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.
Last Sunday my washing machine broke down. And for a family with young children, a washing machine is right up there with shelter and food in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
As the shops are closed on Sundays in the Netherlands, I turned to the Internet to look for a new one. And because I wasn't very satisfied with my old brand, I was looking for another with similar features but (hopefully) better quality. Within minutes I was completely lost in washing cycles, special programs, and all the other fancy features washing machines have nowadays. I clicked picture after picture, trying to enlarge to see the controls, with little success. But I was saved by video. I came across a site that shows a video of each of the products they sell — how they work, what they do, the control panel, explaining what the fancy features mean, and so on. This information, together with the price, helped me decide which washing machine to buy (at that site, of course).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I love talking about cool, emerging, and innovative research methodologies. Over the past two years, I have been focusing a lot of my time on researching these techniques and have written several blog posts on this topic. For example, how prediction markets can help determine which concepts will succeed or fail in the marketplace. And how 2012 is the year of mobile, and market insights (MI) professionals need to leverage this channel.
In continuing with this theme, I am launching a blog series focused exclusively on highlighting emerging methodologies that MI professionals should take notice of and examine whether to incorporate into their research tool kit. I will highlight any cool research techniques I come across, as well as any vendors that are building interesting technology tools for market research purposes.
For this inaugural post, I will highlight location analytics. Essentially, market insights professionals can use a consumer’s location information that is transmitted by their mobile phone to understand what they are doing in their daily lives. For example, you can understand where your target customer is shopping, how she got there, and which competitor stores she drove past. The consumers being tracked do not have to “check in” every place they go to gather this information. Instead, all of the location data is passively collected after a consumer opts in.
More than 80% of worldwide app downloads in 2011 were for Apple and Android devices; these accounted for more than 16 billion downloads. Gaming apps dominate mobile app spending; this is driven by both an increase in the number of users playing games on their phones and the amount of in-game spend, which accounted for more than 60% of mobile gaming revenues. In the US, about 76 million mobile and tablet owners regularly play games on their devices; with only a third of these regularly downloading games, there’s a great opportunity for growth in both mobile advertising and mobile gaming revenues.