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.
In the current time of digital disruption, market insights professionals need to know the market their organization plays in well enough to identify the “adjacent possible” but also to understand how receptive their customers are to new offerings. With that in mind, I’ve taken a fresh look at Forrester’s Technographics® segmentation. This segmentation is built on three main components: motivation, income, and technology optimism/pessimism using a proprietary algorithm and is created in 1997 when we first began collecting our Technographics® data to help companies understand and predict changes in the consumer technology landscape. In 1999, Forrester published a book, called 'Now or Never', that covered how companies should use the model.
Recently I was wondering: does the segmentation still hold for current technologies like tablets and can it still help companies understand and predict technology behaviors? For this, I analyzed tablet uptake as well as buying intention of tablet from one of our European surveys by segment:
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.
Successfully reaching online shoppers during the critical holiday season is crucial to the Q4 success of eCommerce businesses. Forrester recently published its “US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2011”; it predicts strong growth despite the current economy. My colleague Sucharita Mulpuru shared in her blog that November and December alone are expected to pull in nearly $60 billion in online revenues in the US, a 15% increase over 2010 and about one-third of the overall volume of online sales for the year.
But what are the drivers for purchasing? How do consumers discover a good deal? Forrester collaborated earlier this year with the eCommerce company GSI Commerce to answer these and other questions and to create a picture of online buyers’ purchase journey in various categories during key periods of the Q4 2010 holiday season across 15 eCommerce sites.
We found in this study that search and email were the most effective tactics in driving sales, and shoppers were heavily influenced by retailers’ marketing efforts during key dates such as Cyber Monday and the Thanksgiving weekend. But in many cases, it's a combination of marketing tactics that makes people buy: More than half of US consumers purchasing products online in the soft goods category experienced two or more marketing touchpoints prior to the completion of their transaction.*