Seeing The Wood For The Trees – Summarizing The Esomar Congress

Earlier this week, I attended the Esomar Congress in Amsterdam. It was a home game for me, but even I was impressed by the location and its very Dutch look and feel; I felt proud of my country (of course it helps that I’m a big fan of stroopwafels, poffertjes, mature cheese, and bitterballen).

Not only were the surroundings impressive, but so were the presentations. Only a couple of the 20 or so that I saw were average. Most presentations gave a good overview of a new methodology, the client side of the story, and the challenges faced. My personal highlights included the Heineken/TNS presentation, in which they used neuroscience (or more precisely electroencephalography [EEG], biometrics, and eye-tracking) to measure how relevant viewers felt the ad was to them, how excited they were by it, and what areas of the screen they looked at while it played. You can find the summary by Robert Bain of Research Magazine here.

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The Data Digest: Profiling Digital Dads

One of the responsibilities of my role includes analyzing data in complex ways to help our clients understand how their target groups behave and if there are more relevant ways to segment them based on the results. However, sometimes it just makes sense to take a step back and look at some basic demographic profiles as a starting point for further analysis. We developed a new deliverable that we call Demographic Overview, and we kicked off the series with digital dads, followed by digital moms, and these will soon be complemented with digital natives and digital Seniors.

So why is it important for companies to look at dads? Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that s lightly more than one-third of US online men ages 18 to 50 are parents of a child younger than 18 living with them. Companies need to understand how the digital profile of dads differs from non-dads, as their behaviors influence the tech behaviors of their kids.

Some of our findings include that in general, dads are more likely to use the Internet as a resource, while non-dads are more active in entertainment-focused activities such as social networking. But dads know how to use social media to get their point across: 72% of dads who regularly engage in social activities have posted a review of a product or service on Twitter in the past 12 months, as compared with only 57% of non-dads.

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The Data Digest: The Power Of Video

Videos are definitely one of the strongest forms of media in our society nowadays, and there are 48 hours of video uploaded on YouTube per minute: from consumers sharing their creative expressions to companies uploading how-to videos about their products and brands.

These videos help many people in their purchasing process. My colleague recently had to shop for a car, and it’s been interesting to hear about her car shopping journey and how online videos helped her make the ultimate decision. She was interested in one specific car — the 2012 Ford Focus with the Sync with MyFord Touch comes as standard package. The challenge she, and Ford for that matter, encountered was that the majority of car salespeople aren’t that tech-savvy. While they are familiar with the horsepower and the smart-key entry feature, they really struggle to explain how to turn the car into a Wi-Fi hub or how the Sync system can read incoming text messages.

Trying to learn about every available optional feature, my colleague had to turn to the Internet for help. She was able to find demo videos on the Ford Focus website, on YouTube, as well as on her cable TV widgets. These online videos, produced by Ford, auto review sites, as well as tech-savvy online peers, really helped her understand how the optional features of this new product will enhance her ultimate driving experience. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that videos created by other people are the most watched online type of video:

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I’m Happy To Say We’re In Good Company

When you follow the market insights industry as closely as I do, it’s easy to get submerged in the doom and gloom of our role. Of course, there are great presentations and case studies at conferences on emerging methodologies, and we have the awards ceremonies — like Esomar’s Young Researcher of the Year or the AMA 4 under 40 — that highlight the talent in our industry. But in many cases it feels a bit like an in-crowd to me — like we’re the last of the Mohicans.

But I’ve come to realize that market research is still a very interesting profession for many (young) people, who see it as a great career and put their heart and soul into it. I’ve been hiring market insights professionals for my team for close to a year now: first a senior analyst, then a junior position, and finally two consumer insights analysts (one of which is still open). And it has been a great experience!

I’ve met a lot of smart people and I’ve been impressed not only by the candidates’ passion for data and how to link it to business issues, but also with the type of projects they have been working on at their organizations and their interest in new ways of doing research. Most of these projects never get presented as case studies at conferences, and not many people are sharing this knowledge via social media (yet), but the hiring process has left me with a good feeling about the state of our industry. There are plenty of smart young people out there that love doing market research and are very good at it!

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The Data Digest: Smartphone Owners’ Smart Travel Management

Do you remember the last trip that you took? In this season, chances are that it was only last week or last month. As much as we love to travel, ideally for leisure, we are often overwhelmed by all the planning and coordination that are involved in the process — flights, car rentals, lodging, just to begin with. And if you are truly a planner, you want to add the places to dine, events to attend, and attractions to stop by to the itinerary.

Luckily, we are in the technology-centric era. We have websites, software, and devices that help us make life easier. Two companies that I recently came across, TripIt and Traxo, are designed to take care of travelers’ concerns. Much like TripIt, Traxo aims to simplifying travelers' lives by aggregating all of their travel information in one place, but it does so in a more elegant auto-pull manner versus an email push one. Traxo users just need to link their travel accounts to Traxo via a one-time, upfront process, and then Traxo automatically detects all of their trips, miles, and points and intelligently combines them into a single travel dashboard. It also allows members to share experiences with friends and possibly discover where they might have an overlapping trip with another.

But what makes this really interesting is that these services are available for smartphones. In his recent Forrester report “Why Smartphones Will Become One Of Travel’s Two Most Important Touchpoints”, my colleague Henry Harteveldt points out that “travelers are up to three times more likely than all US adults to have a smartphone.” 

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The Data Digest: Interest In Mobile Payments

PayPal recently shared its new peer-to-peer payment functionality that allows Android users to pay each other by tapping two Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled devices together. A user enters the transaction information and then taps her phone up against another phone also equipped with the same PayPal widget. After the phones buzz together, the recipient can decide to send or receive money by entering a PIN number.
Sounds very interesting, but are consumers interested in this functionality?

My colleague Charlie Golvin recently blogged about the Google Wallet initiative and its hurdles, one of them being lack of consumer interest. In fact, our Technographics® surveys show that interest in mobile payments is low and has not translated into activity in the US: Less than 6% of US online adults have ever used any type of mobile payment. Over the past three years, Forrester has seen interest in mobile payments continue to grow slowly.

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The Data Digest: Online Shopping — Researching Versus Purchasing

Recently, my colleague Jackie Anderson published a report, Understanding Online Shopper Behaviors, US 2011, and she indicated that 2010 online retail spending in the US had reached $175.2 billion and will grow at double-digit rates at least for another few years.

But among all the items that can be purchased online, some are more popular than others. We have extracted the top three and bottom three items that consumers research online and purchase online based on data from our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey, Q3 2010 (US). The data shows that while online consumers are generally comfortable with both researching and purchasing books, hotel reservations, and airline tickets online, they still prefer to purchase footwear, consumer electronics, and household products from traditional channels.
 

About one-third of US Internet users aren't shopping online yet. The majority of them do use the Internet to research products but don't feel comfortable making the purchases online. The biggest barrier people mention for not buying online is their need to see things in person.

Can Data Visualization Tools Improve The Communication Of Market Research Findings?

Recently, I've posted a question on our Market Insight Community about data visualization. Why? Because infographics are hot. Follow the infographic (#infographic) topic on Twitter and you’ll see a constant stream of new graphics. A recent example of a market-research-related one is this one from The New York Times that shows you how many households in the US have a similar set-up. And this week I tweeted a link to an interview with a company called Tableau Software that helps organizations visualize big data and works with organizations like The Wall Street Journal and CNN Money to create interactive graphics like this one on foreclosure filings.

But what is the role of data visualization in market research? There are numerous posts and contributions about the importance of storytelling for market insights professionals. Will data visualization tools help in engaging our audience with data? Can it be our way of telling a story? David McCandless talked about the beauty of visualization last year at a TED event. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.

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The Data Digest: The Uptake Of Home Networks In Europe

With more and more devices having the possibility to connect to the Internet wireless, including handheld games, smartphones, game consoles, and tablets, we were interested in the uptake of wireless home networks in Europe. We asked Europeans the following question: "A home network allows you to share an Internet connection among multiple PCs or go online from multiple rooms of the house. Home networks also allow PCs to share a printer or connect with other devices. Do you have a home network?"

Forrester's European Technographics© data shows that about half of Europeans already have a home network and more than half of these are wireless or a mix of wireless and wired. And although this isn't a huge increase from 2008, when 20% of online Europeans had a wireless home network and 8% had a combination of wired and wireless, we do expect home networks to see more uptake in Europe in the next couple of years.

Three-quarters of online Europeans with a wireless home network share an Internet connection among multiple PCs, and 17% have already connected their PC to their TV set. Wireless networks are popular among families and multiple-PC households: 86% of wireless home network owners have more than one PC at home, and 40% have children living at home.

The Data Digest: Urban China’s Mobile Internet Use Is Double That Of The US

While it is no news that China leads the world’s online population, hitting 477 million users as of March 2011, it is interesting to look at the uptake of mobile Internet in urban China and see how that compares with other regions. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that urban China is chasing Japan closely, with 43% of mobile phone users reporting they access the mobile Internet at least monthly. This number doubles that of the US (although the US number represents all Americans, rural and urban), which ranked as the third market in this study. While my gut feeling tells me that urban China’s mobile Internet adoption is comparable to that of the developed markets, this result is still striking because the smartphone market in China did not kick off officially until the end of 2009.

Just last month, China Mobile, the dominant mobile service provider with 60% national market share, announced its plan to lower rates for both calls and data plans by an average of at least 15%. And on Monday, China Daily reported that the number of China’s microbloggers was forecast to reach 100 million this year and will increase to 253 million by 2013.*

The booming popularity of microblogging in China, coupled with the fact that mobile Internet is becoming more affordable, means that urban Chinese will not forgo the convenience that mobile Internet provides. We know another wave of growth is approaching. It is just the matter of how high the wave can reach.

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