In 2016, consumers of all ages are extremely connected — the average US online adult uses more than four connected devices, three-quarters use a smartphone and more than half use a tablet. Forrester’s annual report on the State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2016, US reveals the most important consumer technology trends that marketers need to know. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for US consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998. We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation.
What did we find this year? All generations use more devices this year than a year ago, but which devices they use depends heavily on age. For example, 84% of Gen Zers (ages 18-27) use a smartphone and laptop, but only 44% use a desktop computer and 49% use a tablet. Their older Millennial counterparts, Gen Yers (ages 28 -36), have higher incomes and in addition to using smartphones and tablets, two-thirds use a tablet. In contrast, three-quarters of the Golden Generation (ages 72+) uses a desktop computer, and only a third use a smartphone.
Within 24 hours of its launch, Pokémon Go broke app download records and user numbers began multiplying by the minute. It wasn’t long before mysterious names like “Jigglypuff” and “Squirtle” peppered daily conversation, stampedes of mobile-obsessed gamers became commonplace, and augmented reality approached a tipping point.
From the mischief caused by Napster to the arrival of the iPhone and the (once improbable) reality of wearables and self-driving cars, our world has evolved – and so have your customers. Since the launch of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® study in 1997, we have had a front-row seat for the dramatic changes in consumer behaviors and attitudes that have upended traditional business models and resulted in a chaotic marketplace where behemoths become bygones.
These changes are not as random as you might think: Forrester’s data analysis reveals five key shifts in consumer behaviors, attitudes, and expectations that fuel customer empowerment: willingness to experiment, device usage, digital/physical integration, information savviness, and self-efficacy. As consumers continue to evolve along these dimensions, business leaders must think differently about how to build and sustain customer relationships – more than simply analyzing historical behavior, demographics, and lifestyles, models of customer understanding must now account for the empowered customer’s expectations, emotional motivations, and contextual decisions.
Therefore, we are excited to launch Forrester’s Empowered Customer Segmentation, a model that measures how customers evolve along the five dimensions of change – and at what rate.
Sports teams have always brought people together as much as divided them — and in today’s age, technology amplifies the drama of fandom. Personal devices play a critical role in how people come together around sports, when fans watch the action unfold, and how they discuss the results.
For example, Forrester’s latest Consumer Technographics® survey data reveals that consumers worldwide have recently accessed sports applications on their mobile phones and tablets:
Our previous research shows that consumers often prefer tablets for longer, more engaging, media-rich experiences — and in fact, Forrester’s mobile behavioral data indicates that consumers spend more time on sports apps when using their tablet rather than their mobile phone. However, technology doesn’t only enable sports enthusiasts to get into the game — oftentimes, it also allows more casual fans to multitask.
Emotions are at the basis of how customers perceive experiences – and why they choose to stay loyal to certain brands. But, not all emotions are equal: Different emotions lead to unique behavioral outcomes depending on context, emotional intensity, and even industry.
For example, in our latest study, my colleague Tom McCann and I measured the emotional impact of CX among banks and retailers in Australia. We discovered that feeling valued is one of the most powerful emotions driving loyalty toward a bank: Australian customers who feel that their bank puts them first are willing to pay a premium for the bank’s experience and are more forgiving when something goes wrong. However, among retail customers, valued is good – but happy is better. Australian retailers that leave customers in a cheery mood are more likely to retain their shoppers and turn their customers into advocates.
And what makes Australian shoppers happy? Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that details in the experience go a long way. For instance, customers are pleased with perceptibly low prices or special deals, stocked inventory, and pleasant customer service reps.
Today in the US, we are gearing up to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with lively music, ice-cold margaritas, colorful clothing — the works. But while many Americans use the day to revel in the trappings of Mexican culture, they often don’t realize that the holiday is actually met with little pomp and circumstance in Mexico itself.
Cinco de Mayo is one of many traditions that have been adopted — and appropriated — across country borders. But the holiday represents a larger concept that applies to people, too: As individuals relocate around the world, they spark cultural variations and build unique identities in their own right.
For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that Mexican-born individuals who now live in the US develop distinct behaviors and attitudes: Not only do these longer-tenured US residents become more comfortable sharing sensitive data (like financial information) online, they also increasingly execute digital transactions:
It’s interesting to note that even though metropolitan Mexico and the US have similar mobile penetration rates, the device profile, technology attitudes, and digital behaviors that characterize Mexican consumers shift after they settle in the US.
The tug of war between reason and emotion has fueled contentious debate since the days of Socrates. But, Socrates and subsequent thinkers didn’t anticipate the influx of data in our contemporary world. Today, our modern media saturation, infinite social connection, and sensor-laden bodies and buildings mean that we create, consult, and critique data more than ever before. How does the vast amount of information – that is now literally at our fingertips – actually influence our daily decisions, and why?
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data proves that individuals are steeped in information and are keenly aware of it. In fact, the insight shows that US online adults increasingly lean on data to make daily choices across spheres of life:
You might be on the fence about your wearable device, but how do you feel about that new toy your child is now playing with?
American youth love gadgets – and now, that includes wearables. While some technologies have a bigger impact on parents (like those intended to keep track of youngsters’ whereabouts), other wearables are helping kids accomplish the same results that adults seek from their own wearable devices: a healthier lifestyle, instant education, and pure entertainment.
Among early technophiles, the products are catching on: Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that 14% of US online youth (ages 12 to 17) currently use a wearable device – the most popular being a Fitbit, followed by the Apple Watch (in the US, nearly half of young mobile users own an Apple iPhone). And, as with many toys or fashions among adolescents, wearable preferences differ significantly by gender:
Next time you find yourself wading through data points, sifting out patterns from the noise, hoping to catch the rare pearl of insight to affix to your business plan, know that you are not alone. Employees worldwide incessantly engage with data, and the companies they work for urgently execute on data-driven strategies in a race for better, faster results. Data pervades the workplace and continues to grow in terms of volume and variety: Research suggests that by 2020, the number of connected devices will more than triple, tens of thousands of data scientist jobs will be in high demand, and the majority of sales decisions will be data-driven.
But using data regularly doesn’t mean that employees truly understand it – or are comfortable with data practices. Specific obstacles prevent individuals – at the top and bottom of the organization – from eliciting effective insight. Forrester’s Business Technographics® and ConsumerVoices MROC data shows that while individuals rely heavily on data for decision-making, they still grapple with key challenges regarding the accuracy, volume, value, and security of the data they use:
There’s little doubt that we are living in a “selfie” culture. The once-mundane activities of exercising at the gym, driving to work, or simply making coffee are now social spectacles that win attention and, in some cases, profit. This impulse to share daily tasks begs us to rethink the meaning of “personal” – and now consumers have even begun to expose sensitive information like their financial behaviors.
Today's channels that bridge social connections are increasingly playing into consumers’ personal financial management tactics. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that the number of US online adults logging into their financial accounts through social media has more than tripled in the past two years. In fact, more consumers are turning to both social channels and their cameras to forge closer interactions with financial services providers overall: