You don’t need to be a market researcher to notice a shift in how products are marketed to women. While seeing less pink and weird blue fluids are well received in my book, I have noticed something about the way some of these ads are framed, particularly in think pieces from marketing and advertising newsletters that I wasn’t sure if I agreed with: hailing these advertisements as empowering to women. I fully support efforts that educate consumers and provide them with the necessary information to make best decisions for themselves. But I had to wonder what exactly does it mean for these advertisements to empower women and do they really hit the mark? Read More
I remember when virtual reality tried to go mainstream in the mid-80s, big, heavy headsets and poor computer graphics let you walk around a world that looked like a big pixel. It was interesting but even the teenage me was unimpressed. Jump forward to now and virtual reality has become cheap and nimble.
Enter Google Cardboard. For about $15 you can have a virtual reality headset sent to you. Slide your smartphone in, put your headphones on and you’re off.
Sure there are more expensive headsets from Samsung or Facebook, but why bother? The experience on Google Cardboard is excellent enough to make you lose your balance or walk into chairs.
The New York Times sent its subscribers a free headset a while back and has been putting excellent content on its VR app: NYT VR. For now it’s just a cool toy, but I can see how the marriage of cheap headsets, smartphones, and apps, will lead to new ways to communicate, learn, get the news, etc.
Even though fall has just officially began, many familiar autumn products have been on the shelves for what seems like quite some time. From flannel and sweaters to pumpkin everything, many consumers suspect fall trends make their way earlier and earlier each year. However, this is more than speculation as some fall products have indeed joined in on extra early releases. For example, this year Southern Tier Brewing Company released the popular imperial pumpkin ale, Pumking, as early as July.
Pumpkin beers, like their warm and caffeinated cousin the Pumpkin Spice Latte, tend to be a love it or hate it product. However, in spite of pumpkin beer’s polarity, there’s no denying the significance of its market presence. In 2013, according to Craft Brewing Business, pumpkin beer sales turned a 125,000 lag in case sales into a 300,000 case surplus. Each year, more and more craft breweries offer up a pumpkin beer for their fall line ups to meet the consumer demand. BeerAdvocate currently has over 900 different pumpkin beers listed on their website, many with delightfully punny names.
Additionally, interest and demand in pumpkin beers also has an earlier start in the year and only shows signs of increasing. According to Brewers Association research, Google searches for “pumpkin beer” in 2014 edged out searches for all other seasonal beers and even outsold the reigning craft champion style, the IPA, in the fall.
As pumpkin beer interest and sales continue to expand past a narrow and arbitrary association with October and Halloween, it will be interesting to see how it influences consumers’ perceptions of craft and seasonal beers. Will beer drinkers accept pumpkin beer in July or year round with open pint glasses or meet it with a raised brow?
For more information on consumers’ seasonal thirst for other pumpkin products, check out the latest report from Neilson here. For a more in-depth look at craft beer in North Carolina, read last year’s W5 blog post here.
Technology and the way people interact with devices have always been in our DNA here at W5. We continue to be intrigued and curious to understand, and help our clients understand, the role of technology in consumers’ lives. As we become more and more connected and the Internet of Things (IoT) infiltrates more and more objects – from cars and homes, to watches and belts – people’s expectations, perceived value and barriers to adoption will shift. Anticipating these shifts will be advantageous for companies looking to secure market, and wallet share moving forward.
The CES, Consumer Electronic Show, is a hot bed for innovation. This year’s show features products from Mercedes-Benz F 015, a self-driving concept car, to LG’s multitasking Twin Wash washing machine and everything in between. While some products are closer than others to hitting the marketplace, the bigger question is which products will actually be meaningful to consumers? In this video, Google Think speaks to Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Consumer Electronics Association, Ryan Barnett, Partner Technology Manager on Android Wear; Henry Newton-Dunn, designer on Android; and Avinash Kaushik, Google digital marketing evangelist to get their take on the big trends and what they mean for businesses.
Beyond the Tech Trends: A CES 2015 Recap highlights key questions companies should consider as daily life continues to be reimagined including:
- Are we there for customers in the moments they need us?
- Are we gathering the right data and insights and getting smarter and better with each customer interaction?
- Are we embracing speed as a value in everything we do?
- Can we reimagine our business to create breakthroughs?
Check out Google Think’s full article here.
The 17th Annual Black Hat cybersecurity conference wraps up today in Las Vegas. The conference rallies hackers, cybersecurity researchers and feds to discuss the latest hacks and newly found bugs. The hottest topic this year: challenging the security of Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT refers to the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing like devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. A few examples include smart TVs, webcams, wearable technologies, home thermostats, remote power outlets, sprinkler controls and automatic door locks, a natural target for hackers. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 and ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020. And, while the IoT marketplace is forecasting to grow exponentially, plenty of us are already connected.
Is it easy to hack common IoT devices? Apparently so. A study by HP reveals that 70 percent of the most common IoT devices had security vulnerabilities ranging from the recent Heartbleed bug to weak password requirements. How Safe is your Quantified Self, a report by Symantec “found security risks in a large number of self-tracking devices and applications,” including the finding that “all of the wearable activity-tracking devices examined, including those from leading brands, are vulnerable to location tracking.”
What happens if your fitness tracker gets hacked? According to Symantec, the perpetrators could know:
• Mileage you are covering
• When and where you usually go running
• Where you live
• Your age, sex, height, and weight
• Your heart rate
• Your altitude
• Where and when you are on vacation
Curious to see how wearable technologies, smartphones, apps and social media have changed the way people use the Internet and interact with technology? Check out this infographic by 4A’s and Statista:
Consumer insights research is an extremely fascinating line of work for those with an innate curiosity about what makes people and the world around us tick. Through the research we conduct we get to continually learn about a broad diversity of industries, brands, and consumers as we dive into uncovering insights and finding solutions to the specific challenges facing our clients. We also, however, get an interesting read on the broader cultural, social, and business macro-trends that cause the anxieties that lead to the requests for research that cross our desks.
Over the last year there has been increasing interest among clients wanting to conduct consumer journey research as they seek to make sense of, and strategize against, the multitude of digital touchpoints that consumers face across the multiscreen world that has officially “arrived,” according to Google CEO Larry Page. As e-commerce and retail sales through mobile devices increases exponentially, everyone wants to be sure they are on that train as to avoid becoming the proverbial BlackBerry of the mobile communications game.
However, considering the possibility that we may be missing the forest for the trees, it would do us well to take a step back from our myopic focus on all things digital, mobile, and multiscreen to take the broader view about where people are actually spending their money. As it turns out, e-commerce accounts for only about 6% of retail sales in the U.S.
This is not to say that 6% of retail sales is insignificant. U.S. online retail sales are predicted to be $262 billion this year, have grown at an average yearly rate of nearly 18%, and are expected to grow at 10% a year through 2017. It is also worth noting that retailers like Nordstrom who have invested heavily in e-commerce and mobile strategy are seeing a return on their investment and certain industries (e.g., books and music) have been drastically changed as a result of e-commerce. Finally, we only need to remember that at one point in the not too distant past only 6% of people in the U.S. used the internet and that forward thinking business opportunities, like the internet stock bubble and NBA draft picks, are based on expectations for future potential.
But what shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this excitement about the seemingly endless opportunity around online and mobile engagement and shopping is the value of brick-and-mortar stores for consumers and retail brands. Even Amazon, the soon to be #2 global retailer behind Walmart whose existence is solely based on online sales, is interested in opening retail stores.
A recent study conducted by A.T. Kearney titled “Recasting the Retail Store in Today’s Omnichannel World,” concluded that “while retailers need to continue to provide customers the ability to shop where and when they want, it is equally important to make the store the place people want to shop.” Brick-and-mortar stores provide, perhaps most importantly, an opportunity for consumers to experience instant gratification, a basic trait of human nature. Retail stores also provide a location for consumers to enjoy the social aspect of shopping with friends or family as well as an opportunity for retailers to build relationships and loyalty with their customers through personalized face-to-face service.
Shopping at brick-and-mortar stores is also much more likely to lead to impulse purchases, with 40% of respondents saying they spend more than they planned to in stores compared to 25% who spend more than anticipated online. While the internet is ideal for researching and discovering products and brands from the comfort of the couch, it seems the unanticipated discovery that is experienced in-store is more likely to lead to an actual purchase, perhaps because in-person spontaneous purchases fulfill our desire and instinct for instant gratification.
Considering the positive aspects of shopping at brick-and-mortar for both consumers and retailers, the challenge becomes figuring out how to integrate desktop and mobile digital touchpoints and e-commerce with the brick-and-mortar retail experience to create an interconnected brand ecosystem. A practical and easy way of creating a multichannel retail experience that has the potential of improving sales and consumer/brand relationships is offering and encouraging consumers to pick-up or return products purchased online in the retail store which, as it turns out, they actually prefer. For all the focus on the importance of free shipping, offering an incentive for additional purchases when coming into the store to either pick-up or return something purchased online could be a purchase motivator on par with free shipping. Getting these consumers in-store gets them closer to experiencing that feeling of instant gratification while also offering the retail brand an opportunity to create personalized social interactions with the consumer.
While digital and mobile strategy is clearly the hot topic driving much of the creative innovation and research these days, integrating these efforts with opportunities for in-store retail engagement cannot be ignored and should be considered as an integral part of strategic initiatives. That is, until the day that we can purchase something on our mobile device and have it instantly teleported to wherever we are. Teleportation will undoubtedly be a retail disruptor the likes of which we have not yet seen, and at that point all bets are off!
Despite constantly clicking “I agree” with the Terms of Service, consumers do not get Digital Rights Management. From the consumer perspective, the digital age was supposed to give them their content whenever and where ever they want it. Things like sports blackouts or preventing sharing digital files don’t make sense to them, regardless of how the content provider might explain it. One company, however, seems to be blurring the lines between physical and digital content for consumers: Amazon.com. Earlier this year, Amazon introduced AutoRip. This service provided a digital copy for every physical CD you purchase through Amazon FOR FREE. Now, they’re doing the same thing for books.
This week, Amazon released Kindle Matchbook that will provide a free (or pretty deeply discounted) e-book edition of all the physical books you have purchased from them. The service will provide it for titles you bought all the way back to 1995.
I think the lesson Amazon has learned is that consumers view digital versions as cheaper/easier/more disposable. The idea that they’re valued at the same level as the physical artifact is often viewed as unfair by consumers. Record companies are starting to learn this, especially by giving away digital versions when consumers purchase vinyl. It will be interesting to see how Amazon is able to push content developers into being more consumer friendly.
One year ago, drones dominated the Paris Air Show. Manufactured by major defense contracts, these drones were positioned as the future of warfare (and had a price tag to match in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars). Last month, the Hobby Expo China in Beijing featured similar drone with the same capabilities as the military ones (minus being able to blow stuff up). The difference? Many of these drones came with a price tag of less than a $1000. It’s no wonder open source drones, like the ArduCopter Quad from 3D Robotics, now outnumber military drones in the U.S.
What do drones and market research have in common? Well, nothing…yet. But reading Noah Shachtman article, 5 Drones at Work, there seems to be a common thread or strength if you will, of observation depicted. Drones that inspect oil equipment, conduct police reconnaissance, check on crops, and survey wildlife. In a sense, one could argue this is a form of ethnographic research, as ethnography simply aims to describe the nature of that which is being observed or studied (whether it be consumers, crops or wildlife).
At W5, observational ethnography is used to evaluate consumer behavior in detail, identifying meaningful patterns and themes that emerge through sustained, structured observation of people engaging in activities such as browsing, buying and trying products, or using services. By recognizing such patterns and themes and finding their underlying meaning, W5 ethnographers highlight the points of inflection at which consumers are most susceptible to influence, as well as develop a holistic picture of the market environment. Now, imagine a drone the size of a butterfly doing the observing. Impossible? Impossible like conducting Focus Groups in a virtual, online room? Impossible like collected data via mobile devices? Possibly.
There are, of course, existing rules and regulations that address a future where people, companies and police all command tiny aircrafts. (See Rules for Proper Droning for answers to questions like ‘Can I use a drone to spy on my sexy neighbor?’ or ‘Could a police drone look in my window for drugs?’) Chris Anderson, co-founder of 3D Robotics, reminds us “the military created the Internet, but the people colonized it and created the web for their own purposes. The amateur UAV community is hoping to do the same with drones—demilitarize and democratize them so they can find their full potential. There will be good uses and bad ones, but the same is true of any tool, from a crowbar to an ultrasound machine. Ultimately the way society best figures out how to think about a powerful new technology is to set it free and watch where it flies.”