Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Future of Consumer Intelligence conference in San Francisco. This week, when I reflect back on the conference topics and energy, I realize how fitting San Francisco was as the location of the event: Much like the essence of the city itself, the conference speakers and attendees showed ingenuity and optimism around the challenges and opportunities that the market research industry faces. I also thought about the same conference that I attended last May (IIR Market Research Technology Event 2012) and the key themes that I gathered and blogged about: Big data is here, integrating survey and behavioral data is powerful, and behavioral economics has huge implications for market research. For me, the big difference between last year’s conference and this year’s is this: A year ago, market insight professionals were sizing up their challenges with the future of market research. This year, they are taking the bull by the horns and embracing both the challenges and opportunities that technology in market research presents. Here are the main themes I gathered from the event:
If you read my blog regularly, it should come as no surprise that I am an ardent fan of using mobile devices — whether mobile phones or tablets — for market research purposes. I have discussed how consumers are already forcing our hand into the world of mobile and that market insights professionals are not conducting mobile market research but instead are conducting market research in a mobile world.
Given this, I was both delighted and dismayed when attending this year’s ARF Re:think 2013 conference. Why was I delighted? There was a marked increase in the number of talks that focused on the role mobile plays — whether as a research technique or how it plays a significant role in consumers’ lives. Of just the talks I attended, which were a lot, almost 60% of them discussed the role of mobile. And a lot of these “mobile” talks were in the main track session. Talking with colleagues who attended last year, it’s clear that mobile has definitely moved front of mind compared with ARF Re:think 2012.
But I was dismayed that it was still just talk, talk, talk. At the conference, I was surrounded by tablets and smartphones, and people were using them all the time. And while we’re living this mobile life, we’re listening to speeches telling us how we need to start thinking about the role of mobile. Dare I say that we need to do a bit more than just thinking at this point in the game? We clearly have to get our act together soon.
Late last year, Forrester reviewed and ranked the secure websites of the 12 largest retail banks in the US and Canada. The full reports can be found here (US) and here (Canada). Overall, banks' secure websites earned an average score of 70 points (out of 100), demonstrating a level of quality that meets customers expectations but also leaves room for improvements. Here are some of the highlights:
Citi moves to the top of the US rankings with a website overhaul. In July 2011, Citi launched its first tablet banking app. Based in part on insights gleaned from that process, the bank rolled out a newly redesigned secure website, followed by additional digital features and functionality for online bankers, mobile bankers, and tablet bankers. As a result, Citi moved from second-to-last in our ranking to the top spot this year.
RBC pulls off a historic sixth-straight win among Canadian banks' secure sites. For a record sixth year, RBC earned the top spot in our Canadian rankings. Two factors drive RBC’s digital banking success: First, the bank's secure website offers a wide array of secure site features, including eBills, tax management tools, and more; second, the bank continues to innovate, this year adding customizable money management dashboards and new mobile features such as foreign exchange and mortgage payment calculators on its iPhone app.
I am delighted to announce that our annual report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2012, US is now available. This report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for understanding how consumers have changed over the years. For those of you who aren't familiar with our benchmark report, it's based on Forrester's annual Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998 and for which we interview close to 60,000 US online adults. The report covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, device ownership — including penetration data and forecasts for smartphones and tablets — media consumption, retail, social media, and a deep dive on mobile.
We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. Age is a key factor behind consumers’ usage of and attitudes toward technology. However, one finding spans the generations: Consumers of all ages embrace the opportunity to find information and connect with people and brands wherever they are. And while online penetration in the US remains the same as a year ago — at 79% of all adults — the depth of Internet usage has grown; more consumers go online on a daily basis and they connect on more devices. The graphic below illustrates our point: US smartphone owners use their device almost everywhere. They aren’t just connecting at home but wherever they go; in fact, they’re more likely to access the Internet on their phone in a store than in their own kitchen.
Some of you may not be aware that Forrester manages a market research online community (MROC) comprising 1,500 US online consumers recruited from our quantitative Consumer Technographics® surveys. While our Technographics surveys tell us what consumers do, the proprietary data we collect from our MROC completes the story by highlighting why consumers behave that way.
This year, Black Friday saw a record 89 million shoppers, up 3 million from 2011, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. In anticipation of this behemoth shopping day, we recently tasked our online community members with telling us anything and everything about their holiday shopping plans. This past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we fielded a few short surveys to capture what our members were doing at that moment — what they bought, who they bought for, where they bought, and how much of their holiday shopping they accomplished.
At the end of this year, we will post a comprehensive report on our findings for the full holiday season. But to give you a small preview of what’s to come, here are a few “fresh from the field” insights that intrigued us right off the bat.
On both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers primarily shop for their children and spouses. However, consumers are also shopping for themselves as well.
At Forrester, we believe that 2012 is an inflection point for mobile market research. Specifically, 2012 will be considered the “big bang” for a new era in market research — one in which mobile devices will become a critical vehicle to connect, engage, and subsequently understand the consumer. As such, we have recently published two reports that address this very important emerging methodology for Market Insights (MI) Professionals.
The first report, entitled “The Mobile Market Research Landscape 2012,” explains why mobile research will become the heart of market research. Although only a fraction of MI Professionals are currently leveraging mobile, the report reviews the reasons why mobile is here to stay and the advantages of leveraging this approach — such as the ability to capture real-time insights, gain access to hard-to-reach sample, or get more personal with respondents. In addition, given the opportunities to collect different types of data via mobile phones, we provide an overview of the quantitative, qualitative, and behavioral approaches currently available. And, no overview report is complete without a discussion of the current challenges that still face mobile research, such as security and privacy, and our recommendations for what MI professionals need to do to prepare for this shift to this new world.
The second report, entitled “How To Plan For Mobile Online Survey Takers,” addresses a growing issue not often discussed among MI Professionals — the increase of what we call mobile online survey takers. We define this group as:
I am now back from attending this year’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. As always, TMRE produced a content-packed program that addressed a multitude of different topics, ranging from mobile and technology to shopper insights to ROI and measurement and even data analytics and big data. While I attended my fair share of talks focused on emerging and innovative methodologies, I was really interested in the consultative skill development track. This was a track that focused on discussing what client-side Market Insights (MI) Professionals have learned are the best practices for storytelling and data visualization.
One of the talks that I really enjoyed was by Brett Townsend of PepsiCo, whose talk title was aptly named “Treat Your Clients Like Your Kids — Tell Them A Story.” While this isn’t a new idea for MI Professionals — and he discussed well-known takeaways such as “If we can’t tell a story in 20 minutes, then you don’t have a story to tell” — one comment really struck me: Conflict is the engine that drives the story. Our primary goal as MI Professionals is to understand the conflict that consumers are experiencing in their daily lives and to understand what that means to the company or brand.
To focus on the conflict, Brett broke down the story-building process as if we were in the movie business and we were writers writing a script. For each project you work on, you need to understand the following factors:
· Who is the hero? For our purposes, it will always be the consumer.
My colleague Lindsey Colella and I attended the Vision Critical Summit in New York this week and were inspired by how market insights professionals are truly embracing the value of market research online communities (MROCs). Among the emerging and innovative methodologies, this is the one that we are seeing gaining significant traction: The Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report shows that this is the top emerging methodology used by client-side researchers — with 36% currently leveraging it.
What did we learn at the event? In addition to reinforcing MROC best-practice tips like closing the loop with panelists and incentivizing in a relevant way, which Lindsey recently wrote about in her report “Best Practices For Managing A Market Research Online Community,” the following best practices and examples caught our attention:
· Internal marketing is critical. Market insights professionals need to “sell” the value of MROCs to various business units across the organization. One electronics retailer did that by hosting monthly meetings in which the MI team presented all the research collected in the MROC to the cross-function business leaders.
Part of this evolution revolves around enhancing the EFM suite of products and bringing new feedback channels into the mix — like mobile. This goes beyond purely enabling the viewing of online surveys on a mobile browser. It encompasses offering mobile apps, enabling the collection of qualitative data, capturing mobile behavioral data, and even leveraging location to unearth insights about consumers. That is exactly what SMG, an EFM vendor that focuses on customer experience analytics, did by acquiring location analytics market research firm Locately. Confirmit did the same last year by acquiring Techneos to create a stronger mobile offering for its customers.
As an analyst, my job is to examine the emerging research methodology landscape and see what trends are evolving and how market insights professionals are leveraging and integrating these new techniques into their research toolkit. While this type of research is extremely enjoyable, every now and then I am lucky enough to be able to get my hands dirty and play with some of these methodologies. This time around, I got to play with passive mobile behavioral measurement data.
Similar to online behavior tracking, mobile behavior tracking passively records the activities that consumers perform on their mobile phone. With this data, you are able to know, for example, how many inbound and outbound texts are made, when and for how long a person uses an app like Facebook, or how many megabytes of data they downloaded or uploaded. Vendors that provide this tool include Arbitron Mobile, comScore’s MobiLens product, Research Now Mobile (formerly iPinion), and RealityMine (a spin-off company from Lumi Mobile).