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  • The game is on: the opportunities offered by the gaming market
    • 04/28/17
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    The game is on: the opportunities offered by the gaming market

    Gaming creates considerable revenue worldwide, but especially in Western Europe. Discover what opportunities are offered by the gaming market with our infographic.

  • How is the download option changing viewing behavior among Netflix users?
    • 04/28/17
    • Global
    • English

    How is the download option changing viewing behavior among Netflix users?

    Download our handy infographic to find out what role does age play in streaming vs. downloading and which age groups are the biggest binge watchers.

  • UK Consumer Confidence drops to -7: Is pre-Brexit economic turbulence brewing?
    • 04/28/17
    • Press
    • Financial Services
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • FMCG
    • Global
    • English

    UK Consumer Confidence drops to -7: Is pre-Brexit economic turbulence brewing?

    GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index dropped one point to -7 in April.  Four of the five measures decreased, leaving only the Major Purchase Index showing an increase.

  • Advertising still holds sway over consumers
    • 04/27/17
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Global
    • English

    Advertising still holds sway over consumers

    We asked 20,000 consumers globally which factors influence most their shopping decisions. Take a look at our infographic and get the answer.

    • 04/27/17
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Global
    • English

    Relaxing vs. adventure: Breaking down vacation preferences around the world

    When it comes to taking a vacation, more than half of people (59%) surveyed internationally prefer a vacation where they “relax and take it easy”, according to our online study conducted in 17 different countries.

    In comparison, over a third (35%) said that they prefer “an active vacation where I do or see lots of things”.  Six percent of the respondents were not sure which type of vacation they prefer.

    Breaking down the results by the biggest factor: Age

    When analyzing the results of the study, there was next to no difference between the preferences of men and women.

    Age played a bit of a role, with teenagers being the most likely to be inclined to energetic vacations (43% prefer a vacation that is active vs. 51% who prefer to relax).  In addition, families with teenagers in the household are slightly more inclined to active holidays than others.

    This preference for energetic vacations then drops steadily with each age group, with those in their fifties and those aged sixty-plus both standing at one third who prefer an active vacation.

    Respondents aged in their forties had the highest percentage of people who prefer relaxing holidays, at nearly two thirds (64%).  In comparison, only 57% of people aged 60 and over say they favor a relaxing vacation.

    Preferred vacation type by country

    The results differed from country to country, with Italy (45%), France (44%) and Spain (43%) leading in percentage of their online population who prefer active vacations where they do and see lots of things.

    The countries that lead for having the highest percentages of people who prefer a relaxing vacation where they take it easy are Brazil (71%), South Korea (66%) and Japan (also 66%).

     

    “The value of these findings for the travel industry lies in combining this self-reported data with our travel insights, which are based on live forward booking data from a growing number of sales points,” comments Laurence Michael, global lead of travel and hospitality research. “With this multi-layered approach, we understand what is being booked and by whom – helping our clients to fine-tune their audience segmentation and identify customer potential, both globally and at country-specific level.”

    Whether travelers prefer relaxing or planning a more adventurous trip, it should be clear to brands that building on experiences can help leverage consumers’ current travel sentiments.  By utilizing emerging technologies in the travel space, travel brands have the opportunity to build customer loyalty by appealing to the individual consumer.

    About the study

    GfK conducted the online survey with over 22,000 consumers aged 15 or older across 17 countries. Fieldwork was completed in summer 2016. Data are weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population aged 15+ in each market. The global average given in this release is weighted based on the size of each country proportional to the other countries. Countries covered are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA.

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  • Almost twice as many people prefer relaxing vacations to active ones
    • 04/27/17
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Almost twice as many people prefer relaxing vacations to active ones

    Internationally, 59 percent of people prefer a relaxing vacation, while 35 percent prefer an active one. Brazil, South Korea and Japan lead for favoring relaxing vacations; Italy, France and Spain lead for active holidays. Teenagers are the most energetic, with 43 percent preferring active vacations.

  • Consumer climate on the rise again
    • 04/27/17
    • Press
    • Financial Services
    • Public Services
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Consumer climate on the rise again

    Findings of the GfK Consumer Climate Study for Germany for April 2017

    • 04/25/17
    • Technology
    • Connected car
    • 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.

  • Nearly twice as many people prefer relaxing vacations to active ones
    • 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.

  • Global study: preferred vacation type
    • 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.

    • 04/21/17
    • Retail
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Retail today and tomorrow: Innovating in the age of disruption

    Today’s changing retail environment is proving to be a major test of marketers’ agility.

    It is no secret that the convenience of online shopping has drawn customers away from traditional brick-and-mortar outlets. Walking from store to store in search of the perfect outfit or gift has transformed, in many cases, into jumping from website to website, credit card in hand.  Along with this major transformation has come many difficult adjustments.

    So where does this leave brick-and-mortar stores?

    The role of the store itself is being re-defined in our modern age, as traditional storefronts turn into immersive showrooms and leisure destinations, and much more.  Retailers, and specifically mall operators, are aiming for more experiential elements, while foregoing traditional anchors for more entertainment-based locations like movie theaters and gyms.

    GfK’s FutureBuy® data shows that people who shop in brick-and-mortar stores do so because they can physically see the product before they buy, they shop there routinely and they get “instant gratification” by getting the products much sooner.  When they shop online, however, the reasons tend to be saving money, better selection and the overall ease of shopping.

    Given these dramatic changes, marketers need to play to the strengths of traditional retail stores – and keep a few key lessons in mind.

    1. Stay agile.  In today’s retail environment, marketers have to be flexible and creative to satisfy the evolving consumer.  We see a trend where shopping spaces are increasingly being integrated into traditional urban surroundings, like the shops at the Oculus of New York’s World Trade Center or in Chinese open cities, with stores and interactive park-like features (trees, water fountains, shops and screens) that create a new shopping “village”.  There are numerous new business models that brands can leverage in new ways.
    2. Capitalize on the online-offline experience.  Consumers desire rewarding experiences.  The latest data from GfK Consumer Life shows that experience is the #1 trend in the United States, and store shopping remains a key leisure pursuit. Three in four Americans agree that “it’s fun to browse stores and see what’s new and different”.  The current market is seeing big online players capitalizing on this trend as they open brick-and-mortar retail locations.  For example, Amazon bookstores allow you to buy books in-store or have a fun retail experience, but lighten your load by having the book delivered or letting you purchase a digital copy.  Warby Parker and Bonobos are popular online players who have showrooms.  At Bonobos, you can visit ether of the “Guideshops” get 1-1 attention from a “Guide” to get the exact fit and measurement of your clothing, but you walk out hands-free, without paying for delivery of your chosen items.  This can surely help personalize the experience, and alleviate some of the operating costs that physical retailers face to be more competitive with pure online players.

      On the flipside, customization can be a challenge for online-only brands.  Nearly four in ten Americans agree that they like to buy products that can be tailored to their needs.  Major retailers are starting to optimize their brick and mortar footprint to maximize the omnichannel fulfillment with click & collect and filling excess square footage with shop-in-shop concepts.  But the real challenge for brick and mortar retailers is how to keep up online without killing their margins.
    3. Use new technology to your advantage.  We are at the tipping point of the AI explosion, and Artificial Intelligence will surely enhance the online shopping experience.  In fact, almost three in ten Americans (28%) would try out new products before buying them, such as cars or paint colors, and a quarter (24%) would use a VR headset to shop as if they were in a real store.  Virtual reality in particular could be useful in a brick-and-mortar showroom.  AI is being used much more to improve product search effectiveness on retailer websites and in making product recommendations than from a virtual “trying out” process.

      Lowe’s has been using VR well, in helping customers visualize what decorating a room in their house might look like (along with augmented reality technology) and North Face for the outdoor experience.  AI will certainly help with product search and IBM’s Watson AI is paving the way to improve product recommendations.  AI is just the tip of the iceberg as a lot can be said for bots and drones, which as they are starting to play a much greater role to the retail environment and logistics.

    Disruptive times call for staying attuned with consumers’ changing needs and lifestyles.  We are at the brink of the 4th industrial revolution, which will undoubtedly shape the future of many aspects of consumers’ lives, including how we shop.  Thus, the time for keeping a close eye on new technologies and innovating for the future has never been better.

    Jola Burnett is a Vice President on the Consumer Life team at GfK. She can be reached at jola.burnett@gfk.com.

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