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GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers' experiences and choices.

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    • 04/25/17
    • Technology
    • Global
    • English

    Digital Home Assistants: Are marketers listening closely?

    Digital home assistants (DHAs) – such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Google Home – have made great strides in a short amount of time.  Just two years after the Amazon Echo launch, slightly more than one in ten (11%) US households own a DHA, according to the latest findings from GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor.

    The right product at the right time

    This seems to be a case of the right product at the right time.  With the advent of Siri and Cortana, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with using their voices to control devices.  Our research shows that three-quarters of all US consumers have used speech to operate some sort of digital device – be it a smartphone or a smart TV. Despite the progress DHAs have made, though, their adoption level is still lower than tablets and DVD players at the same point in the same time “in market”. To tap DHAs’ full potential for market growth, marketers need to address two key issues:
    • Compatibility and seamlessness of working with other devices
    • Privacy and security
    The rebound in the housing market also has the potential to fuel DHA adoption.  GfK’s Consumer Life research, as reported in Tech Trends 2017, shows that Millennials represent just over one-half (53%) of those who plan to buy a home in the next two to three years – and they are also key to smart home adoption.  DHAs show potential as a controller device to save energy, keep their home safe and secure, and maintain a healthy living environment.

    How consumers are using DHA’s now

    We can gain great insights on how to unlock DHAs’ potential by looking at the ways consumers are using them now.  For example, nearly two thirds of DHA owners (63%) use them to play music.  By contrast, only 15% turn to them to play videos, watch TV, or movies – even though nearly one-half (43%) of US homes have an Internet-connected TV that they use to watch TV and movies.  This disconnect begs the question: What is holding consumers back from riding the video wave with their DHAs? The answer is clear: A lack of seamlessness! Currently, Google Home has built-in compatibility with Google’s Chromecast; however, Amazon Echo (which accounts for 10 out of every 11 DHAs owned) and Dot are not easily connected with smart TVs.  To make these devices talk to each other, users need to connect through a hub such as Samsung’s Smartthings or Logitech’s Harmony hub.  These are extra steps that the mass market may not take kindly to. At the 2017 CES, some TV manufacturers announced FireTV with Alexa built into their next generation TVs.  This development promises little to no set-up and a more seamless experience. DHAs show promise with other smart home use cases, with nearly one-fourth (23%) of DHA owners indicating that they use the devices to control their home lighting, thermostats, fans or security systems.  Manufacturers’ great progress in making their home products IoT-ready is starting to pay off!  The 2017 CES was rife with products featuring Alexa built-in, ranging from refrigerators to lighting to robots.

    Choosing the right standard for DHA’s

    A related compatibility question consumers are asking themselves is, “Which DHA should I hitch my wagon to?”  If I’m an Apple or Samsung lover, should I hold out for Siri or Bixby – or do I go with the first thing that works?  When a new technology comes out, choosing the right standard is really critical; no one wants to buy the next Betamax. You want to own the device that will speak to the largest number of other devices. Marketers also need to address some important privacy and security challenges. For example:
    • How long does a DHA keep voice recordings?
    • How does it protect the confidentiality of the owner and separate personally identifiable information (PII) from behaviors?
    • How can owners prevent the sharing of data to 3rd parties despite the potential commercial reward?
    • How do we protect the security of customers’ financial data?
    When exploring pain points, consumers in the GfK study expressed concerns about the possibility of hacks on their personal data.  It will only take one or two more DHA privacy stories in the news to turn this into a real impediment to uptake. As we run headlong into this Brave New World controlled by DHAs powered by artificial intelligence, marketers have great responsibility to help guide standards that will make for a seamless, life-improving and safe experience. Rob Barrish is a Global Account Director at GfK.  To share your thoughts, please email rob.barrish@gfk.com.
    • 04/25/17
    • Global
    • English

    Thumbs up or down: Can emojis help make surveys smartphone friendly?

    Many of us walk around with a high–powered, Internet-enabled computer in hand or nearby at all times of the day. For some, the smartphone is the first thing they reach for when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they put down at night. Increasingly we are turning to our smartphones to fill the downtime as we wait for our turn in a checkout line or kill time in a waiting room before an appointment. It is the “do-everything” device that assists us in dozens of ways every day. For survey researchers, this means that more and more respondents are looking to take our online surveys on their smartphones. But in many cases, the survey experience is not yet optimized for mobile – respondents take far longer to complete a survey on their smartphones than those who take the same survey on a desktop or laptop computer. As a result, we see lower quality data and higher breakoff rates among smartphone respondents. As an industry, we need to find creative solutions to help these respondents take our surveys on the devices of their choice, including the small-screened smartphone. This means that long, wordy surveys with intricate, equally long answer options practically guarantee that there will be noise in the data.

    Converting survey response scales to a mobile-friendly design

    If we think about how to communicate with as few words as possible, what comes to mind? Emojis are a wordless language consisting of small images – the smiley face, of course, but also many variations that express a range of emotions. Their minimal footprint presents an intriguing possibility for helping convert survey response scales to a mobile-friendly design. Similarly, a scale made up of numbers with no corresponding response labels would have a small footprint. As an example, here’s a question asked with a traditional semantic-labeled response scale: And that same question and response scaled conveyed with emojis: Finally, that same response scale conveyed with numerics: These simple symbols clearly make sense for smartphone communicating. The question becomes – do we get differences in response when we use the different scales? If we were to consider using these alternative response scales, we need to be sure that emojis and numeric scales convey meaning — and gradations in meaning – quickly.  Can respondents use them to answer more quickly and as accurately as with the more traditional semantic-labeled scale? With support from the Advertising Research Foundation, we conducted a study to investigate these questions.

    Do emojis increase the efficiency of survey responses?

    We asked respondents how much they liked or disliked doing a series of five activities and randomly assigned them to a response type – the semantic, emoji, or numeric response labels. In looking at efficiency of response, we found that longer scales with more categories meant longer completion times for semantic, but not emoji or numeric labels. Numeric labels took the least amount of time to complete. So we do see some increased efficiency with these new scale formats over the traditional semantically labeled scales. Further, these new answer types created a consistency in response across device and response label type; there was no difference in average means across devices, regardless of the type of label a respondent was assigned to see. We also asked respondents how often they engaged in each of the behaviors to help us assess validity; activities that people like to do should also be activities they do more frequently. In looking at the correlations between activity enjoyment and frequency, we saw no difference in validity across the various response-scale types. This means that the emoji and numeric response scales were just as valid as the more traditional semantic labels.

    Finding a smartphone-friendly response format

    Overall, we found emojis may be a viable, smartphone-friendly response format if they are used with care. However, the use of emojis did limit the types of questions we could ask – we could only ask questions that allowed us to use the most basic and universal emojis (straightforward smiling and frowning faces or thumbs up and down). In addition, we were not able to come up with a clear and easy-to-interpret emoji response scale that could measure importance or frequency. Emojis lend themselves better to evaluative scales (good-bad judgments or agreement scales, for example).  Although some topics might not be appropriate for use with emojis, as in the following example: So perhaps thumbs sideways on emojis for now – if you are going to consider using them, take note of the limitations we mentioned. Numeric labels may be a more efficient label type with equal validity as the other label types. We are currently working to extend these findings across topic areas. This article was co-authored by Frances Barlas, Ph.D. and Randall Thomas.   Frances Barlas, Ph.D. is Vice President, Research Methods on the Sampling Statistics team at GfK. She can be reached at frances.barlas@gfk.com.   Randall Thomas is Senior Vice President, Research Methods on the Public Communications and Social Sciences team at GfK. He can be reached at randall.thomas@gfk.com.
    • 04/25/17
    • Global Study
    • Global
    • English

    Nearly twice as many people prefer relaxing vacations to active ones

    Explore the different groups by income, age, and gender across 17 countries in our full report.
    • 04/25/17
    • Global Study
    • Global
    • English

    Global study: preferred vacation type

    Download our full report and find out which nations prefer relaxing vacations and who decides for active holidays.
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