Over the weekend, one of the most reputable online retailers in the US, Zappos, broke the news that its database was hacked and that the information for about 24 million user accounts was breached.
How do stories like this affect consumers’ attitude toward online privacy? In our August 2011 Community Speaks Qualitative Insights report, “Consumer And Online Privacy: How Much Information Is Too Much?” (available for Community Speaks subscribers only), we found that online privacy is one of the most concerning topics in online users’ minds. Two-thirds of US online consumers report being very concerned about the recording and collection of their personal details by websites.
Since 2007, Forrester has been advising companies about how to use its POST— people, objectives, strategy, technology — methodology to develop social media strategies that help them engage with their audiences via social media. Since then, social media uptake has grown enormously, and brands now have a multitude of social platforms from which to choose. Before you decide which platforms to go with, do you actually know where your audience is in the social media world?
Even today, when social media usage is close to mainstream in the US, different target groups still show different behaviors. For example, when you want to target moms, you have to understand what makes them tick online.
Forrester’s Technographics data shows that the majority (71%) of US female Internet users are Joiners and Spectators. They maintain their profiles on social networking sites and actively consume shared content online. This shows that it is important for brands to have a website, a blog, videos on YouTube, and a social network presence. It is also important for brands to update the information on their website or social network profile regularly and make it both informative and entertaining.
Although data nowadays shows that young consumers in particular are moving away from traditional media in their daily media consumption, our Forrester data also shows that traditional media are still powerful means for advertising/promotion. In Roxana Strohmenger’s recent report, “Young Hispanics Lead In Mobile Activity But Don't Trust Mobile Ads Very Much,” she discovers that the two top channels are TV and magazines; American youth trust them twice as much as other online or mobile channels, and ads on mobile phone are being trusted the least. No wonder TV spending continues to top other forms of media in America and continues to grow, according to Nielsen; even search engine giant Google is getting into the TV advertising business by offering unique targeting and measurement capabilities.
One of the responsibilities of my role includes analyzing data in complex ways to help our clients understand how their target groups behave and if there are more relevant ways to segment them based on the results. However, sometimes it just makes sense to take a step back and look at some basic demographic profiles as a starting point for further analysis. We developed a new deliverable that we call Demographic Overview, and we kicked off the series with digital dads, followed by digital moms, and these will soon be complemented with digital natives and digital Seniors.
So why is it important for companies to look at dads? Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that s lightly more than one-third of US online men ages 18 to 50 are parents of a child younger than 18 living with them. Companies need to understand how the digital profile of dads differs from non-dads, as their behaviors influence the tech behaviors of their kids.
Some of our findings include that in general, dads are more likely to use the Internet as a resource, while non-dads are more active in entertainment-focused activities such as social networking. But dads know how to use social media to get their point across: 72% of dads who regularly engage in social activities have posted a review of a product or service on Twitter in the past 12 months, as compared with only 57% of non-dads.
Videos are definitely one of the strongest forms of media in our society nowadays, and there are 48 hours of video uploaded on YouTube per minute: from consumers sharing their creative expressions to companies uploading how-to videos about their products and brands.
These videos help many people in their purchasing process. My colleague recently had to shop for a car, and it’s been interesting to hear about her car shopping journey and how online videos helped her make the ultimate decision. She was interested in one specific car — the 2012 Ford Focus with the Sync with MyFord Touch comes as standard package. The challenge she, and Ford for that matter, encountered was that the majority of car salespeople aren’t that tech-savvy. While they are familiar with the horsepower and the smart-key entry feature, they really struggle to explain how to turn the car into a Wi-Fi hub or how the Sync system can read incoming text messages.
Trying to learn about every available optional feature, my colleague had to turn to the Internet for help. She was able to find demo videos on the Ford Focus website, on YouTube, as well as on her cable TV widgets. These online videos, produced by Ford, auto review sites, as well as tech-savvy online peers, really helped her understand how the optional features of this new product will enhance her ultimate driving experience. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that videos created by other people are the most watched online type of video:
Do you remember the last trip that you took? In this season, chances are that it was only last week or last month. As much as we love to travel, ideally for leisure, we are often overwhelmed by all the planning and coordination that are involved in the process — flights, car rentals, lodging, just to begin with. And if you are truly a planner, you want to add the places to dine, events to attend, and attractions to stop by to the itinerary.
Luckily, we are in the technology-centric era. We have websites, software, and devices that help us make life easier. Two companies that I recently came across, TripIt and Traxo, are designed to take care of travelers’ concerns. Much like TripIt, Traxo aims to simplifying travelers' lives by aggregating all of their travel information in one place, but it does so in a more elegant auto-pull manner versus an email push one. Traxo users just need to link their travel accounts to Traxo via a one-time, upfront process, and then Traxo automatically detects all of their trips, miles, and points and intelligently combines them into a single travel dashboard. It also allows members to share experiences with friends and possibly discover where they might have an overlapping trip with another.
PayPal recently shared its new peer-to-peer payment functionality that allows Android users to pay each other by tapping two Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled devices together. A user enters the transaction information and then taps her phone up against another phone also equipped with the same PayPal widget. After the phones buzz together, the recipient can decide to send or receive money by entering a PIN number.
Sounds very interesting, but are consumers interested in this functionality?
My colleague Charlie Golvin recently blogged about the Google Wallet initiative and its hurdles, one of them being lack of consumer interest. In fact, our Technographics® surveys show that interest in mobile payments is low and has not translated into activity in the US: Less than 6% of US online adults have ever used any type of mobile payment. Over the past three years, Forrester has seen interest in mobile payments continue to grow slowly.
Recently, my colleague Jackie Anderson published a report, Understanding Online Shopper Behaviors, US 2011, and she indicated that 2010 online retail spending in the US had reached $175.2 billion and will grow at double-digit rates at least for another few years.
But among all the items that can be purchased online, some are more popular than others. We have extracted the top three and bottom three items that consumers research online and purchase online based on data from our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey, Q3 2010 (US). The data shows that while online consumers are generally comfortable with both researching and purchasing books, hotel reservations, and airline tickets online, they still prefer to purchase footwear, consumer electronics, and household products from traditional channels.
About one-third of US Internet users aren't shopping online yet. The majority of them do use the Internet to research products but don't feel comfortable making the purchases online. The biggest barrier people mention for not buying online is their need to see things in person.
With more and more devices having the possibility to connect to the Internet wireless, including handheld games, smartphones, game consoles, and tablets, we were interested in the uptake of wireless home networks in Europe. We asked Europeans the following question: "A home network allows you to share an Internet connection among multiple PCs or go online from multiple rooms of the house. Home networks also allow PCs to share a printer or connect with other devices. Do you have a home network?"
Three-quarters of online Europeans with a wireless home network share an Internet connection among multiple PCs, and 17% have already connected their PC to their TV set. Wireless networks are popular among families and multiple-PC households: 86% of wireless home network owners have more than one PC at home, and 40% have children living at home.
While it is no news that China leads the world’s online population, hitting 477 million users as of March 2011, it is interesting to look at the uptake of mobile Internet in urban China and see how that compares with other regions. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that urban China is chasing Japan closely, with 43% of mobile phone users reporting they access the mobile Internet at least monthly. This number doubles that of the US (although the US number represents all Americans, rural and urban), which ranked as the third market in this study. While my gut feeling tells me that urban China’s mobile Internet adoption is comparable to that of the developed markets, this result is still striking because the smartphone market in China did not kick off officially until the end of 2009.
Just last month, China Mobile, the dominant mobile service provider with 60% national market share, announced its plan to lower rates for both calls and data plans by an average of at least 15%. And on Monday, China Daily reported that the number of China’s microbloggers was forecast to reach 100 million this year and will increase to 253 million by 2013.*
The booming popularity of microblogging in China, coupled with the fact that mobile Internet is becoming more affordable, means that urban Chinese will not forgo the convenience that mobile Internet provides. We know another wave of growth is approaching. It is just the matter of how high the wave can reach.