Fresh Off The Press: What Did Consumers Do On Black Friday And Cyber Monday?

Some of you may not be aware that Forrester manages a market research online community (MROC) comprising 1,500 US online consumers recruited from our quantitative Consumer Technographics® surveys. While our Technographics surveys tell us what consumers do, the proprietary data we collect from our MROC completes the story by highlighting why consumers behave that way.

This year, Black Friday saw a record 89 million shoppers, up 3 million from 2011, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. In anticipation of this behemoth shopping day, we recently tasked our online community members with telling us anything and everything about their holiday shopping plans. This past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we fielded a few short surveys to capture what our members were doing at that moment — what they bought, who they bought for, where they bought, and how much of their holiday shopping they accomplished.

At the end of this year, we will post a comprehensive report on our findings for the full holiday season. But to give you a small preview of what’s to come, here are a few “fresh from the field” insights that intrigued us right off the bat.

On both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers primarily shop for their children and spouses. However, consumers are also shopping for themselves as well.

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The Data Digest: The Information Sources That US Online Holiday Shoppers Use

In the recently published report “US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2012” Forrester estimates that US holiday season online retail sales will grow 15% from 2011 to 2012. While the number of US online holiday shoppers is expected to grow very little compared with last year, the average US online shopper will spend about 12% more than last year. But, as my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru shares in her blog on this topic, consumers are harder to impress this year. Satisfying the expectations of online shoppers during the holiday season is crucial to the Q4 success of retailers.

What kind of information sources are US online shoppers using most when considering products for purchase? Forrester's North American Technographics® Retail Online Benchmark Recontact Survey, Q3 2012 (US) shows that easy access to shipping costs is extremely important, followed by product ratings and reviews from other customers, and product information from retailers.

This holiday season, consumers are more likely than ever to visit a website before buying gifts; in fact, it will be the channel of choice for many. Retailers already go big on promotions, but if they don't have their basics in order — such as search, navigation, and checkout — customers will quickly move on to a competitor to find that great deal.

Our World Is Already A Mobile World, But Is Your Research Mobile?

At Forrester, we believe that 2012 is an inflection point for mobile market research. Specifically, 2012 will be considered the “big bang” for a new era in market research — one in which mobile devices will become a critical vehicle to connect, engage, and subsequently understand the consumer. As such, we have recently published two reports that address this very important emerging methodology for Market Insights (MI) Professionals.

The first report, entitled “The Mobile Market Research Landscape 2012,” explains why mobile research will become the heart of market research. Although only a fraction of MI Professionals are currently leveraging mobile, the report reviews the reasons why mobile is here to stay and the advantages of leveraging this approach — such as the ability to capture real-time insights, gain access to hard-to-reach sample, or get more personal with respondents. In addition, given the opportunities to collect different types of data via mobile phones, we provide an overview of the quantitative, qualitative, and behavioral approaches currently available. And, no overview report is complete without a discussion of the current challenges that still face mobile research, such as security and privacy, and our recommendations for what MI professionals need to do to prepare for this shift to this new world.

The second report, entitled “How To Plan For Mobile Online Survey Takers,” addresses a growing issue not often discussed among MI Professionals — the increase of what we call mobile online survey takers. We define this group as:

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Learning The ABCs Of Storytelling — Focus On The Conflict

I am now back from attending this year’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. As always, TMRE produced a content-packed program that addressed a multitude of different topics, ranging from mobile and technology to shopper insights to ROI and measurement and even data analytics and big data. While I attended my fair share of talks focused on emerging and innovative methodologies, I was really interested in the consultative skill development track. This was a track that focused on discussing what client-side Market Insights (MI) Professionals have learned are the best practices for storytelling and data visualization.

One of the talks that I really enjoyed was by Brett Townsend of PepsiCo, whose talk title was aptly named “Treat Your Clients Like Your Kids — Tell Them A Story.” While this isn’t a new idea for MI Professionals — and he discussed well-known takeaways such as “If we can’t tell a story in 20 minutes, then you don’t have a story to tell” — one comment really struck me: Conflict is the engine that drives the story. Our primary goal as MI Professionals is to understand the conflict that consumers are experiencing in their daily lives and to understand what that means to the company or brand.

To focus on the conflict, Brett broke down the story-building process as if we were in the movie business and we were writers writing a script. For each project you work on, you need to understand the following factors:

·         Who is the hero? For our purposes, it will always be the consumer.

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The Data Digest: Profiling Chinese Luxury Shoppers

One of my responsibilities at Forrester is editing our Technographics® research deliverables globally. In recent years, we have regularly published reports on consumer behaviors in emerging markets, including the BRIC countries. One aspect of this global data really intrigues me: the success of luxury brands and the profile of luxury goods buyers in these markets.

China has emerged as one of the world's largest luxury goods markets: According to the World Luxury Association, shoppers from Japan represent 29% of the world market share of luxury goods sales; China, 27%; Europe, 18%; and the US, just 14%.

How are Chinese luxury goods buyers different from their non-luxury goods buyer counterparts? Forrester's Technographics® data shows that Chinese luxury goods buyers are similar in terms of age and gender to non-luxury buyers, but they tend to have higher incomes. However, they differ significantly with regards to lifestyle and social attitudes.

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Ninety Percent Of The Online Population Will Regularly Watch Online Video By 2017

The music industry in Europe has had a traumatic time, losing more than 31% of its revenue in the past five years to piracy. Given the increasing digitalization of content in the music, video, gaming, and newspaper industries, our recently published Forrester Research Online Paid Content Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (EU-7) maps content’s evolution from an audience, payer, and revenue perspective for each of these categories and for each of seven European countries. Here are some high-level results for the four categories:

Music.With more than 35% of music revenues in Europe coming from digital, spending on physical music will soon be overtaken by its digital counterpart. Although digital music use in Europe still lags behind the US (where digital revenues exceeded physical revenues for the first time in 2012), Forrester found that more than 50% of online Europeans already listen to online music regularly.

Video.Video is the fastest-growing digital content category; we forecast that more than 90% of the online population will regularly watch online video by 2017. Online video audience penetrations will rise significantly as video on demand, pay per view, and catchup TV become mainstream. And with pay-TV penetrations in the EU-7 nations considerably lower than in the US, there’s more scope for paid online video to grow.

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