Last Sunday my washing machine broke down. And for a family with young children, a washing machine is right up there with shelter and food in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
As the shops are closed on Sundays in the Netherlands, I turned to the Internet to look for a new one. And because I wasn't very satisfied with my old brand, I was looking for another with similar features but (hopefully) better quality. Within minutes I was completely lost in washing cycles, special programs, and all the other fancy features washing machines have nowadays. I clicked picture after picture, trying to enlarge to see the controls, with little success. But I was saved by video. I came across a site that shows a video of each of the products they sell — how they work, what they do, the control panel, explaining what the fancy features mean, and so on. This information, together with the price, helped me decide which washing machine to buy (at that site, of course).
At the end of 2010, we published a blog post about the results of our annual US “Understanding The Need Of The Changing Consumer” report, in which we reported that for the first time ever the average time US consumer reports spending online is the same as what they report spending watching offline TV. As the data is self-reported it's different from the metrics collected by Nielsen or comScore, but it tells a very important story that is coming directly from the mouths of consumers: In their minds, time spent with offline and online media is split equally.
However, this discussion came at a time when the iPad had only been launched for about six months and worldwide there were less than 15 million iPads sold. At the end of 2011, we conducted a quantitative Technographics® study and ran a qualitative project in our Community Speaks community to better understand: the relationship among tablets, laptops, and TV; how consumers are currently using the Internet and TV; and how they’d like to do so in the future. Forrester's Technographics data shows that many consumers who own a laptop or tablet use that to go online while watching television:
I’m sure you’ve noticed from the latest data digests that I'm really in a mobile mood, but there's just so much going on with mobile globally! Last week, I was at a research conference on “Mobile Research in a Mobile World”; it presented many interesting case studies on how to use mobile for research purposes in both developed and developing markets.
One of the most intriguing presentations was by Mikhail Zarin from Mobiety and Artem Tinchurin from Tiburon Research. They shared the challenges they encounter with doing research in Russia and how adding mobile adds a layer of complexity with regards to questionnaire design, engagement, and sample management.
This reminded me about a report I recently worked on with a colleague called “The Introduction To The Russian Consumer.” My colleague is from Russia, and she taught me that many consumers pay their bills or top up their phones at machines that take cash. And these machines also act as eCommerce platforms: You can use them to purchase airline tickets, for example. During their speech at the mobile research conference, Mikhail and Artem shared how they use these machines to ask people to participate in research. Although response rates are low, overall participation is quite good because there are so many ATMs.
Recently, I've been editing some reports on how consumers are using their mobile phones and how that has changed in the past couple of years. We only have to think back to the Nokia 6510 or Motorola flip phones that we were using a few years ago to see how the introduction of smartphones has changed our world. In many countries, people spend more time texting and doing other data-related activities on their phone than using it for actual voice calls.
And in many countries, the impact of mobile uptake and its evolution has been even bigger and more different than in the US and Europe. In the West, mobiles are often an addition to a PC or game console; in many developing countries, a mobile phone is the only device that most consumers own. This is reflected in the activities for which they use their mobile. For example, Forrester's Technographics® studies — involving 333,000 respondents in 18 countries — shows that Indian, Chinese, and Mexican mobile phone owners use their phones more to listen to music and play games than their European and US counterparts. [Note: this graphic shows selected activities from a list of possible activities]
On April 2nd I'm attending the TEDx event in Maastricht, the Netherlands, which is dedicated to healthcare. Given my market insights background, this may sound a bit out of my league. But you're mistaken. Of course, the healthcare element is sometimes a bit alien to me, but healthcare is not just about curing disease — it's also about culture, technology, and consumer behavior. And those elements are very familiar to me as market researcher.
Last year the event got me very energized. It's great to see how technology can help people in very difficult situations. I listened to e-patient Dave, a cancer patient who talked about how he used patient support communities like epatients.net to better understand his illness; he has since become a noted activist for healthcare transformation through participatory medicine and personal health data rights. And Lucien Engelen advocated crowdsourcing to create a map of defibrillators (AED devices) globally. (Note: you can download the app here.)
We know that consumers are ready for healthcare-related activities on their mobile phones. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that a third of smartphone owners use their phone for healthcare-related activities, ranging from tracking what they eat to medication text alerts.
My colleague Josh Bernoff recently published a report called 'The Splinternet Engagement Index." The idea behind this index is that it's getting harder and harder for companies to keep up with the pace of technology developments. Your customers now live in the splinternet — the fragmented world of web, social, video, and mobile touchpoints. Consumers want to reach you across all these touchpoints, but you can't afford to be everywhere.
The Splinternet Engagement Index is a single tool that measures customers' engagement with each of the four touchpoints and identifies how likely a group of customers is to demand connections across multiple touchpoints. First, the index measures consumer engagement with each touchpoint (based on a list of eight activities per touchpoint); it then scores the cross-touchpoint engagement.
Recently I bought myself a tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 to be precise, and since I brought it home my three children regularly “borrow” it to play games. Games like Bunny Shooter, Shoot the Apple, and World of Goo are among their favorites. But when possible (and allowed), they prefer playing games on the PC. Second choice is the Nintendo Wii, at the moment they mainly play Skylanders and Just Dance. The only game device that hasn't been touched for a while now is the Nintendo DS.
Although uptake of tablets is growing in Europe, the installed base is still much lower than for PCs, Wii, PlayStation, or Xbox. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that about one-third of European online adults use a PC to play games or own an Xbox 360, a Sony PlayStation3, or a Nintendo Wii.
The New York Times recently published an article based on a Forrester report (Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement) about the uptake of smartphones worldwide in the years to come. And for 2011 it was estimated that just under 500 million smartphones were shipped. Knowing the drivers behind the growth of smartphones gives businesses confidence in mobile technology investment — even when uptake is currently still limited.
In the US today, Consumer Technographics® data shows that mobile usage is still far from mature in many industries. Take the financial industry as an example: 21% of US online adults with a mobile phone do any form of mobile banking versus 73% of US online adults who do online banking. When looking at the different generations, we see that younger generations, who are more likely to be early smartphone adopters, dominate in mobile banking.
As part of our Demographic Overview series, we just published Digital Natives: A Demographic Overview; previously, we published research on digital dads and digital moms. For readers who haven’t heard the term before, Digital Natives are the individuals currently ages 12 to 17, and they will soon become the most sophisticated consumers in the digital world. Forrester defines Digital Natives as “individuals whohave grown up in the age of technology and cannot imagine a life without computers, cell phones, and social networking.”
With the increasing numbers of these Digital Natives, it is imperative that companies get to know them — and the earlier the better. They adopt digital technology faster than older generations; they can’t imagine a life without digital “essentials”; and they combine these digital activities in sophisticated ways.
For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that boys, on average, spend 6.1 hours playing video games per week, and when they have discussions on social networks, video games are the No. 1 topic. Moreover, despite having little disposable income yet, more than one-third of Digital Natives have either researched or purchased a product or service online in the past three months.
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.