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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.

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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.
    • 05/23/17
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Point of Sales Analytics
    • Global
    • English

    Maximize your media effectiveness and investment with our five-step program

    In our interactive white paper, we share our five-step program for maximizing your media effectiveness and achieving more for your marketing budget. 
    • 05/11/17
    • Technology
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Looking for the future of mobile? Take a trip to Beijing

    ‘You can do without a wallet in Beijing these days but not without a smartphone.’ This came from the cab driver who picked me up at Beijing International airport when I landed with my mother last fall for the first trip back to my home country (and hometown) in years. He was completely right. Over the following weeks, I grew a renewed appreciation for my iPhone (now powered by a local SIM card), and constantly found myself pulling it out for all the things I had never used it for – to help open a bank account (you have to have a local mobile number and a phone that can at least receive authentication codes to be able to open an account in China), to make online reservations at restaurants (many of them don’t take reservations over the phone), to book an online appointment at a local salon and get a nice discount for the visit, to use an app to call cabs (Didi, the world largest ride-hailing service with nearly 400 million users across 40 cities in China), and of course, to make in-store purchases by scanning QR codes. Having followed and reported on tech trends for years, I was prepared for the role of smartphones in China. However, being there to experience and witness the smartphone culture first-hand, I still couldn’t help but constantly marvel at how involved my fellow citizens are today with their beloved phones.
    • Chinese are now the most engaged mobile phone users globally: Many visitors to China would probably share my amazement at Chinese consumers’ high smartphone engagements. According to data from GfK Consumer Life, Chinese today use their mobile phones to do more than their peers in any of the other 21 countries covered in our global study. On average, 61% of online Chinese consumers age 15+ did at least seven out of fourteen consistently tracked activities on their mobile phones in the past month, from social networking to online banking. This compares with 57% in South Korea, 34% in the US, and 32% in the UK.
    • Older consumers drive the latest growth: It’s no longer just tech-savvy younger Chinese who are inseparable with their phones. Increasingly, it’s their grey-haired parents – and grandparents – as well.

      The biggest increase in mobile phone engagement since 2014 came from older Chinese age 50+, whose growing fascination with their phones was visible when we toured around Beijing. From restaurants to buses to community parks, I was always able to spot seniors being totally immersed in the little screens in their palms. By the end of our trip, my mom’s group of 70-80 year-old friends had convinced her to install WeChat, China’s massively popular mobile social networking app with now 889 million users. And content sharing to her account has been flowing non-stop ever since.
    • China dwarfs the US in mobile commerce and payments: Our taxi driver wasn’t kidding when he said that you can survive in China’s large cities without a traditional wallet, as long as you’re equipped with a mobile one.

      From tiny street vendors to large supermarkets, numerous retailers of all types in Beijing accept mobile payments, often through popular apps Alipay and WeChat Pay. China’s relatively low plastic card penetration also contributes to the appeal of mobile wallets as a convenient non-cash alternative.

      Of course, smartphones are used not only for in-store payments, but online purchases. The latest data from GfK Consumer Life indicates that 61% of online Chinese mobile phone users used their handsets to buy something online in the past month, up 17 pts from 2014. This compares with 28% of American users, up 7 pts in the same time period. Last year, China’s biggest online shopping day Single’s Day raked in an eye-popping $17.8 billion in sales, with 82% coming from mobile transactions. To put that into perspective, last year’s record-setting Cyber Monday rang in $3.45 billion, with mobile accounting for around one-third of that revenue.
    • Chinese companies on the rise in mobile technologies: Chinese consumers’ high engagement with their smartphones can be attributed in part to the innovative solutions from local tech giants.

      Tencent’s WeChat, launched in 2011, has built itself into a ‘super app’ that allows users to not only make video calls and group chat, but shop, make payments, book a hotel, hail a ride and play games all on one intuitive platform. Its ‘super app’ approach is often seen as inspiring even to tech giants in the West.
    With a willing consumer and increasingly sophisticated local players, China is poised to continue to lead the evolution of the mobile culture. Brands trying to crack the Chinese market must recognize the essential role of mobile in the lives of these consumers. And for those curious about the future of mobile technologies, China – not the US – may be the closest to offer a glimpse. Veronica Chen is Vice President at GfK Consumer Life. To share your thoughts, please email veronica.chen@gfk.com or leave a comment below. [1]GfK PoS Measurement, 2016, Sales Units, USA and Mexico not included
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