I am delighted to announce that for the first time, our annual US consumers and technology benchmark report now has a European counterpart: "The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2012, Europe." This report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for understanding how consumers change their technology behaviors over time. The report, based on one of our European Technographics® surveys, covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, device ownership — including penetration data and forecasts for smartphones and tablets — media consumption, retail, social media, and a deep dive on mobile. For Europe, we analyze our findings for five countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
I recently completed James L. McQuivey's Digital Disruption, which is well worth the read if you have not yet gotten your hands on a copy. The book analyzes factors that allow for the emergence of digital disruptors — individuals who are pushing the envelope of product efficiency by harnessing available digital capabilities. In the book, James mentions that most digital disruptors are under age 35 because these individuals were “the first to grow up in a consumer economy where free things were not simply promotional tools . . . [they] internalized the idea of free from the consumer side, which led to the kinds of rapid digital adoption curves that run through the body of digital disruption like arterial supply lines.”
This is an intriguing point because it hints at young consumers’ evolving expectations of free tools and content. For the upcoming generation, the capacity for digital productivity and entertainment free of charge is less of a privilege and more of a norm. Today, consumers can get what they want quickly and cheaply; therefore, they expect that their needs will be met faster and more frequently than ever before.
This idea is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile interaction. The overwhelming majority of consumers say they only access mobile application content for free. Analysis of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reflects this sentiment: While some consumers state they may pay a one-time download fee for gaming or music apps, most would exclusively choose free media:
This week, Google announced that it will shut down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. In its announcement, Google states that it’s doing this because the usage of Google Reader has declined and it wants to concentrate on fewer products. There was a lot of buzz online about this decision, and some fanatical Google Reader fans put together a petition to keep the RSS reader alive. They garnered more than 50,000 signatures in just a few hours.
This whole debate sparked my interest, and I analyzed Forrester’s Technographics® data to get a better understanding of the usage of RSS feeds over time. I found that Google is right about the decline. Our data shows that it was always only a dedicated group who used RSS feeds at least weekly — about 7% of US online adults in 2008; this had declined to just over 4% last year, with about one in 10 US online adults using RSS feeds about monthly.
Historically, consumers in Asia Pacific have done far more activities on their mobile phones than in other regions. With the increasing availability of affordable smartphones in the region, mobile phones are now the No. 1 device for consuming media for many consumers in Asia Pacific. Similarly, activities like playing games (such as word games and puzzle games), listening to music (both streaming and non-streaming), and using social media are increasingly done via mobile phones, and activity levels are now approaching those of PCs.
In recent months, Forrester’s Data Insights team has been analyzing our Technographics® data for the Asia Pacific version of our annual global series, “Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers.” For the past seven years, Forrester has been tracking consumers’ online and offline behavior in Asia Pacific. In 2012, we surveyed 16,616 Asia Pacific consumers across two surveys to find out about their use of the Internet for media, entertainment, shopping, communication, and social computing.
On Sunday, February 24, TVs around the world were tuned to the 85th annual Academy Awards show (aka The Oscars). While the very first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929 — with guest tickets costing only $5 and fewer than 300 people attending the event in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s dining room — today the event is broadcast live to millions of fans across 200 countries. But The Oscars’ impressive growth in viewership is not the only thing that signifies the changing times; the technological advances that the awards program has embraced position the event as a leader in the modern-day media consumption landscape.
In 2011, Oscar.com’s supplementary footage offered an overwhelmingly popular second-screen viewing experience; it won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. Several weeks ago, the Academy launched a second version of the official Oscars app that engages consumers all year round but provides exclusive real-time updates during the dazzling event itself.
The Academy’s mobile development, which allows consumers to connect with supplemental real-time content for an enhanced entertainment experience, is a timely one: Forrester’s North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey (Part 2), Q3 2012 (US) shows that 69% of US online adults use Internet-connected devices while watching TV today. Not surprisingly, younger consumers are most likely to turn their devices into TV companions: 61% of 18- to 24-year-old multitaskers use a mobile phone to interact with programming-specific content.
Tablet ownership in Western Europe is set to quadruple in the next five years: The percentage of European online consumers who own a tablet will increase from 14% in 2012 to 55% in 2017, according to the Forrester Research World Tablet Adoption Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (Global). This dramatic growth follows what was a pivotal year for tablets: Ownership doubled in 2012, and one in seven online Europeans now owns a tablet. The recently published Forrester report “The European Tablet Landscape” draws on our Technographics® data and looks at the profile of European tablet owners and their usage patterns. We found that:
Unsurprisingly, tablet owners are tech-savvy. Today, tablets are most popular with 18- to 24-year-olds, with one in four online consumers in this age group now owning a tablet. Of all tablet owners, a high 45% state that they “like technology” and 36% agree that “technology is important for me.”
Income is a driver . . . for now. About 24% of high-income European online consumers have a tablet, compared with 15% of online low-income consumers. But the growing variety of tablets and form factors as well as more competitive pricing will make tablets affordable for a wider range of consumers.
Earlier this week, I attended a briefing with a vendor around analyzing and structuring consumer ratings and reviews; the vendor aims to give companies more guidance during the product development stage or help them understand where a current product is in its life cycle depending on the number of reviews that product is getting compared with its competitors.
The concept is interesting, but it got me thinking about the process of ratings and reviews a bit more. How many people are actually giving ratings and reviews, who are they, and why are they giving feedback?
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® global online benchmark surveys in Q2 2012 revealed a wide variation between countries in terms of the share of the online population that actually gives feedback. In metropolitan India and China, about three-quarters of online consumers post ratings/reviews of products or services at least monthly; in Brazil, it’s about a third; while in the US and Europe, it’s less than 20%.
However, far more people rely on ratings and reviews than give them — particularly in the US and Europe. More than 50% of US online consumers check ratings and reviews regularly, for example. And consumer reviews and ratings are the second most trusted source of online shoppers when buying a product, after family and friends.
Mobile payments saw continued innovation and competitive disruption throughout 2012, but consumer adoption lagged behind the industry hype. The Forrester Research Mobile Payments Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (US) shows that US consumers will adopt mobile payments at an accelerating rate over the next five years, reaching $90 billion by the end of 2017. Lower barriers to adoption, increased convenience, and early entrants striving for scale will be important drivers of growth.
I was in the US this week, visiting our headquarters in Cambridge, and the topic of loyalty cards and loyalty programs came up. I live in the Netherlands, and although there are plenty of loyalty programs to subscribe to, the benefits aren’t any way near what you get from loyalty programs in the US. Because of that, I normally base my travel choices more on convenience and price than on the hotel chain or airline. But our North American Technographics® Travel And Auto Online Benchmark Recontact Survey, Q3 2012 (US) shows that this is different for US travelers.
US hotel travelers clearly see the benefit of subscribing to a loyalty program for the hotels they visit regularly. In fact, our data shows that about 40% of US online leisure hotel travelers belong to at least one hotel loyalty program. And those who belong to a hotel loyalty program are 10 percentage points more likely to recommend a hotel than leisure hotel travelers who are not part of a loyalty program.
However, the majority of leisure travelers who belong to a loyalty program are Gen X; younger travelers account for only a quarter of current loyalty program subscribers. Hoteliers who want to benefit from social sharing and recommendations should tap the potential of their loyal younger customers in particular.
At this time of the year, many people make resolutions — and many of these are health-related: quit smoking, exercise more, or eat healthier. As anyone who has ever made one of these resolutions knows, it's really hard to make a change. But there’s plenty of technology out there that can help track your progress and give you a bit of support.
Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that about one-third of US online smartphone owners use their phone for healthcare-related activities, ranging from tracking what they eat to text alerts about medication:
However, using technology to track your health hasn’t reached the mainstream yet. In fact, many consumers don’t consider this to be very appealing. Recently, my colleague Lindsey Colella hosted a project in Forrester’s market research online community to better understand the relationship between technology and health. In her report 'Digital Health Management Needs A Makeover To Broaden Its Consumer Appeal', she shows that the average consumer is skeptical about health-tracking technologies. Our respondents believe that using technology to track your health is either for people with a chronic disease or people who are obsessed with their health. Most of them prefer to rely on their doctor for guidance instead.