Back in October, I traveled to Berlin and Cambridge, Mass., to attend the annual conferences of the Service Design Network, an international organization for professionals and academics working in the field of service design.
Um . . . What’s service design?
Great question! Service designers broadly define what they do as a collaborative process of researching, envisioning, and then orchestrating experiences that happen over time and across multiple touchpoints. Unlike traditional design disciplines, service designers typically examine — and often re-engineer — the strategy behind a service as well as the operational systems, processes, and resources that deliver it.
Um . . . Can you give me an example?
Sure! There are lots of examples in my latest report. But one story in particular stands out because it includes some very cool design solutions for a very unsexy industry: utilities. When the UK recently mandated that water billing switch from estimated to actual use, English utility company Southern Water faced a massive meter installation project. The company turned to service design agencies for help – and through several interrelated projects that spanned roughly 18 months, the Southern Water teamexplored how meter installation could be a positive experience and how consumer behavior toward saving water could be influenced.
In the end, they streamlined the rollout of 500,000 new water meters. (That’s about 400 new meters a day over a period of five years!) Here are some of the project highlights:
As some of you might know, I'm quite an active twitterer. Earlier this month, there was a lot of discussion on Twitter about how unique we all were. Why? Because only a very small percentage of people actually tweet regularly. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 11% of US online consumers tweet monthly, while more than 84% say that they never tweet.
So who are these “tweeps,” and why are they so attractive to marketers? As one would assume, people who tweet monthly or more display many characteristics of early adopters: They are more educated, more likely to own a smartphone, more likely to be male, and more likely to have a higher income.
What really makes them unique, and at the same time very interesting for marketers, are their attitudes:
"A phone is a phone. A phone stays at home. A phone doesn't go with me in the car or out on the town." Not quite the skill set of Dr. Seuss, but this is a direct quote from my 78-year-old friend from the pool. She just disconnected her home phone and now relies solely on a new iPhone 4.
Our clients have watched their traffic (and sales) from mobile devices explode in 2010. Much of this excitement stems from their observations of those customers with either iPads or what we call smartphones — all of the Apple, Android, BlackBerry, HP/Palm, Symbian, and Windows devices consumers own. Adoption of these devices has been growing rapidly. It is hard to name a media outlet, retailer, airline, hotel, bank, insurance provider, fast food company, beverage company, or consumer packaged goods company without an iPhone and/or Android application today. When these same consumer product and service companies look forward at smartphone sales forecasts for the next couple of years, the excitement around the potential opportunities is even greater. They are thinking, "... more smartphone owners will mean more downloads of my applications will mean more sales via the mobile device ...." Will it?
My colleagues Charles Golvin and Thomas Husson and I began to describe this phenomenon in our recent Mobile Technographics report. Will consumers move up the ladder? Or leap over steps? Will increased smartphone adoption translate directly into more usage and sales to companies with mobile services?
Recently, deal-of-the-day Web site Groupon got a lot of attention because of Google’s interest in its business. We understand that there are a few attractive pieces to the Groupon story — it’s theoretically a very lucrative business model. My colleague Sucharita Mulpuru commented on this at the end of November with a post highlighting the business opportunities of deal-of-the-day sites. What I was interested in was the customer side: Who is actually using these sites?
Our Technographics® data shows that the majority of US online consumers aren’t familiar with deal-of-the-day sites like Groupon or Living Social, and another 25% haven't used them yet.
Looking at these numbers, you could say that there's quite some opportunity for growth. However, the current users have quite a unique profile: The 3% of US consumers who frequently use deal-of-the-day sites have a lot of money to spend (about half of them report having an average household income of $100K or more), and they expect to spend more money online this year than last year. They are twice as likely to be influenced by what's hot and what's not, two-thirds are willing to try new things, and 62% agree that they often change their mind about which brand to buy after doing some research — making them the ideal target audience for deal-of-the-day sites.
Nearly one year ago, I asserted that the global economic downturn had not slowed the international expansion of eCommerce initiatives. In 2010, online retailers continued their push into new global markets: Gap launched eCommerce sites in the UK and China while starting to ship internationally to other markets; Amazon launched its first new localized Web site in six years; Zara went live with eCommerce sites in six European markets.
The push toward global expansion is poised to continue in 2011, with few companies suggesting that international markets will represent a decreasing percentage of revenues in the future. And while Canada and the UK still rank as the top destinations for US online retailers operating abroad, it’s not just the markets of North America and Europe that are attracting attention. Indeed, companies increasingly cite emerging markets as key to long-term growth. A survey of business executives just released in the McKinsey Quarterly indicates that more than 75% of those surveyed expect to see revenues from emerging markets within the next five years; more than one-third of companies expect those revenues to represent more than 25% of the total.
Looking forward to 2011, we expect to see the following trends:
First of all, the technology is not new at all. It is simply moving from PC and industrial environments to a marketing and mobile context.
Let’s face the reality: for now it is primarily used by brands willing to launch innovative mobile services and in search of a “wow” effect.
Few consumers are currently holding up their smartphone to interact with their environment as a totally natural gesture. Whether you look at the installed base of Junaio or Layar’s mobile users, this is a niche market.
From a pure technology standpoint, AR requires object recognition and computerization on the mobile device itself, as well as 3D rendering to superimpose images on the real world. This is a technology that only a few companies such as Metaio and Total Immersion really master.
The information displayed must be ultra-accurate and delivered in a perfectly seamless way. This is still far from being the norm for many of the so-called mobile AR applications.
To put it succinctly, mobile AR is not yet delivering its promise. There are certainly more significant short-term opportunities to tap into with Web-based and kiosk-based AR solutions, in particular related to eCommerce.
However, Forrester believes consumer product strategists should not dismiss the technology. On the contrary, it is likely to trigger disruption in the years to come and to open up new opportunities.
Is this a key technology moving forward? Yes.
Think of mobile AR as: “A way to click on the real world with your phone the way computer users navigate their desktop with a mouse. Just point in the direction you want to search, or at a place you want more info about,” which is how GeoVector summed it up in promoting its World Surfer application.
It’s the time of year again, in which we tend to look back at what has been, and look forward to what will happen. Looking at this from a professional angle, 2010 was a very interesting year for the industry: research vendors bounced back from the recession, there was an increased focus on added value, and we saw a lot of innovation happening. In our report Predictions 2011: What Will Happen In Market Research, my team and I have identified a number of trends that we expect to shape market research in 2011.
Organization, technology, and social are defining the research agenda in 2011. In fact, in 2011 market researchers need to embrace social media as an information source, recognize technology as a driver of change while understanding how to implement it effectively, and continue to identify and integrate innovative methodologies to prepare for the future ahead. This will drive, for example, the following trends:
Leaders of competitive and market intelligence teams know that something is wrong. They tell Forrester this every day. They describe it as being similar to when your car doesn’t drive quite right, but the mechanic can’t find a problem, or when you feel sick, but the doctor gives you a clean bill of health.
You know that something needs to change, but can’t seem to find a point of view to guide you toward the right way to change.
The most frequently used word to describe this problem is “credibility” — and is usually couched in questions such as “how can we build credibility with sales?” or “why isn’t our content credible with sales teams?” Forrester’s practice serving sales enablement professionals will discuss the challenge of building CMI credibility with sales during our February teleconference.
Across the tech industry, marketing and portfolio teams place massive amounts of content into sales portals and measure their success from the usage data — views, downloads, prints — from these repositories. During a recent research interview, one sales rep at a leading software company said, “I know that a lot of materials are supposed to be on our sales portals, but in my nine years, I haven’t ever taken the time to look.”
Your supply chain is broken if a sales rep can succeed for a decade without ever using your materials or even visiting the primary site holding your content!
Forrester’s Technographics® shows that online European consumers have lost their trust in traditional media as an information source. A low 30% of online Europeans state that they trust the TV as an information source. The traditional media that Europeans see as most trustworthy are radio and newspapers. About one-third agree that they trust newspapers as an information source. Funnily enough, this number varies significantly across European countries: 45% of French Internet users trust newspapers as an information source — a number that is almost three times as high as the 16% quoted by their UK counterparts!
In fact, consumers trust consumer reviews and price comparison Web sites more than manufacturers' Web sites. But what does this trust mean? How influential are consumer reviews in the purchasing process? About one in 10 online consumers takes consumer reviews specifically into consideration when making a major purchase. Information sources that influence them most in the purchasing process are going to the shop (34%), talking with family and friends (24%), and the retailer’s Web site (13%). And although we see some differences in the percentages reported by country, these top three are the same everywhere.