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Smart insights: Technology

In today’s connected society, technology impacts all industries - driving opportunities and accelerating the speed of innovation.

To stay competitive, technology companies need to understand consumers’ evolving experiences and choices.

Our technology market research experts deliver smart insights to create engaging and relevant concept designs, product positioning, advertising and customer experiences. Our technology industry expertise spans IT and IT B2B, consumer electronics (CE), photo, office equipment and telecommunications market performance, consumer research and trends.

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    • 01/21/16
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Technology
    • Media Measurement
    • South Africa
    • English

    Is it a Netflix world after all?

    Netflix’s recent announcement of their international expansion in 2016 is not unexpected, but still somewhat breathtaking in its scope. While it may seem natural to those in the United States, where Netflix holds a dominant position in the Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) space and in other early markets where it is a well-known brand, but this latest overseas growth is not as much “a sure thing” elsewhere.

    Eight key concerns for entering developing markets

    Certainly Netflix will enter these new markets with a well-known brand name, which may be less connected to its actual content than to the fact that US-originating digital brands often have a leg-up on local brands. Netflix will generally appeal to affluent, Western-oriented consumers outside of the North American and Western European markets. But Netflix will have a number of concerns when entering these other developing markets that make up much of the dozens being added. These include:
    • Local competitors in the Pay TV or streaming space may themselves have a dominant position. GfK works with a number of providers in the markets in which Netflix has newly launched to understand how their services are consumed. We often see a large cohort of subscribers actively viewing the kind of on-demand content that Netflix dominates in the US. These are consumers who are well served by streaming or on-demand content. For example, local South East Asian player iFlix has already built up an impressive half million subscribers in a short space of time.
    • The streaming rights to local content of interest may be held exclusively by other services.
    • The streaming rights to even Netflix’ own content may still be controlled by other providers, based on older agreements.
    • Netflix’ original, exclusive Western-focused content may not have an appeal in different cultures. Again, GfK’s work in providing Return Path Data (RPD) services have taught us that local content is absolutely crucial in building a strong customer base – even in markets where the kind of Western-oriented programming in which Netflix concentrates is popular. Netflix itself recognizes this by focusing much of its strategy on creating local content for its various markets.
    • There may be local laws regarding a certain level of locally originating content.
    • Internet access in certain countries may be limited across the population or intermittent.
    • The governments or entities controlling Internet access may arbitrarily cut access based on disagreement with content, or may use such power to censor or control what content is offered.
    • In many markets, particularly in APAC, advertiser-supported or illegal websites are often well established as sources for watching video content. So there may be resistance to paying for content that consumers have traditionally accessed by other ‘free’ means.

    Netflix’s big data advantage

    That being said, Netflix has consistently outperformed expectations of industry experts and those in the financial markets. Its daring moves in the past have mostly panned out. And, aside from content, it has an understanding of its consumers – through the use of its own collected big data – with which few of its potential competitors can hope to compare. As for its competitors, frenemies, and partners – some being all three – the growth of Netflix raises questions that only third-party accounting of Netflix can answer. This way their competition or partnership with Netflix is on a more level playing field. What do you think about Netflix’s expansion? Do you see other challenges? I would like to hear your opinion as well.
    For more information, please contact me at david.tice@gfk.com.
    • 07/31/14
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Consumer Goods
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • South Africa
    • English

    Additional African countries added to GfK Global consumer study

    GfK now offers insights specifically into African consumers within the ‘GfK Roper Reports Worldwide’ study. For global brands, this kind of information furthers a deeper under-standing that helps them retain relevance in the African market.
    • 01/19/17
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    Four reasons I won’t be going to CES next year (and four reasons I probably will!)

    I have been to CES on and off since the mid 2000’s.  My friends and colleagues typically ask me ‘how was CES?,’ expecting some techno-prophesy. There are no pithy, tweet-worthy phrases to sum up ‘how it was’.  CES is a techno-orgy; it’s like no place else.  It both attracts and repels you simultaneously. In reflecting on what I saw, there are a number of disappointments that make me say I really don’t need to go back.  Let me enumerate:
    1. Let me say it again, redundancy.  After the first 20 ‘smart light bulbs’ or ‘drones’ or ‘fitness trackers’, the brain goes numb.  Much of CES is evolution than revolution and thus finding the signal in the noise of the total product array can prove challenging.
    2. Not to be too obvious, but it bears mentioning, the focus is, in my view, entirely too much on Electronics and not enough on the Consumer. As someone more interested in the consumer experience than the electronics, I think the technology can serve itself and not the user. There are so many items displayed that I believe are solutions in need of a problem. Just because we can, does not mean we should.
    3. Similar to the previous point, technology need not solve every problem. I virtually had a panic attack when I saw a ‘dental floss’ device that I feared was Bluetooth enabled.  Thankfully, it was ‘just’ digital (dispensing and reminding), and not connected.  Even then, I’m not sure I need a digital dental floss dispenser.  Perhaps on a more culturally disturbing level, I saw several manifestations of robots for children – to be their friend, to be their helper, to rock them to sleep, etc.  The need that drives this kind of technology is indicative of perhaps larger issues.  My colleague Meredith Paige coined the term ‘Impersonal Care’ to describe this.  Much of the technological solutions displayed are of marginal value – ‘is the juice worth the squeeze?’
    4. On an entirely practical level, with all the media coverage, do I really need to be there in person? In using my Fitbit, I walked (wandered, actually) about six miles each day and felt like I had only seen the bare minimum of the show.  There’s always more to see.  There is no bottom.  So I’m thinking that since most of the media curates the important stuff, what if I just sat back and dialed in to CES Live, Engadget, CNET, press outlets, bloggers, etc?  I’d capture the most far-out and breathtaking developments from the comfort of my own home.
    While I continue to be concerned about what technology is doing to us intellectually, socially, and culturally, there are several reasons I will most likely return year on year:
    1. There are real human problems being solved in new and interesting ways. Technology is being used to make us safer (e.g., in automobiles), augment our senses (smart hearing aids), reduce waste (energy usage), etc.  Unfortunately, you’ve got to go through layers and layers to get to the important/interesting stuff.
    2. Concentration of so much technology in one small space – you can explore drones, cars, robots, appliances, etc. in a small space. If one is looking for category trends or cross-category trends they can be found in ways just not possible through the media, online or in a store.
    3. It’s a great way to stimulate the brain coming off the holidays. The whole environment is invigorating (or, for some, chaotic!).  New ideas are everywhere.  There are amazing people to meet, and some great ideas to build around.
    4. And lastly, it’s just a lot of fun. You get to see, do and try things that you might not get a chance to do anywhere else.  (When else am I going to meet and talk to Nick Offerman?)
    Next time I’m going with a plan.  I find the really interesting things are from smaller vendors, especially those in the Eureka! Hall and those startups funded by large companies (Sony had some really interesting startups present). Second, if you’re there and you want to know what’s hot, look at the crowds.  For really cool stuff, it may look as if the piranhas are feeding on the carcass of some poor erstwhile beast.  There’s usually something there. Next year, let’s hope for more revolution, more relevance, and more fun! Robert Schumacher is an Executive Vice President of User Experience at GfK. Please email robert.schumacher@gfk.com with your comments.
    • 01/18/17
    • Technology
    • Global
    • English

    Get to know me: The emotional appeal of technology showcased at CES 2017

    Amazon’s Alexa was one of the stars, if not THE star of the 2017 CES show.  What is the broader theme that piques our interest?  Is it because Alexa acts as a central hub that “connected things” run on?  Yes, partly.  I believe another key reason that Alexa was the star of CES is the personification of machines and the emotional appeal that comes with it.  This is a broader and very important theme that emerged at this year’s CES.  Across many of the exhibit halls, we saw devices promising to be your friend.

    Emotional appeal and the personification of machines

    Robots with a human stance were built to greet and help you at an airport.   Toyota’s new concept car promoted the vision of artificial intelligence that could learn your needs, grow with you, and yes, love!!  This was billed as more than a machine.  It will be your partner.

    Making technology relatable

    There’s something about LG’s application of Alexa that gets to know all of your needs when you get home that makes this technology relatable.  It can warm up your house to a perfect temperature, turn on the lights, put on your favorite music, heat up the oven, and so on.  Can it bring your slippers when you sit down on the couch? I’m sure that can be arranged.   We’ve gone from “take me to your leader,” to “let me fold your laundry.”  Laundry folding robots using image analysis can take care of this tedious household chore for you now.   The AvatarMind iPal(™) Robots For Children, Eldercare, and Hospitality/Retail are billed as caretakers for your kids or your elderly parents.   Even the way marketers and reviewers talk about devices can put a “human face” on it.  Now there are drones that are concerned about how they dress – “too awesome to fly casual.”   Of course, to succeed, all of these technologies must address a need, but don’t underestimate the power of bringing the emotional benefits together with the rational benefits these new technologies deliver.  I look forward to seeing how this develops in years to come at CES and beyond! To share your thoughts, please email rob.barrish@gfk.com.

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