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:
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but for marketing and insights professionals, the love between a customer and a brand should be present all year round. Today, building loyal customer relationships is increasingly challenging; it requires effort, patience, and empathy. “Love at first sight” may be a fairytale and few consumers commit to a brand until death do them part, but those companies that forge deeply emotional bonds and align with consumer values gain a competitive edge.
Therefore, professionals striving to foster customer love must understand consumers holistically by answering questions like “What are consumers naturally most passionate about?” “Where are consumers engaging when not with my brand?” and “How do current lifestyles create opportunities to connect with new customers?”
My latest report, which blends Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey, behavioral, qualitative, and social listening data, reveals that US consumers who prioritize their health have a distinct attitude that sparks broader lifestyle choices. “Health-conscious” is not just a descriptor; it is also a driver, as consumer commitment to health stems from a deep need for self-improvement.
Many times, what we want says more about us than what we do. This is why readers are fascinated with news from the Consumer Electronics Show, which gives us an aspirational glimpse at the technology of tomorrow. This is why Google publishes the most frequently searched “how-to questions,” which reveal what people are striving for. It’s also why emerging customer insights methodologies like social listening, which uncover visceral consumer reactions and desires, are gaining traction.
Two weeks ago, people around the world expressed their wishes for 2016 by sharing their New Year’s resolutions online. What do people want this year? Forrester’s analysis of the social conversation shows that physical and mental wellbeing dominated most of the resolutions posted across the globe. But certain geographical differences shed light on varied cultures and attitudes. For example, while US consumers also discussed social causes and career goals, UK consumers mentioned artistic pursuits and relaxation:
The market research industry is built on a fundamental assumption: that any enterprise, product, team, or person can be better than it is today. Researchers mine insights because we are constantly seeking opportunities for greater success and are eager to illuminate the path forward. But researchers aren’t the only ones doing this; although it’s our profession, people around the world share this drive for improvement. These sentiments are at their peak today on New Year’s Eve as we reflect on the highs and lows of the year behind us and resolve to do something better in the year ahead.
Seeking improvement is part of human nature, but in some cases, it’s demanded of us. In the business world, companies that set higher standards also set new consumer expectations and secure customer loyalty. For instance, our Consumer Technographics® data shows that Amazon offers one of the most loved customer experiences across the globe because it provides an unparalleled sense of emotional satisfaction:
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that there was a new release in the Star Wars saga this week. I’m not a fan of science fiction and have somehow managed never to have seen a Star Wars movie in my life — so all of the discussion about what will happen to Luke, Leia, or the Jedi in ‘The Force Awakens’ is completely lost on me. But what I do find extremely interesting is the huge passion of my colleagues and friends to see this movie in a cinema — and as quickly as possible. In the US, Star Wars opens in 4,100 theaters and the movie is a leader in advance ticket sales around the world. And Star Wars is just one of the big blockbusters of 2015 — in fact, analysts expect this year to be Hollywood's biggest box-office year ever.
When we look at our North American Consumer Technographics data, we see that movies certainly have a place in US online consumers’ video behaviors; watching movies in theaters is just behind watching free and paid online video services like Netflix and Hulu.
A week ago, my family crowded around our living-room TV to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and I couldn’t help thinking about the ironic clash between tradition and innovation: On the one hand, we mirrored that classic tableau of the family gathered around a single source of entertainment; on the other, our smart TV offered a distinctly modern viewing experience.
This fine balance between tradition and innovation is widespread — especially in regards to the evolution of TV media. Our Consumer Technographics® data shows that US consumers’ love for TV is unwavering, but the ways in which viewers access content are rapidly changing. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have been catalysts for this change; now Comcast’s recently launched Stream TV opens a new avenue for TV consumption that lives somewhere between cable and Internet properties. With Stream TV, Comcast is targeting a growing group of TV lovers who don’t actually have a TV:
Back in 2013, we conducted a study to figure out how the “summer of Snowden” was affecting consumer opinion on privacy. A year later, we combined that data with a current pulse of consumer sentiment, and found that mainstream attitude signaled imminent behavior change.
Fast forward another year: Today, US presidential candidates are talking about privacy and personal data protection during the pre-primary season. We have recently witnessed three more major data breaches affecting millions of Americans. The adblocking debate is at fever pitch, while Internet giants make privacy a point of differentiation. So, we ran our study a third time, and incorporated behavioral tracking data into the methodology.
Our findings? Consumers are more willing than ever to 1) walk away from your business if you fail to protect their data and privacy; 2) adopt technologies like tracker-blockers and VPNs to limit their exposure to data misuse; and 3) extend their protective actions to the physical realm. And, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that this story pertains to millennials and their older counterparts alike:
I always love this time of year. Here in Cambridge, Mass., we’re at a turning point: With the close of the World Series and the start of daylight savings, we face the reality that evenings are colder, nights come faster, and the holidays are imminent. With summer escapes behind us and holiday shopping ahead of us, recent media stories made me think about one phenomenon that does not change with the seasons: the relentless efficacy of advertising.
For example, REI’s latest ad, which urges consumers to forego Black Friday, may look like commercial suicide at first glance, but don’t underestimate the effects of an unexpected message. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that while ads may not directly spark a purchase, they immediately enhance awareness and can spark consumer behavior that subsequently drives consumption:
And this data only quantifies the advertising effects of which consumers are aware; more often than not, advertising has a deeper, subconscious impact on consumer behavior and attitudes.
For US online adults, wearable technology is no longer the stuff of myth. Over the past year alone we’ve witnessed the launch of the Apple Watch and iterations on early wearable products. Wearable devices are now making their media cameo across a variety of channels and topics ranging from politics to pop culture.
According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data, around one-fifth of US online consumers use a wearable gadget. While the adoption rate is higher among young, wealthy males, wearables are already breaking into segments that aren’t typically considered among the early adopters. Most individuals tend to use the technology for health- and fitness-related activity; however, consumers demonstrate a growing interest in using wearables for several different functions:
“It takes a village” – but when it comes to building smart cities, it takes far more than that. Developing smart cities requires strategic partnerships, creative business models, change management – and according to my latest report, co-authored with my colleague Jennifer Belissent – citizen buy-in. In order for smart city technology to take hold, governments must incorporate citizens’ perspectives into their strategy long before giving their plans the green light.
Gathering citizen perspectives on so nascent a concept is a classic challenge; however, current attitudes and behaviors signal citizen readiness for smart cities. For instance, as US and UK online adults become aware of smart city solutions, they grow deeply intrigued. And, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey and behavioral tracking data, online adults’ current device activities lend themselves to participating as engaged digital citizens:
US and UK citizens are equipped to interact with their community and governments through new technology, which suggests a readiness for smart city applications and services. However, citizens are conscious of the fact that this smart city sophistication comes with tradeoffs, like threats to data privacy and the risks of relying on one digital system.