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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.
It’s been almost a year since I wrote Latin American Social Technographics® Revealed, which demonstrated this group of consumers’ voracious love of social media. In that report I highlighted how this high level of social engagement is not exclusive to just entertaining themselves or connecting with family and friends. In fact, it also extends to interacting with companies, with activities such as reading their blogs, following them on Twitter, or even watching a video they produced.
Given the ease with which companies can connect with online Latin Americans via social media, I’ve now published a new report entitled Take Advantage: Latin American Consumers Are Willing Co-Creators that examines whether companies can extend this interactive and social connection with consumers into the realm of co-creation in the social online world. My colleague Doug Williams, who focuses on co-creation processes for the consumer product strategy professional, defines “social co-creation” as the process of using social technologies as a vehicle to execute co-creation engagements.
To examine the viability of social co-creation in Latin America, we assessed the factors that we feel are crucial for a successful social co-creation engagement to occur. They are:
A high level of engagement with social media — especially at the Conversationalist and Critic levels.
A high degree of interaction with companies using social media tools.
An inherent willingness to co-create with companies.
Whereas in the age of manufacturing, the age of distribution, and most recently the age of information, companies that had the best skills were winning, in this age of the customer, only companies that fully understand their customers’ needs will win over their hearts (and with that, wallet share). And it’s not enough to be customer-centric — in fact, companies should be customer-obsessed. This is not just jargon, it has a real meaning:
A customer obsessed company focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of an engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.
This report is very relevant for market insights professionals because they are the ones that will need to support their organization to understand the (hidden) drivers behind the needs of the customers — and how to delight them. Josh Bernoff shares more of his insights in this blog post, and clients can access the report here.
About six weeks ago, I attended the Mobile Research conference 2011 in London, where a variety of vendors and clients talked about their experiences with mobile as a research methodology. They shared a range of mobile research methodologies, like using text messages in emerging markets, mobile ethnographic studies, geolocation tracking, and mobile behavioral tracking data. You can find most of the presentations here, and if you want to see me in action as roving reporter, you can click here.
During the whole conference, there was a clear line between the benefits and challenges of online research versus mobile research, and how the two can strengthen each other. Then at the end of the second day, someone asked the following question to the audience: “Do you consider tablets a PC or mobile device?” The answer was almost unanimous: a mobile device.
This got me thinking about the whole concept of mobile research in more detail. In fact, I was wondering if something like a mobile research conference would still exist in a couple of years, because the rapid technological developments of smartphones and tablets will blur the line between mobile and online research. Can we, as researchers, continue to define the research methodology in the future, or are the respondents going to do that? This line of thinking led me to ask this question to our community members: Should research be device-agnostic?
Since the dawn of mobile commerce, retailers have dreamed of leveraging mobile phones to deliver an immersive multichannel experience for in-store shoppers. And finally the time seems right. With the uptake of smartphones, it has become much easier for both consumers and retailers to add mobile phones to the purchase process. Retailers have been busy developing mobile web versions of their online stores as well as dedicated mobile shopping applications for iPhone and Android phones.
But how many consumers are using their mobile phones for shopping-related activities? Our Technographics® research shows that about 6% of cell phone owners have used a shopping application. Dedicated shopping applications that allow consumers to research and purchase products directly from their phones, like the ones from Amazon.com or Domino's Pizza, drive uptake and usage.
It is tempting for retailers to use this technology solely for marketing purposes; however, organizations should focus on services that enhance the customer's multichannel experience. Balancing informative notifications with marketing offers will build trust with customers and lead to better acceptance, as well as higher uptake.
During the past 24 months, the industry has seen an explosion of activity and development on the new generation of Android and Apple mobile phones and most recently tablets. In the report 'Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape' Forrester estimates that the revenue from paid applications on smartphones and tablets was $2.2 billion worldwide for 2010.
With all this activity and excitement, enterprises are jumping on the app bandwagon to reach customers and bolster the brand. Forrester’s Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010 shows that IT is stepping up its mobile app plans. Forty-one percent of the 2,124 North American and European software decision-makers surveyed in October 2010 said that increasing the number of mobile applications for employees, customers, and business partners was a high or critical software priority:
However, this will not come easy to IT departments. One of the issues Forrester sees is support: Given the rate of innovation at both the application and device/operating system levels, IT likely has to support three to four releases per year. This rate of change will tax a whole range of IT processes from project management to release management and testing. IT organizations should look for external help to build a platform to support their companies’ mobile plans.
Late last night the market research vendor landscape became a little more consolidated with the announcement that e-Rewards reached an agreement to acquireConversition Strategies. This is not the first, nor probably the last, move that e-Rewards will take in growing a versatile offering in the market research industry. In 2009, e-Rewards, acquired UK-based online panel provider Research Now, which allowed it to become an online panel provider with global reach. And in 2010 e-Rewards acquired Peanut Labs, which enhanced its panel by offering a social media specialty sample that is recruited and surveyed through social and gaming networks. The acquisition of the Conversition platform EvoListen will allow e-Rewards’ clients to listen and analyze, in a market researcher’s terms, what consumers are saying on social media.
This announcement is significant for the market research industry because it:
Earlier this week, I was in “tech geek” heaven because I had the opportunity to participate in IIR’s Technology Driven Market Research Event (TDMR) in Chicago. The purpose of the conference was to showcase how technology has generated new ways for market insights professionals to connect with and understand consumers. Over the course of the two days, the bulk of the presentations focused on two methodologies: social media market research and mobile research, with a smattering of additional presentations on neuroscience and gamification.
TDMR was a great conference. It brought together a core group of 200 market insights professionals who realize that although traditional research methods have their place, as an industry, we need to start understanding and experimenting with new methodologies. In addition, it highlighted how the industry needs to stop dumping data on our clients and instead deliver key insights, make recommendations, and present actionable next steps. These points were especially evident in Merrill Dubrow's high-energy presentation, which addressed how we are seeing an increased number of outsiders questioning how we do things and why we are so slow to innovate. As he stated — with even Glenn Frey’s song blasting in the background — the “heat is on” for the market research industry to change.
Today’s Data Digest topic comes from a personal observation involving my family. Last weekend, my husband was working on our Mac, I was doing some online shopping on my work laptop, and one of our kids was playing games on my husband’s work laptop. And I suddenly wondered: “Is this how a typical household looks, with every household member having their own PC?” So I dived into our Technographics data and found that we are indeed not atypical for our generation: More than 80% of US households have some type of PC, and almost half have more than one. About 77% of Gen X has a desktop PC at home, and 61%, a laptop.
Whether people have one PC or two, and whether those PCs are desktops, laptops, or netbooks, PCs serve different functions for different generations in the household. While Gen Yers are more likely to use their computer for media activities like playing games or watching TV, Gen Xers and Boomers use theirs for more practical functions, such as word processing or managing personal or family finances.
My colleague Thomas Husson wrote a report last year in which he looked at ”The Future Of Application Stores.” Overall, uptake of apps is limited: Only 15% of European smartphone owners report downloading an app on a monthly basis. By contrast, 64% of European iPhone users download apps on a monthly basis. Looking at what consumers are interested in most, Forrester's Technographics® data shows that games, music, weather, news, and social networking top the list for both iPhone and other smartphone users.
Companies that want to develop a mobile strategy should begin with a solid understanding of how mobile-advanced their brand's consumers are and will be. Mobile Technographics® places consumers into groups based on their mobile phone usage. The groups are defined by the extent to which the mobile phone user has adopted mobile data services, the frequency of use of these services, and the level of sophistication in the mobile applications he or she uses.