are also described as big consumers, big buyers, high rollers or big donors. In e-commerce, they are financially strong customers who represent a large part of their turnover, but are also very willing to switch to other brands and services.

General information

The term heavy user is derived from "heavy half". This is an idea that dates back to Dik Warren Twedt, and describes the market segment that is responsible for the majority of sales in a brand's product category.[1] The heavy half is contrasted with the light half to reflect the link between paying customers and total revenue. When comparing the number of orders generated, you can assume a tie of one to eight or one to nine, according to Twedt. This approximate ratio can also be called the 20/80 norm: 20% for heavy users causes as much revenue as 80% for light users. But such assumptions must be considered with caution.

The term heavy user comes from an analysis that examine overall order volumes of households in different sectors and product categories. The analysis reveals that, although heavy users buy more frequently and also place more orders, they also change brand and supplier more frequently. The study data does not reveal any characteristics of the clients or users. Demographic factors, income situations or other user profiles are not taken into account. For these reasons, the study cannot basically be used in e-commerce without the participation of KPIs.

How does it work

Heavy users are often considered profitable customers because they consume a 'relatively large number of goods and merchandise. Marketing activities are geared towards these users trying to convert exactly these user segments into loyal customers. Since heavy users are often characterized by experienced management of online media, it is difficult to permanently link them to a brand. It is not easy to convince these customers about a product. The problem with many marketers is that the Paying customer group is not always clearly distinguishable from other user groups. They have similar characteristics when, for example, user characters are created or customer behavior is statistically recorded.

Thus, marketers who want to target heavy users face three central questions:

  • What user segments can I encourage to buy a particular product?
  • How much can I earn with a certain group of users?
  • And how much will it cost me?

If these issues are examined more closely, the following terms play an important role:

  • Sales potential: The order frequency and the shopping cart values of individual customers or groups of customers are examined.
  • Profit potential: The probability that a customer is linked to a brand in the long term and buys in a certain category of products is estimated.
  • Return of investment: The cost of reaching a certain group of users in a medium is compared with the profit potential and is put into a link.

When a company analyzes its data from these points of view, the results can vary. The target group, which has the highest potential for sales, profit and ROI, does not necessarily match the user group of heavy users. This is fundamentally true in the case of profits and return on investment, since other user groups can also generate great benefits for a company. In this way, it is necessary to find out which group of users represents the greatest potential for a company, a brand or a product. Regardless, the fact that this segment is always made up of heavy users is not always a valid assumption.[2]


The characteristics of different user groups can vary widely, depending on user devices, media, themes, wants, and needs. For example, in the technology sector, heavy users are often customers between 30 and 49 years of age, which is contrary to the common assumption that technology users are in most cases very young. At the same time, many users have several devices in this area and are well informed about trends, developments and offers thanks to the Internet. The better informed the customer is, the more difficult it will be to target these target groups and convince them of a product.

Relevance for online marketing

In many cases, the dichotomy between heavy and light users is not an adequate means of addressing target groups. This system, which dates back to the sixties, is too simple and, of course, cannot be transferred to e-commerce and online marketing. Multiple data shows that the equation, heavy user equals paying customer, does not always apply.[3] In individual cases, the customer behavior can deviate significantly from the expected behavior of heavy users. Recent studies address this issue by adding new criteria to identify the most profitable target groups. These target groups can be specifically targeted on the basis of brand management and positioning in order to participate in customer loyalty programs, cross-selling or individualized services with these user groups, for example. In addition, there are modern strategies such as mass customization, customer training or direct feedback from them in order to achieve greater long-term customer commitment and loyalty.

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