Last month George Colony, CEO of Forrester, talked about a “Social Thunderstorm” at the LeWeb conference in Paris. He argued that social is running out of hours and running out of people. What does that mean? Well, the second one is easy: The vast majority of consumers around the world who have access to a computer use social media. And the first one? George goes on to say that Americans are spending more time on social media than volunteering, praying, talking on the phone, emailing, or even exercising.
With so many people spending so much time on social media, it is crucial for companies to understand how their customers use social media. We just released our newest report, Social Media Adoption In 2011, which reveals the latest trends.
The report illustrates how consumers are using social media by applying our Social Technographics® global classification system. The graphic below illustrates this framework. We classify consumers into seven groups based on online activities, and consumers can fall into several different groups. Only Inactives are an exclusive group.
I love this time of year. As a real nostalgic I enjoy all these ‘best of 2011’ lists and ‘year in review’ overviews and it feels there are more every year. In the past two weeks we also have been bombarded with opinions about the developments in the market insights industry in 2011, as well as what people expect to happen in 2012 (and beyond). We’ve seen Twitter 2011 reviews, crowd sourcing activities, expert views, and so on. And I read them all. However, I do this with my favorite end of year activity playing in the background: The Top2000. This is an annual five day event that counts down the 2,000 best records ever produced - as voted by 3 million Dutch adults.
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.
As some of you know, I really have a thing for doing research in multiple countries. I’ve been working in market research for two decades now and have always conducted international research projects — and experienced all the challenges that come with them. But I believe that conducting international research is even more challenging now than it was 20 years ago when I started my research career.
I see three key challenges that market researchers must deal with when doing multicountry projects:
1) How to collect globally comparable data. As soon as the surveyed cultures are so different that you need to adapt research methodologies and localize questionnaires, you’ve lost the chance for global comparisons. How do you walk that fine line between globalization and localization?
2) How to put this data into a local context. It’s really hard to understand the real drivers of behavior in different regions. Just looking at the results and comparing them with those of other countries might result in the wrong conclusions.
3) How to distribute and communicate these results back. Collecting information is one thing, but communicating it back to the local organizations and having them act on it is quite another. Will your local market insights teams use, share, and implement the data that you’ve collected globally?
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.*
With mobile usage becoming increasingly widespread and companies testing the water with mobile strategies, market insights professionals need to uncover consumers’ mobile behavior today and tomorrow. But with the pace of mobile innovation moving so rapidly, how can you keep up with all of the things that people are doing with their mobile phones?
In the next three years, would you expect people to use their mobile phones as wallets? What about as electronic passports? What about for space exploration? While that seems like a long shot, a New York state resident did just that — attaching an iPhone to a weather balloon, videoing the journey, and using its GPS feature to map its voyage (see link for the footage).
Although data nowadays shows that young consumers in particular are moving away from traditional media in their daily media consumption, our Forrester data also shows that traditional media are still powerful means for advertising/promotion. In Roxana Strohmenger’s recent report, “Young Hispanics Lead In Mobile Activity But Don't Trust Mobile Ads Very Much,” she discovers that the two top channels are TV and magazines; American youth trust them twice as much as other online or mobile channels, and ads on mobile phone are being trusted the least. No wonder TV spending continues to top other forms of media in America and continues to grow, according to Nielsen; even search engine giant Google is getting into the TV advertising business by offering unique targeting and measurement capabilities.
I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from our annual The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2011, US report. This data-rich report is an institution in the US, covering a range of topics on consumers and technology. For those of you who aren't familiar with our benchmark report, it's based on Forrester's annual survey that we've been fielding since 1998 and for which we interview close to 60,000 US adults. In fact, almost anything related to consumers and their use of and interest in technology can be found in this study.
In this year’s report, like last year, we segmented consumers by generation, examining Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. This view continues to provide some very interesting and actionable consumer insights into how technology behaviors vary across generations. For example, younger generations are more active on social networks; however, of those Boomers who are using social media, a similar percentage has a Facebook account or a LinkedIn account as their younger counterparts. The younger generations are far more likely to have a Twitter or MySpace account, though.
The theme of this year’s report is connectivity: How are the different generations using technology inside and outside the home and which devices do they use? Here are a few interesting general insights that we uncovered:
My colleagues Charles Golvin and Thomas Husson recently published a report that reveals The Global Mainstreaming Of Smartphones, and they found that while the majority of smartphone owners are high-income adopters, the low-income optimists (who Forrester defines as Techno-Strivers, Digital Hopefuls, and Gadget Grabbers) and high-income pessimists (who Forrester defines as Handshakers, Traditionalists, and Media Junkies) are the ones who together make up the majority of the US population. They are the potential consumers who will lead to smarthphone sales growth.