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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although 91% of retail sales in EU7 were offline in 2014, online presence is critical to retailer success, as nongrocery web-influenced sales were three times larger than online sales. EU7 includes the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden. A soon-to-be-published report, Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (EU-7), shows why the majority of nongrocery offline retail sales will be influenced by the Internet as early as 2017; why this influence is dependent on country, category, and consumer age and gender; and why a consistent consumer experience across all multichannel touchpoints is critical for retailer success.
How consumers are influenced by the Web depends on many factors:
Online behaviors. Price and consumer ratings are the most important online factors influencing retail sales. Online behaviors are more embedded than ever into the consumer purchase journey, as online buyers and online spend per buyer continue to grow in Western Europe. Offline populations continue to decrease, although at different rates across Europe: almost a third of Italians and a fifth of Spaniards are still not online.
Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola once said: “The very earliest people who made films were magicians.” In some ways, things haven’t changed -- although the media producers of today seem to pull the classic reappearing act as their key trick: When content finishes on one screen, it reappears on another . . . and then another.
Video is available across myriad personal devices, and consumers’ viewing habits are fragmented across technologies. Just as channels for video consumption are becoming more profuse, the types of content that viewers seek are also increasingly diverse. In the past month alone, American audiences said hello to streaming-exclusive dramas and goodbye to long-running TV shows. This week, consumers viewed an array of films like those premiering at SXSW, and tuned into the March Madness sports frenzy.
Consumers have choices about what to watch, on which device, and when. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, US online adults still prefer to watch longer-length video on TVs but frequently turn to smaller devices for shorter content:
Western Europe is one of the largest online markets for cross-border trade: In 2014, Western consumers spent €26 billion on cross-border trade, representing 17% of eCommerce sales in Western Europe. Our recently published Forrester Research Online Cross-Border Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Western Europe) shows that cross-border trade depends on sales flowing into a country from domestic cross-border purchases and sales flowing out of a country from nondomestic shoppers. Cross-border trade gives retailers an opportunity to expand outside of their domestic markets with minimum upfront investment. To succeed, retailers must understand the cross-border shopper and how to compete internationally.
Online cross-border shoppers:
Are looking for the best price. Price-sensitive online shoppers drive cross-border sales. The price of domestic goods in countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Ireland make the consumer more likely to shop cross-border to find a bargain.
Are looking for the best choice. The consumer choice offered by large online retail markets in countries like the UK, France, and Germany make the consumer less likely to shop outside of their domestic market.
Spend more online, have higher incomes, and are younger than domestic shoppers. Retailers need to know the types of categories bought online to better target the cross-border shopper.
Gaming apps entertain users for an impressive amount of time — on average users spend 1.5x longer using gaming apps than the average app. In addition to time engagement, popular gaming apps have a fiercely loyal user base. Take Candy Crush Saga, the most popular gaming app on smartphones. It attracts almost twice the share of weekly users, and they spend close to 3X longer using the app than what we’re seeing for the average app (evaluated by the App Engagement Index). That’s why it places ninth across all the apps that the App Engagement Index ranks, and earns the first spot among gaming apps evaluated during Q4 2014.