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.
Even with the increased use of instant messaging, SMS remains the workhorse of mobile — with a 14% increase in the number of SMS messages sent in 2011 compared with 2010. More than 2 trillion SMS messages were sent in the US in 2011, which equates to more than 6 billion SMS messages sent per day. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. Although by 2017 SMS will dominate mobile content spend less than it does today, it will still remain significant.
Does your brand include Seniors (those ages 65+) in its digital marketing strategy? It should. Here’s why. Forrester recently published a demographic overview of Digital Seniors, and the findings are suggestive: 60% of US Seniors are online — that’s more than 20 million online Seniors in the US.
How are US Seniors using the Internet and technology? While they trail behind younger generations when it comes to device ownership and online usage, they integrate technology into their lives in ways that are relevant for them. For example, they use it as a way to connect with family and friends — 46% of US online Seniors send and receive photos by email, and just under half have a Facebook account.
Seniors aren’t as active on the Web and are less likely to own a smartphone or tablet as younger generations, so many campaign managers don't see them as an obvious target for digital campaigns. But they do have a number of advantages compared with younger consumers, including 1) their size — there are about 21 million online Seniors in the US; 2) their income — they have far more money to spend than 18- to 24-year-olds; and 3) their brand attitudes — they are more brand-loyal, with 63% of online Seniors agreeing that when they find a brand they like, they stick to it, compared with 53% of all US online adults.
Recently, I attended the MSI Workshop on behavioral economics at the Harvard Innovation Lab. The presenters included an innovative crew: a number of academics from Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely , author of Predictably Irrational. They gave many examples of how consumers aren’t always rational and don’t always know why they do what they do. This is troubling for market researchers, since it’s our job to understand what drives consumers so that companies can effectively optimize what works and what doesn’t. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how principles of behavioral economics can wreak havoc on market researchers:
The path of least resistance (AKA the default). Ever wonder why you are enrolled in your company’s 401(k)? Why you take generic over brand-name prescriptions? Why you’re an organ donor? Is it because of your financial sense or your values — or could it be because it was simply the default (and hence the simplest) option? In fact, multiple experiments in behavioral economics suggest just that: People tend to go with the default option but don’t realize they do.