The Data Digest: The Value Of Company Values

Anjali Lai

We are notoriously bad at knowing ourselves. Science shows that we are not quite as beautiful, or smart, or ethical as we would like to think. As a result, our self-proclaimed beliefs do not always translate into action; often, we say we’ll do “the right thing” but (consciously or not) we’ll proceed to do the opposite. Are we really nothing more than delusional creatures of habit bound to repeat our mistakes? No – actually, far from it. Certain individuals are hyperaware of their values and follow through on decisions and actions accordingly. Although a small group, these consumers spark awareness, change their behavior, demand transparency, and inspire trends.

My latest report examines what, when, and why consumers buy, when values are central to their decision-making process. In my research, I found that, despite limited knowledge and patterns of self-deceit, consumers want to purchase from companies that embrace ethical practices. More broadly, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of company values and are opening their wallets when company values resonate with theirs:

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The Data Digest: Customer Service Has Gone Digital

Anjali Lai

In the past week, I have booked a flight using a travel voucher, questioned a charge on my credit card bill, and bought an electric toothbrush. What do these experiences have in common? In each case, I had a relatively complex question and I received a helpful answer – without talking to anyone in person or by phone. Instead, with a little online research, I was able to identify which blackout dates applied to my travel voucher, clear the charge on my credit card bill, and learn the best settings for my toothbrush.

Essentially, I sought answers immediately by turning to digital channels first. In this regard, I’m not the only one. For the first time in the history of our research, more US online adults report using company websites than speaking with agents by phone when resolving customer service needs. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that 76% of consumers turn to FAQ pages, and usage across other digital channels is growing notably:

The fact that technology is disrupting the way in which customers seek information is not merely a trend – it’s at a tipping point. In the age of the customer, consumers expect accurate answers with greater speed and less friction than before; as companies offer them detailed online content with increasingly effective navigation strategies, consumers will embrace self-service digital channels at the expense of offline communication.

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US B2B eCommerce Will Reach $1 Trillion

Susan Wu

B2B eCommerce is growing, and it’s growing quickly. In fact, at Forrester we estimate that it will reach more than $1 trillion in the US by 2020, double the size of B2C eCommerce. B2B buyers are rapidly gearing their researching and purchasing activities toward true digital platforms. B2B sellers are similarly shifting their resources toward providing an eCommerce portal to better reach and engage with their customers. 

Forrester's ForecastView team recently conducted a pioneering study on the B2B eCommerce market where we explored nine product categories and their evolution toward online buying. We define B2B eCommerce as a digital, transactional exchange between companies that takes place over a website. We exclude spending that flows through traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) channels or back channels.  The majority of B2B spending takes place through wholesaler and distributor channels, which provide a varying array of value-added services such as storage, packaging, sorting, and labeling. The future landscape of B2B commerce is changing on several fronts that could potentially impact how wholesalers and distributors traditionally do business, especially online: 

  • There’s an increased need for automation. As independent establishments continue to merge and give way to larger firms, companies seek to cut distribution costs through their increasing purchase power and economies of scale (see figure below). This alleviates the need for distributors and wholesalers but requires a more automated mechanism to handle larger volumes.
     
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The Data Digest: Tracking Consumers’ Smartphone Activities During The 2015 Super Bowl Event

Nicole Dvorak

The 2015 Super Bowl had 114 million viewers – making it the most watched television event in US history according to Nielson data. Forrester used its Technographics 360 approach, which combines multiple data sources, to understand how consumers used their smartphones on the big day.

Forrester tracked the smartphone behavior of 879 US online smartphone owners (18+) during the dates surrounding the Super Bowl as well as on the day itself. To better understand these mobile behaviors and add further context, Forrester engaged a group of 157 US participants (18+) in our ConsumerVoices online community. Finally, to capture the nature of public conversation overall, we leveraged social listening to explore topics and sentiment throughout the day across US consumers’ social media posts.

We found that on the day of Super Bowl 2015, consumers used the same apps that they do on a normal day, but certain mobile sites saw large increases in traffic. In particular, sports, food/drink, reference, health/wellness, shopping, and weather websites saw more visitors – in some cases, double the usual traffic.

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The Data Digest: Navigating The Fragmented Path To Purchase

Nicole Dvorak

The relentless winter in Boston has finally come to an end! Encouraged by the lukewarm temperatures and sight of grass (which we haven’t seen here in months), I set my sights on a new pair of running shoes. Now, where to begin? I can get suggestions from my coworkers, peruse user reviews on my phone on the bus ride home, actually touch and feel the product in person at a sports shop nearby, watch video ads at home on my tablet . . . the list goes on.

The rise in the adoption of mobile devices has made the consumer purchase journey — which already involves multiple channels, devices, and interaction points — even more complex and fragmented. To help professionals understand how and why consumers use mobile devices along the multistep purchase path, we used Forrester’s Technographics® 360 methodology, which combines behavioral tracking data, online survey data, and market research online community responses. We found that:

  • Almost two-thirds of consumers still use traditional methods to first learn about products —offline sources commonly provide the first impression.
  • Smartphones enable customers to source pre-purchase product information right from the palm of their hand, but few actually make the purchase using a mobile device
  • Mobile devices give consumers flexibility if they choose to engage with a brand or retailer post-purchase —from email and text messages to online communities and social networks.
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$70 Billion In Offline Sales In India Will Be Web-Influenced By 2019

Less than 1% of total retail sales in India were made online in 2014, but the impact of the Web on offline sales is much greater. The emergence of smartphones and the mobile Internet is playing a much bigger role in influencing the purchase decisions of online users. Customers are using them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This user behavior is making the Web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. It is most influential in categories like computer hardware and software, media, footwear, apparel, and consumer electronics, as these contain a greater number of online-savvy retailers. We recently published the Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (India), which reveals that:

  • $70 billion in offline sales in India will be influenced by the Web in 2019. This is more than twice the volume of total online retail sales in India, emphasizing the importance of the Web as a way for retailers to connect with customers.
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Reflections on Qual360

Anjali Lai

Two weeks ago, I spoke at the Qual360 conference in Atlanta, hosted by the Merlien Institute. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I typically fold qualitative insight into a diverse research mix, so I went to the conference with a broad view of market research methodologies. But after connecting with qualitative researchers, marketers, academics, and thought leaders from around the globe, I left Qual360 with a renewed appreciation for the fundamental importance of qualitative insight, its deep impact on key business decisions, and its differentiated value in today’s data-driven culture. Here are a few of my takeaways from Qual360:

  • In a world where everything is getting faster, qualitative research must go slower. As Anita Watkins from TNS and Emily Williams of Newell Rubbermaid put it, qualitative research is not about testing, it is about illuminating context and understanding evolving beliefs. That means qualitative insight can’t be commoditized and sold with the promise of fast, bite-size deliveries. The true value of qualitative insight lies not in the verbatim data but in the accurate analysis of those words in the context of social, environmental, psychological, and emotional depth.
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How Much Are Bad Customer Experiences Hurting Your Business? Forrester’s CX Index™ Knows

Roxana Strohmenger

We have all experienced it — a bad customer experience. Websites like Consumerist.com describe in empathy-inducing detail the “turmoil” that consumers experience, whether it be a customer having tape-recorded proof of a promise of service but the company stating they made no such promise or a company cancelling thousands of reward accounts due to insufficient proof of age, despite the inability of the customer to insert the required information.

When reading these stories, I always wonder, “Why is Company X not getting it?” Bad customer experiences are financially damaging to a company. However, what I have learned over the years, especially when talking to my colleagues on Forrester’s CX team, is that fixing customer experience is hard work. Customer experience requires sustainable discipline, investment, and a repeatable system of measurement — and most companies do not know where to start or how to get better.

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Five Ways To Invest In The Future Of Online Retail

Michael O'Grady

Forrester’s retail forecasts chart how the changing nature of consumer behavior will have an impact on online and offline retail sales over the next five years. During a recent webinar, Forrester detailed five key trends that the forecasts have revealed:

  • Worldwide online retail sales are growing and varied. Asia Pacific is the world’s largest online market; it’s more than twice the size of North America. But online retail in India and China is very different. When considering your online investments, you must take into account not just retail market size but also supply (like organized retail), consumer demand, and infrastructure maturity.
  • Online buyers are spending more and in more categories. In mature markets like the US, online growth is coming from existing buyers spending more online. The typical online buyer has doubled the number of categories from which they buy online over the past five years.
  • Web-influenced sales are greater than online sales. In Western Europe, the Web will influence 45% of offline sales by 2020. Although 93% of retail sales in Western Europe were offline in 2014, an online presence is critical to retailer success — as web-influenced sales were more than three times larger than online sales.
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Introducing The Forrester Readiness Index For Digital Marketing

Jitender Miglani
The dictionary defines “readiness” as the state of being fully prepared for something. It is easy to compare how well prepared companies are for digital marketing by looking at their digital marketing staff strength as a percentage of their total marketing staff and at their digital marketing spend as a percentage of their total marketing spend. More-prepared marketers prioritize digital in their marketing planning. More-prepared marketers run best-in-class digital marketing programs and communicate with the customers across multiple devices. More-prepared marketers measure how well their digital programs accomplish their business goals and how channels work together to accomplish a desired outcome. 
 
In the past, Forrester has developed tools and frameworks that help firms assess their digital marketing maturity. Forrester has now launched a new research framework: the Forrester Readiness Index (FRI) for digital marketing. This framework is a quantitative assessment that provides insights into the digital marketing environment and available opportunity for 55 countries across the globe through 23 quantitative variables.
 
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