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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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    • 03/15/17
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Global
    • English

    How to leverage consumers’ current travel sentiments

    Currently, there is indeed a heightened consumer awareness around travel, notably with much of the conversation in the US focused on travel bans and increased airport security.  There is no denying that safety is on the forefront of consumers’ minds – 61% of Americans agree that they are “always concerned about their safety and security”, according to a recent study from GfK Consumer Life. But how does this affect consumers and their attitudes and behaviors towards travel?  Travel is actually one of the last things that Americans are willing to give up – only behind their mobile phones (and ahead of other indulgences including dining out, out-of-home entertainment, and hobbies).  In fact nearly three-quarters of Americans have traveled for leisure in the past 12 months (60% of those by plane).  It is probably safe to assume that at least a similar number would like to continue to do so in the future.

    Building on experiences

    Rising personal values of consumers that include learning, open-mindedness and internationalism suggest that Americans are open to new experiences when it comes to travel.  In addition, 63% of Americans agree that they ‘always like to experience local culture and foods’.  Concurrently, industry trends show that international travel was up 6% in 2016 vs. 2015. How does this reconcile with the current shakeups within the travel industry?  Well one particular case is that advancements in technology are allowing for consumers to experience travel like never before.  The evolving wants and needs of the connected consumer continue to push for new innovations in travel.

    Incorporating relaxation

    Prioritizing experiences does not necessarily mean everyone is looking to go the backpacking-rugged-adventurous route.  R&R is also sought after – 54% (+6 pts from 2012) of Americans prefer a vacation where they can relax and take it easy (vs. only 38% looking for “active” vacations where they can do/see a lot of things).  This can probably be attributed to the increased stresses of life today – stress levels have hit an all-time high by some metrics (54% of Americans feel stressed at least once or twice a week, the highest point since GfK started tracking more than two decades ago). This can have implications across a wide range of categories – from food to technology to wellness… anything that will help them unwind during their travels.

    Opportunity: The appeal of business travelers

    One consumer target that can be especially attractive is the business traveler, with their overall affluence and spending tendencies (along with the notion that they probably would be less affected by any changes in consumer sentiment around travel, since it is tied to their careers). About one in five Americans have traveled for business in the past 12 months.  Priorities of course shift – work takes precedence and companies typically handle expenses.  So it comes as no surprise that 75% have stayed at hotels/accommodations rated at 4-stars or higher (+29 pts from the average traveler).  And proper sleep clearly is more important – 71% of business travelers agree that they need to sleep really well (+13 pts from the average traveler). Other opportunity areas that resonate with the business traveler include: health (80% actively look for health products/services, +13 pts from average travelers); technology (61% say they are passionate about tech, +28 pts); and small indulgences (81% look for novelty/fun in everyday products, +17 pts).

    Conclusion

    The recent dialogue within the travel space seems to suggest increased consumer anxiety. Yet brands and companies should not let that be a deterrent – travel is still a mainstay within Americans’ lives.  Both new experiences and relaxation can be drawn upon to give consumers true pleasures in their travels – while business travelers continue to have strong appeal across many facets. Mihir Bhatt is a Senior Consultant on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at mihir.bhatt@gfk.com.
    • 03/07/17
    • Technology
    • Global
    • English

    Why consumer behavior and digital convergence matter for electronics manufacturers

    Since the mid-nineties, digitalization has ensured a regular boom in the tech industry. Many new products, applications and services have succeeded in massively boosting the use of the latest technology at ever lower prices. At the same time, consumer behavior has changed fundamentally due to the ubiquitous and unlimited access to the internet, social media and networking between content and hardware. In a relatively short period of time, the high demand for smartphones and smart TVs has drastically and sustainably reversed the use and distribution of music and television or film. However, the development of digital products has not only characterized consumer behavior, but has also been the source of some convergence of hardware. In many cases today a smartphone replaces the MP3 player, the navigation device, the photo camera or the tablet and the credit card, the fitness tracker and much more thanks to ever-increasing screen sizes and advanced technology.

    Structural change in the multimedia sector

    The market for multimedia products is now in a deep crisis as measured by demand. The high demand of the past years has led to strong market saturation, so the manufacturer has had to foot the bill for the end customers the past two years. On the one hand, a large number of devices are only in the middle of their service life, which means that the consumer often does not see any additional use or buy-in for a replacement purchase due to small or even poorly communicated innovations in conventional products. Even for 2017, the bottom is still not reached. The prospects for recovery are low, with a noticeable, structural change in the sector.

    Smart TV dominated CES

    The groundbreaking annual CES fair in Las Vegas produced a glimmer of hope at the beginning of the year with the industry presenting a large number of innovations. The focus, however, was once again on smart televisions with bigger and better pictures. The TV market is, of course, an essential part of the entire multimedia business and the decline in sales recorded in recent years is indeed striking. Whether the presented innovations can stimulate the saturated TV market in the short term, however, is questionable.

    All-in-one smartphone

    The driver in the multimedia area is undoubtedly the smartphone. The steady growth was attributable to the penetration, which had not yet been exhausted, as well as the product innovations up to 2015 and 2016. The turnover in this area was only partially compensated for by other declining multimedia categories. In the future, the opposite will probably be the case despite advances in new devices with higher battery operation times. The trend of growth could decline in the future as a result of the lower subsidies by the telecom providers as well as the often achieved marginal use.

    Unsteady photo market

    The whole photo and video area is almost right in the free fall, as the smartphone increasingly replaces the classic camera with increasingly better camera functions. As CES 2017 showed, the innovations and visions of the industry are likely to hit the market again in many places with new perspectives. Particularly interesting are 360-degree film cameras in combination with VR glasses, as well as compact film drones in addition or as a replacement to Actioncams.

    Renaissance in audio

    As far as the sound is concerned, high-quality audio seems to be experiencing a renaissance. Thanks to high resolution audio, sound quality is coming back to the forefront for consumers. Both audio-players and headphones in the highest resolution promise an unprecedented sound experience and bring the music lover into completely new spheres. This kind of innovation not only enhances the quality of the sound world, but also creates new, desirable products in the market. At the same time, the audio-home market is benefiting from unbroken demand in the streaming and multi-room segments, which grew by 8 percent in value and 5 percent in value respectively. This trend will continue to grow as a result of continuous development and new suppliers.

    Taking a chance on the smart home

    The smart home has become an ever-present catchword at CES. The term is as broad as it is incomprehensible, but everyone seems to be able to imagine something related to home networking. The range of products and innovations also take into account the primary need for safety, energy management and control of all possible household appliances and equipment. The challenge of the manufacturers is to offer the consumer simple and reliable products, which can be installed and operated easily and intuitively at an affordable price. A simple communication of the benefits and understandable advertising play an equally important role.

    Conclusion

    The recent changes in consumer behavior have presented a number of challenges and opportunities for electronics manufacturers. The convergence of hardware has made many products obsolete and led to structural changes in the sector. The markets for smart TVs and phones face growth challenges, while innovative products in the visual and audio segments are opening up new opportunities for established players. The smart home remains a mystery and presents maybe the biggest opportunity, with consumers showing interest but lacking understanding of products in that segment. Luca Giuriato is a Senior Market Manager at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email luca.giuriato@gfk.com or leave a comment below.
    • 03/02/17
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    How to win the 2017 shopper

    Consumers tell us that they shop using both online and offline channels for different but complementary reasons. Take a look at our infographic and discover "How to win the 2017 shopper".
    • 03/01/17
    • Health
    • Technology
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Mobile health: What you need to know to keep up with evolving consumer needs

    Google launched its much anticipated Android Wearable 2.0 watch platform earlier this month, with improved fitness tracking a focal point.  The move follows a similar push from Apple last fall when the smartwatch leader made health and fitness front and center for its latest wrist wearables. This focus on health makes a great deal of sense for smartwatch marketers, as mobile health is an area of burgeoning consumer interest and immense market opportunities. According to data from GfK Consumer Life,  about three in ten Americans (29%) today monitor their health and fitness using an online or mobile app or through a fitness band, clip or smartwatch. And nearly half (46%) of those who don’t are interested in future adoption. Health tracking and monitoring is by far the top activity, not only for fitness trackers but for smartwatches in general, and it’s the only feature that truly sets smartwatches apart from smartphones in the consumer’s mind – at least for now. While the demand for mobile health solutions is gathering steam, consumer needs are also evolving. Our research reveals opportunity areas that point to the future direction of mobile health.

    Gamify to motivate

    While consumers recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, many struggle to follow through with action. The persistent, wide gap between health attitudes and behaviors signals the need for products that help consumers stay motivated and make behavioral change more attainable. For many, digital health is seen as the clear solution for motivation. Indeed, motivating oneself to exercise and eat healthy is a top reason why Americans use digital health solutions today. It’s an even more compelling driver for future adoption. While tracking progress itself can help motivate behaviors, opportunities go well beyond basic quantification. The sensational success of Pokémon Go as an accidental fitness facilitator last summer is a testament to the power of gamification. The likes of Apple and Fitbit are also betting on gamification in the form of competition with friends, families and other users to encourage engagement.

    Move beyond quantification to personalized coaching

    Data without insights has limited benefits. People who used to track their health and fitness but no longer do so tend to cite ‘not knowing what to do with the information collected’ as a reason for diminished interest. Ultimately, quantification should be the means, not the end result of health solutions. As mobile health matures, we can expect consumer demand to move beyond self-quantifying for actionable insights and real-time, personalized coaching to accomplish real results. Already, over a quarter of Leading Edge Consumers[1] (vs. 16% of all adults) have received customized, data-based advice about their physical or mental health online, via an app or wearable devices in the past month.

    Data accuracy and privacy present challenges and opportunities

    The accuracy of Fitbit was questioned last spring in a public way when the company faced a class-action lawsuit. The accusation perhaps didn’t come across as a shocker to many consumers. Almost four in ten Americans admit they are skeptical about the data accuracy of health trackers and other wearables, according to a recent GfK Consumer Life survey. Data privacy is another area of heightened consumer concerns and a major barrier to the adoption of digital tracking solutions. The expectations for data accuracy and security will only rise as mobile health becomes more integrated with healthcare. While these concerns may present challenges to device makers and service providers, those well-positioned on these fronts can also score a true advantage.

    The future of integrated health management

    Consumers’ health needs are complex and multi-faceted. The demand for weight management continues to soar as obesity rates reach new highs. The importance of mental health is ever more top of mind in a high-stress world. An aging population is driving the rise of chronic conditions that require constant management. Current digital health solutions tend to be lifestyle focused and track fitness, diet, sleep and stress separately. The progression of the industry, technology and consumer demand should propel the emergence of integrated solutions that synthesize various types of data (both medical and lifestyle) from multiple sources for holistic health management. For instance, if your fitness band knows that you had a poor night’s sleep, it may suggest that a heavy dinner the night before was to blame and recommend lighter meals or taking a walk after dinner to remedy the situation. In summary, mobile health is a space of exciting opportunities, but also one evolving with growing competition and raised expectations. To fully capitalize on this market, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and on top of emerging needs. In particular, personalization, security and integration will become more of an industry mandate than they have in the past. Veronica Chen is a Vice President at GfK Consumer Life. To share your thoughts, please email veronica.chen@gfk.com or leave a comment below. [1] GfK’s proprietary Leading Edge Consumers (LEC) segmentation identifies consumers most likely to be early adopters and influencers in a given category.
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