Recently, my colleagues Brian Walker and Sucharita Mulpuru released a great overview of Amazon and its role in retail. What’s clear from this report is that Amazon is affecting everyone, both retailers and consumers. In fact, it shows that for many shoppers, Amazon is increasingly their first stop on the retail path: Thirty percent of US online buyers said that they began researching their most recent online purchase on Amazon.
In Europe, we asked online Europeans about the websites that they used to research products/services in the past three months. In the UK, France, and Germany, Amazon was mentioned most often. While some local retailers hold their own, such as Argos in the UK and fnac in France, eBay is the runner-up in most of these markets.
The rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile Internet usage is changing the way US consumers shop. Although still nascent, mobile commerce is poised for exponential growth. Mobile retail and travel spending grew by 80% in 2011 and is expected to more than double by the end of this year.
There are various definitions of mobile commerce that include retail, travel, advertising, proximity payments (coming soon), and appdownloads, but Forrester combines retail and travel research with an understanding of mobile consumer habits to build its mobile commerce forecast. Shop.org and Forrester Research administer The State of Retailing Online survey annually to online retailers to understand key metrics in shopping trends; this year's survey focused on mobile commerce and mobile retail execution. Having data from both the consumer and merchant perspectives provides us with a richer understanding of the mobile commerce platform and buying behavior.
Earlier this year, Forrester’s published its tablet forecast for the US. With 55 million iPads sold through December 2011, and an estimated 5.5 million Amazon Kindle Fires sold in their first quarter on the market, tablets have gained unstoppable momentum. Forrester forecasted that tablets would reach 112.5 million US consumers — one-third of the US adult population — by 2016. Since then, a slew of new tablets have been unveiled, including the recently announced Windows Surface and Google Nexus 7.
For now, the US is definitely the leading market for tablet adoption. Forrester’s European and North American Technographics® Surveys show that both uptake as well as interest are highest in the US.
Recently, there has been concern over privacy regarding data on Facebook. Since the recent Facebook IPO, many people have been wondering if the company is facing pressure to find a new source of revenue. The question in many people’s minds is whether it will come from advertising and/or other sources — or whether Facebook will monetize the massive amount of data that the company has on consumers. After all, most people are on Facebook: Forrester’s North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey (Part 2), Q3 2012 (US, Canada) shows that almost seven out of 10 US online adults have a Facebook account. What’s more, that survey shows that the typical US online adult with a Facebook account has more than 180 friends on Facebook and spends an average of 7 hours each week on the site.
MIT’s Technology Reviewrecently published an article on the topic, “What Facebook Knows.” The article highlights how massive Facebook’s consumer database is and compares Facebook with a country — with 900 million members, it would be the third-largest globally. People share all kinds of information with Facebook: their demographic details, personal information, interests, and even their contact information.
Email marketing is at an important crossroads because email is losing its appeal for consumers. Research shows that younger people in particular feel email is too formal. Forrester’s European Technographics® surveys show that consumers’ attitudes toward email marketing have only grown more critical over time. In 2007, 24% of European Internet users agreed that email was a good way to learn about new products, but only 12% agreed in 2010. And 54% of European online consumers state that they delete most promotional emails without reading them.
Are consumers deleting your promotional emails as well? Are you wondering what content and updates your customers value? You should just ask them! Surveys, social media, and offline anecdotes will give you insight into what email content, offers, and even style your users like. For instance, the BBC's GoodFood magazine asked its Facebook fans, "What theme would you like to see in today's newsletter?" and used the results to craft its email content.
Mobile commerce is taking off in Europe. Retail and travel spend via a mobile phone increased by 70% in 2011. Impulse-buying categories that require little intensive research — such as books, computer software and video games, music, videos and DVDs, and event tickets — are driving a large part of these mobile retail sales. Understanding mobile buying behaviors, the evolution of mobile buyers, and relative mobile spend across Germany, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden are the focus of the Forrester Research Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (EU-7), >, and report which has just been published.
The forecast combines insights from the Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (Western Europe) with an understanding of smartphone adoption rates and how online buyer sophistication differs from mobile buyer sophistication for each EU-7 country. Smartphone owners are more predisposed to become mobile retail buyers if they have already bought online or if they have already bought mobile apps and digital content. By 2017, mobile retail, travel, and daily deal spend in the EU-7 will rise to €19.2 billion, which will represent 6.8% of online spend. Mobile’s share of total travel spend will be much higher than that seen in retail, as more than 35% of travel bookings for leisure and unmanaged business travel were made online in the EU-7 in 2011.
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).
Mobile banking is on a steep rise in the US. Almost one-third of online bankers currently conduct banking activities through their mobile handsets, and this population is poised to more than double by 2017. As indicated in our recently published Forrester Research Mobile Banking Forecast, 2012 to 2017 (US), younger age groups (Gen Y and Z) and familiarity with PC banking are fueling thisrapid adoption.
While checking account balances is the most popular activity, receiving alerts is the fastest growing feature; users will triple in the next five years. And with growing consumer comfort, mobile transactions, such as transferring funds from one account to another, will more than double during the same time period.
I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the time of year and the fact that my upcoming holiday makes me a bit introspective. Maybe it’s the weather, as it’s been a horrendous summer so far in the Netherlands. Or maybe it’s just me, being inundated with tweets, blog post, articles, white papers, vendor briefings, etc., about market research. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: I’m currently struggling a bit with the pervasive authoritative voice in the industry. Don’t get me wrong; I’m well aware that I’m as guilty as everyone else. But we all seem so certain about what’s going on in research, what needs to happen, what’s wrong, and what’s right; about who’s in and who’s out. I feel we’re losing an important skill that distinguishes good market researchers from great ones: the ability to doubt.
With market research, there is no absolute truth. Research is about interpretation of results, placing numbers into context, finding the story behind the numbers. Any data set can have multiple stories; it’s the market researcher who uncovers and shares the story that he or she believes to be most powerful for the business. In the end, however, it’s just one perception of the truth. Great researchers know this, and they always challenge themselves, trying to pick holes in their story, finding examples that prove the opposite. The problem with today’s business environment is that it doesn’t leave much room for doubt or uncertainty. In fact, doubt and uncertainty are seen as weaknesses. So, what do we do? We cover up and only show our best side.
For the past decade, the number of customers using the Web to manage their bank accounts and policies and to research and buy financial products has grown steadily. For many customers, the Web has already replaced bank branches, financial advisors, and insurance agents as the heart of their relationship with their financial providers. For example, in the Netherlands and Sweden, less than one in 10 consumers go into a branch on a monthly basis — they do most of their banking activities online or, increasingly, on mobile phones..
But this doesn’t mean that these consumers don’t need support. Forrester’s European Technographics® Financial Services Online Survey, Q4 2011 shows that although uptake of money management tools is still low in Europe, already one-third of online Europeans are interested in tools that will give them more insight into their spending.