As the importance of technology to consumers continues to grow, pretty much anyone working for a company that wants to improve their customer experience needs to understand consumers’ technology behaviors. Questions companies ask include: “How did US consumers’ technology use change in 2014?” “Who are the early adopters of wearable devices?” “Are older adults using digital media?” “Are Millennials really ready to cut the cord?” These are just a few of the questions we answer in our newly released report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2014, US. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Consumer Technographics® online benchmark surveythat we've been fielding since 1998.
Every time I download a new app to my smartphone, it bombards me with requests for personal details like my contacts, my location, my email, and my photos – followed by a request, “Name of App would like to send you push notifications.” After it’s asked for all those details, I almost always choose “Don’t Allow.”
And I’m not alone. Forrester’s Q2 2014 US 3D Panel Online Survey shows that US smartphone owners are also selective when it comes to the apps they choose to allow push notifications; about six in 10 only accept push notifications from a select number of apps, while 17% don’t accept them from any app at all. Why are consumers so discriminating? Because more often than not, people find these unsolicited app notifications are irrelevant, too frequent, and, most of all, annoying. If I were to allow push notifications from every app I use each month, there wouldn’t be a quiet hour in my day. How can companies create a better experience and use push notifications to deliver added value to their consumers?
As I’m writing this blog post on December 30, I don’t yet know how many messages will be sent on New Year’s Eve this year. But looking at the data from recent years, we can expect a huge number of good wishes to be shared digitally during the final minutes of 2014 and the early hours of 2015: WhatsApp processed 18 billion messages on New Year’s Eve 2012 and 54 billion on December 31, 2013!
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp show similar levels of uptake at the European level, but we see surprising variations at the country level. For example, WhatsApp clearly dominates the messaging landscape in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, while Facebook Messenger leads in the UK, France, and Sweden.
According to App Annie, messenger service Snapchat is among the top 10 most downloaded apps in the US right now. Competitor WhatsApp lags behind in number of downloads, bouncing between the top 20 and top 30. But just because users are downloading an app does not mean that they are using it. In fact, Forrester’s US Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study shows that each user’s top five most used apps represent 84% of the total time spent using apps*. Just a handful of apps command a large majority of users’ attention. So number of downloads only tell part of the story.
When it comes to actual user engagement, how does Snapchat compare to WhatsApp?
The two are, in fact, neck and neck when evaluated using Forrester’s App Engagement Index, a framework that measures engagement success for apps across four user metrics: popularity, commitment, frequency, and time spend. Interestingly, their overall scores are comparable, but their performance on each of the metrics is different: While Snapchat attracts a larger audience, WhatsApp users actually spend more time using the app.
Around this time of year, one can’t help but become reflective. I know I’m not alone when I say that, on the one hand, this year somehow shot past faster than the last one, but on the other hand, it was jam-packed with new discoveries, fresh ideas, and memorable experiences. In particular, this has been a milestone year for the data insights innovation team here at Forrester, as we officially launched our Technographics 360 research approach, which synthesizes mobile behavioral, social listening, online qualitative, and survey data. As I think back on my experiences with the Technographics 360 initiative inside Forrester, paired with my industry learnings outside Forrester, a few key lessons come to mind that I will take into the new year:
1. Synthesis is “in.” In fact, I learned so much about this topic, I wrote a full blog post dedicated to it! In essence, we now live in a world where the truest insight is a product of synthesis – building knowledge up – rather than of analysis – breaking ideas down. I recently attended SSI’s seminar featuring Simon Chadwick, who proposed that data synthesis is “the next big thing” in insight skills. I agree: With so many diverse data sources at our fingertips that offer unique perspectives on consumers’ lives, researchers need to put the puzzle pieces together to construct a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior.
Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been highly lucrative for retailers, but this year saw another drop in spending specifically on Black Friday. In the meantime, online shopping continues to soar, and the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend provided consumers with deep-discount sales. In short, the weekend itself is becoming less valuable to the average consumer. But how does consumer sentiment match up with this shift in behavior? How do perceptions of the 2014 holiday season differ from those of years past and consumers’ initial expectations?
As part of our recent research efforts, we leveraged Forrester’s Technographics® 360 multimethodology research approach to gain a better understanding of consumers’ shopping habits (using our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community) and to track online conversation and sentiment relative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday leading up to the holidays and afterwards (using NetBase aggregated social listening data).
As researchers, we can’t underestimate the power of perspective. When the Eiffel Tower was erected 125 years ago, it became the tallest manmade structure in the world and, more importantly, allowed visitors to look down over Paris for the first time; perhaps it was the first real instance of a “birds-eye view.” At the same time, artists like Picasso and Stein were pushing the limits of perspective by portraying every angle of 3-dimensional concepts in one painting or poem. In many ways, the research world today is akin to this historical period of creativity. With more data at our fingertips than ever before, we are able to observe consumer behavior from new vantage points and produce a fresh understanding of customer trends by analyzing multiple angles at the same time.
Here on the data insights innovation team at Forrester, we’ve called our multiperspective research approach Technographics 360. Officially launched this year, Technographics 360 blends Consumer Technographics® survey output, ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community insight, social listening data, and passive mobile behavioral tracking to synthesize a 360-degree view of consumer behavior. Instead of analyzing research questions by breaking them down, we can synthesize comprehensive solutions by building our knowledge up.
In 2015, wearables will hit mass market: With Apple’s much-anticipated Apple Watch slated for release early next year, the already hype-heavy conversation will reach new heights. My colleague Anjali Lai wrote a report analyzing the true addressable market of Apple Watch from a quantitative and qualitative data perspective – covered right here on the Data Digest– to interject some strong data-driven analysis into the conversation.
With evolving bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends and the prevalence of consumer mobility captured by the Mobile Mind Shift Index, the lines between personal and work mobility have blurred. I see this every day that I take the train to work, watching information workers seamlessly shift from Candy Crush Saga to their work email on their mobile devices.
For years, Forrester has measured consumers’ use of technology in their personal lives and their work through its Consumer and Business Technographics® surveys. This year, we began to address the intersection of these spheres, comparing a worker’s relative mobility at home with their mobility at work. Specifically, we analyzed the extent to which information workers across 10 countries use mobile devices at work and at home, leading to four segments based on their relative mobility in each sphere:
This analysis found that nearly one-third of global information workers fall into two segments: the Mobile-Compelled – high mobility at work but not in their personal life; and the Mobile-Ready – high mobility in their personal life but not at home. This highlights how mobility at home does not automatically translate to mobility at work.
On November 20, Google released a report on the findings from a survey it conducted in collaboration with Forrester on online shopping trends in India. The report highlights what’s driving the growth of eCommerce in India, including mobile commerce, female shoppers, and the growing number of people in tier two and tier three cities making purchases online. However, the report also noted some barriers to online retail in India, such as its poor showing regarding customer satisfaction and trust; to make further progress, eCommerce firms must work hard to improve in these areas. The report’s key findings involved:
Mobile shoppers. Mobile is driving the market, especially in tier two and tier three cities in India. Half of the online shoppers in tier three cities are already on mobile, compared with just one-third in tier one cities. The percentage of online buyers making shopping queries from a mobile device has grown from 24% in 2012 to 57% in 2014. Forrester forecasts that mCommerce in India will reach $19 billion by 2019.
Women. Women are far more active buyers than men in tier one cities. They outspend men online by two to one, and one-quarter of women in tier one cities make mobile purchases.
New buyers. More than 70% of people in tier one and tier two cities who do not currently make purchases online are expected to do so in the next 12 months.
New growth areas. Home furnishings, cosmetics, and baby care are the next areas of growth for online retail after the success of online retail in the consumer electronics segment.