Yesterday I attended the first day of the ESOMAR Shopper Insights Conference 2011 in Brussels, and I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative thinking by the presenters, both in the methodologies used and in the way they look at the Market Insights profession.
There were a number of presentations on innovative methodologies, such as eye-tracking. All of them had cool videos to share and gave insights into how these methodologies can be used to better understand shopper behaviors. The presentation that really stuck with me, however, was from Stephanie Grootenhuis, from Kraft Foods International, who talked about the “Incite to Action” initiative.
She came on stage, and said: "All the presentations until now have talked about understanding shoppers better and the difficulties you encounter when doing (global) research. But to be honest, that's not my biggest challenge. What my team struggles with is HOW to share our knowledge and communicate our findings effectively into the organization."
In July 2010, we posted a Data Digest that shows that almost half of US online males and 42% of online females read consumer ratings and reviews at least monthly. Well, what types of decisions are reviews helping these consumers to make?
Our Technographics® data shows that, as most would expect, more than half of the consumers who check ratings and reviews use them to help make more complex decisions such as a car, TV, or refrigerator. However, these are not the only types of decisions consumers are looking to reviews for — in fact, most check reviews to help with a variety of decisions — from entertainment decisions to making purchases for their jobs.
When we look at this data by generation, it is no surprise that Gen Yers are more likely to use online reviews across most of the decision types that we ask about compared to the overall US population. What is interesting is how dependent they are on online reviews when it comes to entertainment choices (44%) and purchasing ongoing services (41%). And although young consumers lead with using ratings and reviews, it is interesting to see that Seniors that are using ratings and reviews show similar behaviors compated to the total US population for most categories -- apart from the job related one.
With tablet sales projected to grow from 10.3 million in 2010 to 44 million in 2015, we wanted to understand what will be fueling this growth. Since 18- to 24-year-olds will be the ones growing up accustomed to this technology, we honed in on this demographic to see what it is about the tablets that excites them the most. Our Technographics® data shows that they want a tablet for a variety of reasons, but what they are most attracted to is its portability, and they are much more driven than US online consumers in general by its “fun factor.”
With the increasing uptake of technology and online shopping, consumers are getting more comfortable using technology in the store, as well. Data from our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey shows that consumers like to be informed while they are shopping — they want to be able to access product information instantaneously, and they want to be more independent shoppers (without the help of sales personnel).
The items at the top of the list are those that allow consumers to find product information quickly — with majority of respondents reporting that they found in-store price scanning and computer kiosks valuable (84% and 66%, respectively). The fact that self-checkouts were the second most valuable in-store technology exemplifies how consumers want to be more independent while shopping: It shows that they are willing to take on that responsibility themselves in order to get in and out of the stores quickly.
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:
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.
Forrester’s Technographics® shows that online European consumers have lost their trust in traditional media as an information source. A low 30% of online Europeans state that they trust the TV as an information source. The traditional media that Europeans see as most trustworthy are radio and newspapers. About one-third agree that they trust newspapers as an information source. Funnily enough, this number varies significantly across European countries: 45% of French Internet users trust newspapers as an information source — a number that is almost three times as high as the 16% quoted by their UK counterparts!
In fact, consumers trust consumer reviews and price comparison Web sites more than manufacturers' Web sites. But what does this trust mean? How influential are consumer reviews in the purchasing process? About one in 10 online consumers takes consumer reviews specifically into consideration when making a major purchase. Information sources that influence them most in the purchasing process are going to the shop (34%), talking with family and friends (24%), and the retailer’s Web site (13%). And although we see some differences in the percentages reported by country, these top three are the same everywhere.
Location-based social networks (LBSNs), apps that are downloaded on a mobile phone, offer organizations a possibility of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 4% of US online adults have ever used location-based social networks, such as FourSquare and Brightkite, on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week. Although the uptake is limited to a small group, this doesn't mean that LBSNs are not useful.
Looking at the profile of location-based app users, we see that they are:
Influential.Geolocation users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
An interesting target group.They are typically young adult males with college degrees.
Heavy mobile researchers.They are also far more likely to search for information about businesses and products, as well as read customer ratings/reviews of products and services
Many people consume content from multiple media channels simultaneously (see for example this recent post on European youth), but does the content they’re looking at actually overlap? We looked into our Technographics® data to see what consumers are doing on their computers while watching a TV show and we found that the top four activities have nothing to do with what they are watching.
Because consumers are using their PC for activities that require more attention than watching TV – which is mostly a passive activity — it’s questionable how much of the TV content they are even registering. Almost one-third of consumers are playing games on their computers while watching television, and one-quarter are doing schoolwork. Has the TV just become background noise?
We also see that 44% of consumers are communicating with friends via social networks, chat, and email on topics that are not related to the show. So consumers are interested in content online, but not necessarily in parallel with the broadcasting of a show. Market researchers need to develop a research plan that helps companies understand how and when consumers watch TV, and when they are checking out online content related to the company's products or brand, in order to build a marketing strategy that reinforces the message across channels.
A recent Forrester report "US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2010" forecasts online retail sales during the 2010 US holiday season to grow 16% year over year. Consumers are showing a willingness to spend this season, with affluent consumers driving the most growth. Respondents to our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey, Q3 2010 (US) plan to complete 37% of their November/December holiday shopping through an online channel, up from 30% last year.
Let’s have a look at the post-mortem of the 2009 US holiday season to understand what is really important to customers: In spite of the economic slowdown last year, nearly three-quarters of US online holiday buyers maintained or increased their spending in the online channel compared with 2008. Online holiday buyers are buying more online for the same reasons that the online channel is a successful and growing component of retail in general: convenience, selection, and price.