With Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, David Takes On Two Goliaths

Today Barnes & Noble (B&N) announced the Nook Tablet, a beefed-up version of the Nook Color that, in our view, gets everything right. My colleagues J.P. Gownder, James McQuivey, and I spoke with several product strategists from B&N about the Nook Tablet, including CEO William Lynch, President of Digital Jamie Iannone, and GM of Digital Newsstand Jonathan Shar. Our conversations and hands-on time with the device led us to conclude that the Nook Tablet:

  • Is a “wow” product. No, it’s not an iPad lookalike, and it doesn’t need to be. The Nook Tablet improves upon the Nook Color in key areas that matter for tablets, including a dual-core processor and a screen that’s fully laminated with no air gap—two technical details that add up to a better Web and video experience. Compared with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet has longer battery life (9 hours vs. 7), 2x the memory, and nearly twice the RAM—feeds and speeds that will make the device more convenient to use and snappier for media consumption and app multitasking. In addition, the Nook’s software update includes innovative experience improvements, such as the integration of recommendations into the navigation UI—think of it as a “Netflix-ization” of navigation.
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For Groupon, The Really Hard Work Starts Now

After months of drama, Groupon finally had its IPO last week, concluding perhaps the most anticipated event in the daily deals space.  Now, however, is the even bigger challenge of actually proving out its valuation. The obstacles aren’t small and we lay them out in a report out today called Myths and Truths About Daily Deals. We define daily deals as both the purveyors of prepaid vouchers like Groupon and Living Social as well as the flash sale sites like Gilt Groupe and Woot. Two of the biggest challenges for prepaid voucher companies are the following:

  • Little incrementality especially for core Groupon businesses like restaurants or even national retailer deals. The majority of consumers who redeem prepaid vouchers (80% in the case of clothing or shoe stores, for instance) were already customers of the brand, and more than half say they would have purchased anyway without the voucher. 
  • Email won’t drive growth moving forward. While Groupon vaunts the size of its “subscriber base” (i.e., email addresses), all evidence points to the medium becoming less important. A significant portion of people who once subscribed to these emails no longer do, and many simply don’t want to because they have no need for more clutter in their inboxes. On the other hand, we’ve heard anecdotally that revenues for these sites are increasingly coming from organic traffic, which can be good so long as a daily deal company can continue to keep its brand top-of-mind for consumers. Marketing and sales, however, are two of the expenses that Groupon has loudly vowed to reduce.
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Understanding Russian Consumers

Russia is the largest market in Europe, with a population of more than 140 million people. Russia has a highly urbanized population, it has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, and its GDP per capita is higher than in any other BRIC market— all of which are important assets for long-term growth. Today, we publish our first report on this market — “An Introduction To The Russian Consumer” — using Forrester’s Russian Consumer Technographics® data to explore some key trends in technology adoption, including the following:

  • Internet and PC adoption in urban Russia is making a promising start. Internet usage in Russia has seen rapid growth over the past few years. Today, almost 60 million Russians are online, making it the second-largest Internet market in Europe after Germany. As fewer than half of Russians are online, it has huge potential for growth. Internet adoption is highest among younger Russians, but there is a very sharp decline for older generations. Social networking is one of the top online activities in Russia.
  • The mobile Internet is a popular way to get online in urban Russia. Nearly every urban Russian owns a mobile phone. The speed with which Russian consumers are adopting mobile technologies and advanced mobile activities is starting to change the way that businesses communicate with consumers. Mobile Internet penetration in urban Russia is already in line with the European average, with one in five urban Russians regularly accessing the Internet on their phones.
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Looking Forward To Our Marketing & Strategy Forum 2011 On November 16th And 17th

One of the (many) things I have been working on for the past few months is this year’s  European Marketing & Strategy Forum, which is taking place on the 16th and 17th of November at the Grove, just outside London in Hertfordshire.

Our theme is about driving innovation for the next digital decade and what that means for leaders. We’re particularly focusing on some of what we see as the big disruptions of the coming digital decade: the growth of mobile Internet use; the growing demographic diversity brought by ageing populations; and the increasing economic weight of emerging economies, particularly the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries

I’m particularly pleased that we’ve got such a strong line up of eBusiness and channel strategy executives presenting this year, including:

·         Georges-Edouard Dias, Senior Vice President of eBusiness at L’Oréal.

·         Sean Gilchrist, Head of Digital Banking at Barclays Bank.

·         Jonathon Brown, Head of Online at John Lewis.

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Welcome To Our Newest eBusiness And Channel Strategy Analyst

We are very excited to announce the hiring of our newest analyst in the eBusiness and Channel Strategy team – Tiffani Montez.

Tiffani joins Forrester from Wells Fargo where she spent 20 years managing various aspects of digital strategy, implementation, operations and cross-channel integration across lending, investments and customer service.  Tiffani joins a quickly expanding team which includes Peter Wannemacher, Bill Doyle, Ellen Carney and myself in North America dedicated to eBusiness and channel strategy for retail banking, lending, investments and insurance.

Tiffani’s will focus on digital financial service technologies including areas like mobile banking, personal financial management, online banking, person-to-person payments, automated account opening, etc. Tiffani will explore the vendor landscapes for these and other areas to help clients understand about how to make strategic vendor choices, implement new technologies, and create a operational team to manage the solutions once installed.

Additionally, Tiffani will expand on Forrester expertise in the lending area as well as cross-channel integration to drive sales and service strategies.

Tiffani can be found on twitter at @tiffanimontez

Brad

We Proudly Present Our Annual State Of The US Consumer Report

I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from our annual The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2011, US report. This data-rich report is an institution in the US, covering a range of topics on consumers and technology. For those of you who aren't familiar with our benchmark report, it's based on Forrester's annual survey that we've been fielding since 1998 and for which we interview close to 60,000 US adults. In fact, almost anything related to consumers and their use of and interest in technology can be found in this study.

In this year’s report, like last year, we segmented consumers by generation, examining Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. This view continues to provide some very interesting and actionable consumer insights into how technology behaviors vary across generations. For example, younger generations are more active on social networks; however, of those Boomers who are using social media, a similar percentage has a Facebook account or a LinkedIn account as their younger counterparts. The younger generations are far more likely to have a Twitter or MySpace account, though.

The theme of this year’s report is connectivity: How are the different generations using technology inside and outside the home and which devices do they use? Here are a few interesting general insights that we uncovered:

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Are You Ready To Disrupt Yourself?

Or will someone else do it for you? That's the principal question I have after seeing the first week's worth of responses to our Digital Disruption Readiness Assessment survey. This 5-minute survey (available at forr.com/digitalreadiness) is already revealing critical vulnerabilities in corporate readiness. Consider the following data point:

It's not that people think their industries are safe from digital disruption -- quite the contrary. A full 76% see "significant opportunity" for digital to disrupt the industry they serve. Yet only a third think their companies will put the right resources in place to adapt to the changes that digital will bring. 

I spoke at a private conference outside of San Francisco on Tuesday and shared our digital disruption research with the room, elaborating on the Lose It! case study I posted on Mashable last week. Afterward, several entrepreneurs spoke to me about their own experiences as digital disruptors. One of them -- who self-identified as a Gen Yer who had recently received $15 million in funding for his startup -- explained to me that the cost of disrupting has fallen so low that he doesn't even think people like him need to go for the big funding anymore (not that he refused it when it came!). He said, "Especially in software, it only takes $30,000 to build anything in software today."

That's a digital disruptor. He's not bound by traditional economics, old-school partnership boundaries, or even antiquated notions of customer privacy. How are you going to compete with someone who thinks -- and acts -- like that?

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Help Forrester Make Its 2012 Customer Experience Predictions!

It’s that time of the year again . . . Most of you are well into your 2012 planning, and at Forrester, we’ve also got our eyes on the year ahead. 

But first, we’re taking a look back. Ron Rogowski and I recently revisited our 2011 customer experience predictions report and chatted about what’s happened over the past 10 months.

In some cases, our predictions were accurate (if we do say so ourselves). For example, we said that tech vendors would engage in an “all-out war to own the customer experience management space” and that it would create a “confusing marketplace that will not shake out in 2011.” We also said that “customer service will gain popularity as a key opportunity for engagement.” Given our ongoing research and client conversations, we think these predictions were spot on.

And on a few points, we missed the mark. When we wrote our last doc, people had just started hacking the Kinect for Xbox 360 to create fun demos like real-time light sabers and digital shadow puppets. We wrote, “In 2011, we'll see companies start to leverage this technology, too, with healthcare (think guided physical therapy exercises) and marketing (a la interactive product demos) diving in first.” Well, we haven’t exactly seen a tsunami of activity in this area. But were we way off? Or did we just jump the gun? Only time will tell!

In either case, the fun continues.

Ron and I are collaborating again on our 2012 CX predictions report — and we want to know what you think. So here’s your chance for fame and fortune — or at least the opportunity to be mentioned in a Forrester report! If your ideas or comments contribute to our final analysis, we’ll add you as a contributor to the research.

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Bring Market Insights Out Of The Shadows

I recently had a discussion with my colleague Richard Evensen about how customer experience (CX) pros draw on the work done by market insights (MI) departments. Our conclusion: In most cases, they don’t. Instead, we often find CX teams doing their own research to understand and improve the experience. This represents a broader phenomenon that we call shadow MI — research commissioned or executed inside of a company without the approval or involvement of MI professionals.

Why do CX leaders rely on shadow MI rather than engage their MI departments for help? Based on our conversations with clients, it’s because MI departments are seen as:

  • Not fast enough. CX pros need quick and continuous feedback from customers in order to actively manage the experience. MI teams aren’t traditionally built to operate at that tempo, and many aren’t comfortable doing so.
  • Not focused on the experience itself. Naturally, CX leaders care most about customers’ interactions with their organizations, but MI teams often focus on other areas, like product development and marketing.
  • Not action-oriented. Due to the previous two points, CX pros often see MI as unable to drive action. In a recent discussion in our online customer experience community, one contributor said, “Customer experience feedback is more operational and immediate than market research.” This perspective leads many CX leaders to treat the two areas as fundamentally different.
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