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Trends and Forecasting

Today’s speed to market of new offerings and shortening product lifecycles place a unique pressure on businesses to stay ahead.  Consumer purchasing behavior is shifting more rapidly than ever.

To succeed, businesses need accurate sales forecasts -- based on robust analysis -- and the most up-to-date purchasing and market trends.

We deliver detailed forecasts of consumer demand for technology devices, as well as global technology market trends. 

Our forecasts are built using the world’s largest sample of point of sales data, combined with our global expertise and local knowledge. This combination provides our clients uniquely granular and timely forecasts of future demand – forecasting what products consumers will purchase, in what volume, at what price, and where.  

Forecasting for investors and capital markets

Institutional investors face pressure to perform. To succeed, businesses need visibility to significant trends at the earliest stage(s). Businesses need to acquire reliable and compliant information on where to invest. 

We provide investors with robust forecasts using the world’s largest sample of point of sales data. We predict and document turning points in consumer demand, providing regular, detailed company analyses on technology hardware, semiconductor and consumer durable companies. 

Our forecasts allow investors to make successful recommendations backed up by credible and compliant sources.

Latest insights

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    • 03/16/18
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    In a fast-moving marketplace, trusted opinions matter more than ever

    We all know them: people who we instinctively feel we can turn to for advice on a particular topic, or in some cases pretty much any topic. We trust them, we value their advice and we’re likely to act on their recommendations. In a world where consumers are more able to filter out advertising than ever before (with, for example, over half of respondents in a US survey reporting using ad-blockers online), and are bombarded with information and opinions from all sides, identifying these influential citizens and getting them on your side is more important than ever. It’s also crucial to keep up with the ways in which peer-to-peer influence is evolving. This is a topic that GfK Consumer Life (and its earlier incarnations) has been researching for many years now. It was back in the 1940s that Elmo Roper in the US undertook pioneering work for Standard Oil to identify what he termed The Influentials – the one American in ten who told the other nine how to vote, where to eat and what to buy. In those days, there was very much a social and political slant to the group, and activities that defined them included writing to an elected representative and attending public meetings. Over the years, the group gradually became more consumption focused, with the introduction of category Influentials. These groups had a particular interest in categories like automobiles, food, and healthcare.

    Understanding today’s influencers

    Back at the start of this decade, we observed that, thanks to the power of peer reviewing and social media, it was possible for anyone to be an influencer, or at least to share their opinion with the masses. Still, however, it was necessary for consumers to figure out who they could really trust from the mass of opinions being spewed around the world wide web. Perhaps as a reaction against this, we’ve seen consumers in some parts of the world become more circumspect in this regard. For instance, the percentage who express interest in other people’s opinions about what products and services to buy has fallen since 2011 in a number of mature markets around the world, including Canada, the US and most of Western Europe, according to the GfK Consumer Life annual survey of global consumer attitudes and behaviors. This could be a reflection of the realization that some of the opinions out there are less trustworthy than others. Then there’s the problem of “fake news”, which was highlighted starkly here in the UK late last year when a journalist was able to trick TripAdvisor into making his garden shed the top-rated restaurant in London. At the same time, the proportion of global consumers who often feel overwhelmed with information when making a large purchase has grown from 21% in 2012 to 30% today.

    Trusted opinions consumers can rely on

    If anything, stories such as this show that it’s more valuable than ever for consumers to be able to find trusted opinions and advice they can rely on. The latest evolution of this concept is the Leading-Edge Consumers model used by GfK. This segment is defined by factors including category passion and early adoption, as well as being influential. Understanding this group, and what makes them tick, can be a powerful tool in today’s marketing world, where brand ambassadors and promoters are highly prized. There are numerous examples of brands and companies in many sectors who have successfully leveraged the power of influencers on social media. Fashion and beauty brands, both traditional and up-and-coming indie players, find Instagram a rich seam to mine. And the huge following of younger influencers’ “unboxing” videos on YouTube led to the launch of one of last year’s hottest toys, the L.O.L. Surprise. Understanding Leading Edge consumers can help you harness the full potential of the power of consumer influence. Whether it’s talking over the garden fence to a neighbor, or reading the thoughts of someone on the other side of the world, there’s still a high value placed on a trusted voice. David Crosbie is a Director on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at david.crosbie@gfk.com. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, '83ea0ff7-36e2-4e82-9d8c-ac8c393c742f', {});
    • 02/26/18
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    The case for micro-generations: An Xennial takes on Gen X

    I was born in 1981, after the malaise of the 70’s that produced Gen X, but before the tech boom of the early 90’s that shaped Millennials. Marketers would consider me the M-word, but I never really felt all too Millennial. So I finally felt like I had a generational home once marketers started talking about a new micro-generation called Xennials. My colleague Rachel Bonsignore wrote a great piece on the viability of Xennials a few weeks ago. In fact, Merriam-Webster has included Xennials as one of the words they are watching for eventual inclusion in their dictionary. Her insights got the Consumer Life team thinking more about identifying other insights within generations. With that in mind, and in the name of science, I set my data lasers squarely onto my generational older sibling – Generation X. Indeed, an examination of Gen X (~40-53 years old) reveals many similarities across this 15-year band (well-done generational researchers, Gen X can stay). However, digging into the youngest of Gen X (age 40-44) does show some interesting differences when compared to slightly older Xers (age 45-50).

    An illustrative example: Personal values of younger Xers vs. older Xers

    Using GfK’s Consumer Life database, we looked at the personal values orientation of Generation X. Our analysis revealed that younger Xers tend to fall more into a personal values segment called “Achievers,” who are focused on material wealth and getting ahead in life. In contrast, older Xers are more likely to fall into the “Traditionalists” segment, made up of those who are more likely to value faith, tradition, and respecting ancestors. These differences in personal values orientations are important cues that marketers use for innovation and communication strategy.  For example, an Achiever will respond to messages that speak to success, wealth, and hard work. Traditionalists, on the other hand, will respond to communication themes like time-honored and heritage. These types of variances highlight the need for nuance when conducting generational research – especially in the age of big data and micro targeting.

    What do micro-generational insights mean for our work as marketers?

    Of course, a few data runs on Gen X does not a new microgeneration make, but it does mean that we need to use nuance when we think about targeting via generational insights. We can certainly continue to think broadly about a generation in 15-20 year bands, but it is also important to consider smaller age bands, life stage, and other demographic markers like income and education. In our work at GfK Consumer Life, we repeatedly uncover differences between younger and older millennials, for example, mainly due to drastic differences in their experiences with technology and the economy. So, in your next generational project remember to look for the nuance and think critically about how your larger generational target may differ within itself. It will result in more fine-tuned innovation and communication strategies. Tim Kenyon is a Vice President on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at tim.kenyon@gfk.com.
    • 02/01/18
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Disrupting sports broadcasting: Hidden opportunities for sports streamers

    Winter has come for American sports fans in the best possible way, as this Sunday’s Super Bowl will be followed by two weeks of Olympic competition. I know I am not the only one eagerly awaiting live curling in the pre-dawn hours. Yet, as viewing habits change, more Americans will stream these events instead of watching them on a TV set. Younger generations are leading the streaming revolution; GfK MRI data shows that 70% of Millennials (+20 points from Americans overall) and 76% of Gen Now (+26 pts) used a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu in the last month. Streaming is essential to reach and engage younger sports fans, and Millennial sports fans in particular represent a tremendous opportunity for sports broadcasters and marketers. While 41% say they are willing to pay for sports content (+16 points from Americans overall and +12 points from sports fans overall), only eight percent currently pay for it. NBC is fully embracing streaming in February. There will be 11 hours of streaming content surrounding the Super Bowl, and for the first time the Olympic opening ceremony will be streamed live. NBC is not the only one going all in on streaming: this spring, ESPN Plus will go live, and in the fall, Turner Sports will place most of their UEFA Champions League soccer games on a new streaming service. Interestingly, teams are also shifting to streaming. In a groundbreaking partnership, MLS’s Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) announced this week that YouTube TV will hold their local media rights. The move by LAFC and Turner Sports makes sense as soccer fans are more likely to use a streaming service than sports fans overall (57% vs 50%). While it’s clear that broadcasters are boosting the accessibility of streamed sports content to meet the needs of the market and capitalize on the sports rights they own, are they prepared to use engagement to keep fans coming back, and paying, for more? Research from GfK Consumer Life has identified a few ways to capture the opportunity that Millennial sports fans present.
    • Creating a conversation. Millennial sports fans value online communities, and 62% think that virtual interactions can be as good as in-person ones. So how can streaming outlets foster a community? E-sports platforms like Twitch are a great case study, as they allow online spectators to interact with each other and the players in real time. Perhaps TV networks can provide a way for fans to discuss the starting line-up and other key decisions in real time through their streaming services. 
    • Getting personal. Being able to customize the streaming experience will also help attract and keep Millennial sports fans, as 79% tend to prefer products that are tailored to their needs (+15 points from Americans overall). And personalization that integrates home technology and digital assistants would be even better, with Millennial sports fans being more likely to describe their home as a high tech zone (42%, +14 points from Americans overall) and 1 in 5 having a home assistant like Amazon Echo in their house. Perhaps in the future, Alexa can help tailor a viewing schedule for fans and I won’t have to go hunting to see what channel curling is on at 4 AM.
    The good news is that the engagement of Millennial sports fans can lead to advocacy. Sixty-two percent typically go out of their way to tell others about products and services they like, paving the way for future growth. While Millennials are a commonly decried as disruptors, they can truly lead the way to new revenue streams in the sports world and hopefully, a life-long relationship with teams and the content providers that connect them. Adam Swift is a Senior Analyst on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at adam.swift@gfk.com.
    • 01/18/18
    • Technology
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Xennials: An untapped opportunity for marketers

    Much has been written about US generations for, well, generations. Starting with the “Lost Generation” that fought in World War I right up to our present-day debates about what to call the Post-Millennial audience, Americans have an endless fascination with the differences between these seemingly distinct and roughly 20-year age groups. But as society and technology evolve at a faster rate than ever, perhaps the parameters for each generation will shrink over time? The “Xennial” generation is a term recently coined for those stuck sandwiched by Gen X and those industry killers, the Millennials. Born (roughly) between 1977 and 1983, this group is caught between two worlds in more ways than one. They grew up as technology did, learning to use computers and cell phones in their teen and college years. Many were hit hardest by the tech bust, 9/11, and the Great Recession, which happened at critical moments in their nascent careers. And they exhibit a curious mix of the cynicism of their Xer elders and the optimism of their younger counterparts. Recent research from GfK Consumer Life uncovers how Xennials serve as the bridge between the infinitely dissected Millennials and oft-neglected Generation X. A quick look at their outlooks on finance, technology, and the home spotlights a unique group worth taking more seriously.

    Confident and driven

    In spite of living through major financial instability, Xennials remain more financially bullish than their elders – and their juniors. GfK Consumer Life research shows that they’re most likely to believe that now is a good time to make purchases, feel that the US economy is fair in the opportunities it provides, and be satisfied with the amount of money they have to live on today. They also lead in the belief that the best place to put money is where it can generate income – not where it is simply the safest – and feel more strongly than adjacent age groups that being able to start your own business is still a part of the American Dream. In fact, thrift is a lower-ranked personal value for this micro-generation. Perhaps it’s this financial confidence that makes Xennials more content in other arenas. They’re more likely to express satisfaction with multiple aspects of life, from career and relationships to health and their social lives. And in their leisure time, they’re more apt than neighboring generations to prioritize both physical and mental challenges. Brands can leverage this outlook by providing Xennials with opportunities to try new things, take a few risks, and feel even more empowered.

    The technology tipping point

    Full disclosure: I am an Xennial (class of 1980), and nowhere is it more clear than in my relationship with technology. I had my first email account nearly a decade before my first cell phone. Today, I take full advantage of mobile technology, social media, and streaming services, but have yet to cut the cord, still subscribe to a few paper magazines, and Snapchat recently became the first app that instantly went over my head. However, I still wouldn’t hesitate to call myself tech-savvy. Our research at GfK Consumer Life shows a similar pattern. Xennials are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to see the technology they own as an expression of themselves, and you’re more likely to find innovative devices like fitness bands, VR/AR headsets, smart home appliances, 4K Ultra HDTVs in their homes. Yet many members of this unique audience still straddle the low-tech line, as they’re more apt to read magazines on a weekly basis and watch video content on something physical such as a DVD. For tech companies to effectively communicate with this group, these nuances are important to understand. “Retro releases” such as the return of the Nokia 3310 phone capitalize on this generation’s intermittent desire for simple technology – and nostalgia.

    Staying close to home

    Earlier in this century, young Americans began moving back in with their parents in greater numbers than ever before. And as of 2014, “living with parents” is now the most common living arrangement for 18-34-year-olds for the first time in the modern era. Perhaps as a consequence of this shift, Xennials today are more home- and family-centric than those both younger and older than they are. Compared to Millennials and Gen Xers, they’re more likely to describe their homes as a family haven, prioritize family bonding during their leisure time, and predict that they’ll be living close to family ten years from now. Interestingly, Xennials are also most apt – out of the three generations – to enjoy advertising that emphasizes the comforts of home, a clear message to marketers on where to direct their creative energies. Xennials index higher than their immediate age peers on regular at-home activities such as cooking and meal planning, but their homes also have a modern twist. They’re most likely to pay professionals to do chores to save time for themselves, and demonstrate greater interest in new home developments such as energy-efficient appliances and open floor plans. With an audience that’s more open to thinking about the home in new ways, there’s a host of new opportunities for marketers.

    The lesson for brands

    Only time will tell if the Xennials continue to differentiate themselves from those just a little older and younger than them, and if our perception of generations evolves to include narrower age ranges. But in the meantime, brands can learn powerful lessons about the needs of Americans born at a brief, pivotal time in our nation’s history. Rachel Bonsignore is a Senior Consultant on the Consumer Life team at GfK. She can be reached at rachel.bonsignore@gfk.com. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, '13e65c1f-147b-466d-a5ba-18657a8a6ae5', {});