Was Social Media A Big Factor In Holiday Purchases? Reach Your Own Conclusion!

It's sometimes amazing (and disappointing) what you find when you scratch beneath the surface of headlines. Take this one from Mashable: "Social Media Not a Big Factor in Holiday Purchases." It’s a big, eye-catching, alarm-raising headline, but as I dug into the story beneath the headline, I found my impression changed considerably.

The article reports on a ForeSee study that, according to Mashable, demonstrates that "social media may be an underwhelming driver" of retail sales. Based on the Mashable article, I downloaded the report from the ForeSee site, expecting a thorough exploration of social media's role in holiday shopping purchases. I was surprised to find that the portion pertaining to social media was a mere two sentences in the 22-page report. (In fact, ForeSee notes that its report could not contain all of the findings of the study, so additional information relating to topics like social and mobile will be made available in future weeks by request.)

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The Data Digest: Why Are Twitter Users So Attractive To Marketers?

As some of you might know, I'm quite an active twitterer. Earlier this month, there was a lot of discussion on Twitter about how unique we all were. Why? Because only a very small percentage of people actually tweet regularly. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 11% of US online consumers tweet monthly, while more than 84% say that they never tweet.

So who are these “tweeps,” and why are they so attractive to marketers? As one would assume, people who tweet monthly or more display many characteristics of early adopters: They are more educated, more likely to own a smartphone, more likely to be male, and more likely to have a higher income.


What really makes them unique, and at the same time very interesting for marketers, are their attitudes:

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The Evolving Behavior Of Smartphone Owners

"A phone is a phone. A  phone stays at home. A phone doesn't go with me in the car or out on the town." Not quite the skill set of Dr. Seuss, but this is a direct quote from my 78-year-old friend from the pool. She just disconnected her home phone and now relies solely on a new iPhone 4.

Our clients have watched their traffic (and sales) from mobile devices explode in 2010. Much of this excitement stems from their observations of those customers with either iPads or what we call smartphones — all of the Apple, Android, BlackBerry, HP/Palm, Symbian, and Windows devices consumers own. Adoption of these devices has been growing rapidly. It is hard to name a media outlet, retailer, airline, hotel, bank, insurance provider, fast food company, beverage company, or consumer packaged goods company without an iPhone and/or Android application today. When these same consumer product and service companies look forward at smartphone sales forecasts for the next couple of years, the excitement around the potential opportunities is even greater. They are thinking, "... more smartphone owners will mean more downloads of my applications will mean more sales via the mobile device ...." Will it?

My colleagues Charles Golvin and Thomas Husson and I began to describe this phenomenon in our recent Mobile Technographics report. Will consumers move up the ladder? Or leap over steps? Will increased smartphone adoption translate directly into more usage and sales to companies with mobile services?

I offer two more personal observations.

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Can Social Media Bring Peace On Earth In 2011?

Is it possible that in 2011 social media could help bring peace on earth, goodwill toward men (and women)? I’m enough of an optimist to hope so but enough of a realist to appreciate how naive that sounds. Still, I believe there are encouraging signs that social media can have a positive impact on the world — but only if it first has a positive impact on each of us.

If I predict that social media will bring peace to the world and am subsequently proven wrong, at least I’d be in good company. History is full of examples of technical advances that carried the promise of beneficial change but delivered something less. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, a more stable version of nitroglycerin, to make mining safer; he eventually used his wealth to establish the Nobel Prizes after reading an erroneously printed obituary that called him “the merchant of death” for “finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.” 

Cable television also once was seen as a force for positive change. A 1973 report from the National Science Foundation predicted cable television would “become a medium for local action instead of a distributor of prepackaged mass-consumption programs to a passive audience.” Alas, Bruce Springsteen accurately summed up cable television’s present and future when he sung almost 20 years ago that “There was fifty-seven channels and nothin' on.”

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The Data Digest: Who Uses Deal-Of-The-Day Websites?

Recently, deal-of-the-day Web site Groupon got a lot of attention because of Google’s interest in its business. We understand that there are a few attractive pieces to the Groupon story — it’s theoretically a very lucrative business model. My colleague Sucharita Mulpuru commented on this at the end of November with a post highlighting the business opportunities of deal-of-the-day sites. What I was interested in was the customer side: Who is actually using these sites?

Our Technographics® data shows that the majority of US online consumers aren’t familiar with deal-of-the-day sites like Groupon or Living Social, and another 25% haven't used them yet.

Looking at these numbers, you could say that there's quite some opportunity for growth. However, the current users have quite a unique profile: The 3% of US consumers who frequently use deal-of-the-day sites have a lot of money to spend (about half of them report having an average household income of $100K or more), and they expect to spend more money online this year than last year. They are twice as likely to be influenced by what's hot and what's not, two-thirds are willing to try new things, and 62% agree that they often change their mind about which brand to buy after doing some research — making them the ideal target audience for deal-of-the-day sites.

A Little Holiday Cheer From Our Team To Yours

Amidst all the craziness that the end of the year can bring, it’s always refreshing to take time out from the madness and enjoy something a little more light-hearted. So, in reflecting on the mixed bag of craziness and joy that is the holidays, we’re dedicating our holiday blog to market researchers everywhere. Hope you are enjoying this holiday season with some quality moments with your family and friends.

We present to you: eight ways market research feels like the holiday season all year long:

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The Marketing Software Convergence Continues: Teradata Acquires Aprimo For $525 Million

Teradata announced today that it was entering into an agreement to acquire Aprimo, a privately held enterprise marketing platform company, with a strong focus on Campaign Management and Marketing Resource Management (MRM). Coming on the heels of the acquisition binge by IBM who acquired Unica, Coremetrics, and a bunch of other analytics and data management companies, we can safely say that marketing automation and campaign management solutions are up for grabs.

I was briefed by Teradata and Aprimo executives on the rationale for the acquisition. They expect the deal, valued at US$525 million, to close in Q1 2011. Now this is an even greater premium than IBM paid for Unica. So besides this being a very happy holiday season for Aprimo executives and the board, what does this mean for marketers, CI professionals, and competitors? Here’s my take on the deal:

  1. Signals Teradata’s seriousness about the application business. Clearly all the data that drives Teradata's revenue isn’t enough. This acquisition signals a belief that Teradata views the business application space as critical to drive the utilization of the enterprise data warehouse. The fact that Aprimo has a strong on-demand marketing software business isn’t lost on Teradata either.  
  2. Strong complementary fit. In my experience covering this market and helping CI professionals select marketing technology, I rarely see Aprimo and Teradata compete in the same deal. Aprimo is always a better fit in B2B, mid-enterprise, or process management focused deals while Teradata TRM is a better fit in high-volume, retail-centric, or analytical campaign management propositions. So the coming together of these companies means strengthening the other’s weakness. In addition, they share some marquee clients like Walmart and Dell, which always helps.
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The Globalization Of eCommerce In 2011

Nearly one year ago, I asserted that the global economic downturn had not slowed the international expansion of eCommerce initiatives. In 2010, online retailers continued their push into new global markets: Gap launched eCommerce sites in the UK and China while starting to ship internationally to other markets; Amazon launched its first new localized Web site in six years;  Zara went live with eCommerce sites in six European markets.

The push toward global expansion is poised to continue in 2011, with few companies suggesting that international markets will represent a decreasing percentage of revenues in the future. And while Canada and the UK still rank as the top destinations for US online retailers operating abroad, it’s not just the markets of North America and Europe that are attracting attention. Indeed, companies increasingly cite emerging markets as key to long-term growth. A survey of business executives just released in the McKinsey Quarterly indicates that more than 75% of those surveyed expect to see revenues from emerging markets within the next five years; more than one-third of companies expect those revenues to represent more than 25% of the total.

Looking forward to 2011, we expect to see the following trends:

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For Consumers, TV Vs. The Internet Isn't An Either-Or Question

Our post last week on consumers’ reported TV and Internet consumption has attracted a lot of attention.[i] The data behind the annual report we published on the topic is fascinating in the trends it reveals on how consumers perceive their interactions with media outlets.[ii] While this report is dedicated to understanding consumers’ changing online and mobile behaviors, the data behind this report also lends itself to a conversation centering around the changing landscape of consumers’ media behaviors.

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How To Find Solutions Now For Your eCommerce Content Conundrum

Commerce organizations are drowning in content. Their catalogs and sites have grown, the sources of the product content propagated, and site versions divide and multiply across geography, microsites, and brands. Marketing and merchandising content has similarly amplified as this content supports cross-channel, search, email, and social marketing campaigns. Targeting, testing, and personalization all contribute to the explosion of content and content coordination challenges.

Types Of eCommerce Content And Their Purposes Vary Widely

Types Of eCommerce Content And Their Purposes Vary Widely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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