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  • Back-To-School – revenue growth, despite delayed sales
    • 10/05/18
    • Retail
    • Global
    • English

    Back-To-School – revenue growth, despite delayed sales

    Back-to-school’ has shown growth, due to price increases and despite a drop in larger packs.

    This years’ Back-To-School (BTS) extravaganza has perhaps not been quite so extravagant, according to our snapshot look at the Writing category in our Weekly tracker – but it is showing growth.

    Sales appear to have been left to the last minute, with weeks 35 and 36 (straddling September) both remaining the key active time for parents to fill those school bags. However, these weeks did not attain the same lofty heights in sales terms as they did in 2017, leaving us with some unseasonal summer blues over this typically strong sales period.

    Why? I hear you ask. If we look at weeks 29-38 this year compared to last year, the topline figure of +2.3% growth in value does appear pretty positive. However, the driver behind this is down to price increases. Average prices across the Writing segment of the stationery market have grown 5.8% over the same time period, which appears to be aligned to wider economic trends observed this year.

    The knock-on effect of this is that smaller pack sizes are winning out, and we see lower sales for large pack products like colouring pencils and colouring felt pens, writing felt pens and markers which are carrying higher price points. Each of these categories has really struggled for growth, with the volume of market sales declining 3.1%.

    However, let’s not be too glum from this one snapshot from our weekly indicator – because there is bright news, including within this Writing category of stationery.

    Traditional categories like Ballpoint pens, Correction Products and Highlighters are all in growth. The fact that these categories include price increases (for example – a standard 10 pack of ballpoint pens is on average 7% more expensive this year than last) shows that traditional stationery is still important for schooling, despite indications that more children may well be using digital means to support their educational development.

    Looking at writing instruments, a noteworthy trend is the continued sales of stationery or writing sets. Stationery sets are seemingly a reasonable choice for savvy and budget-conscious parents who are looking to buy multiple items in one go. With a large number of these sets released in early July (around 200) it seems that offers that make it easier for parents to find and buy the various products that are required by their children for school is going to be the goal-post by which BTS is now measured.

    In conclusion: while this year’s sales paints a picture of a more subdued BTS than before, there is growth, and there are clear areas where the industry can focus on continuing to deliver value and overall revenue to the category.

  • German Consumer Climate looking sunny
    • 09/27/18
    • Press
    • Global
    • English

    German Consumer Climate looking sunny

    In September, the consumer climate in Germany has, by and large, seen positive developments. Both economic and income expectations are on the rise, whilst propensity to buy has taken a slight hit.

  • Go beyond point of sales data: Get inside the mind of consumers
    • 09/25/18
    • Press
    • Global
    • English

    Go beyond point of sales data: Get inside the mind of consumers

    GfK has launched its Consumer Journey module of the Consumer Insights Engine, the first solution to provide a true market view of the online and offline consumer purchase journey for the technology and consumer durables industries.

  • Premium products propping up global photography market
    • 09/24/18
    • Press
    • Global
    • English

    Premium products propping up global photography market

    These are GfK's findings for the global photography market to be released at photokina 2018 in Cologne, Germany.

  • Map of the Month: Purchasing power for watches and jewelry, Italy 2017
    • 09/20/18
    • Financial Services
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Geomarketing
    • Geodata
    • Picture of the month
    • Global
    • English

    Map of the Month: Purchasing power for watches and jewelry, Italy 2017

    GfK's Map of the Month for September illustrates the distribution of 2017 purchasing power for watches and jewelry across Italy's provinces.

  • Dixons Carphone and GfK agree information partnership
    • 09/20/18
    • Home Appliances
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • Point of Sales Tracking
    • Point of Sales Analytics
    • Global
    • English

    Dixons Carphone and GfK agree information partnership

    Dixons Carphone and GfK have today announced the signing of a partnership to share physical and online sales information

  • The future of media currencies one year on
    • 09/12/18
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    The future of media currencies one year on

    Last year we consulted various stakeholders across the media industry on what the future of media currency would look like in 5 years’ time1. You can read our white paper here but to summarise we outlined three possible scenarios for the future:

    1. Technological self-regulation of data, through Blockchain (emphasis on user-ownership of data)
    2. Competitive chaos replacing order, multiple currencies and walled gardens controlled by competing entities (emphasis on proprietary ownership of data)
    3. The rise of the “Super JIC” (Joint Industry Committee) – as centralised guardians of data (emphasis on shared ownership of data through collaboration)

    These are not either/or scenarios but rather three inter-related trends that could develop to a greater or lesser extent depending on the conditions within different markets.

    One year on, how are these predictions playing out? Are any of them becoming more broadly adopted and are we any clearer in understanding the future of media currency?

    1) User ownership (via blockchain)

    It’s been hard to escape the industry’s obsession with blockchain over the last 12 months. There has been a lot of talk about using it to simplify the digital supply chain and make ad buying process more transparent and accountable.

    There have been quite a few new entrants to the market claiming to do just that, such as TMG’s launch of Truth which provides added-value through its blockchain-based trading desk. On the clientside Unilever partnered with IBM not just to simplify the supply chain, but also tackle the issue of brand safety. And on the platform-side Fenestra was launched earlier this year.

    Verdict: Expect many more entrants in the marketplace but we are nowhere near a tipping yet. The industry will need to be convinced of competitive advantage to switch from existing practices and suppliers.

    Another potential application of blockchain is enabling consumers to take more control over which advertising they want to be exposed to. This means consumers could “opt-in” to advertising and content that is highly relevant to them, or they could be rewarded (financially or through credits) for their brand interactions and their data. Blockchain could in theory then manage these data contracts at scale. This giant opt-in would potentially reduce ad blocking, and also help to address concerns regarding ad fraud and non-human traffic.

    It has to be said there has been more talk than action in this area, however last year, Bitclave launched BASE a blockchain-based decentralised search engine which connects consumers directly with businesses – eliminating intermediaries such as Google AdWords. The premise is that uses will be able to search on personalized offers – avoiding links to irrelevant advertising and be paid in exchange for viewing the relevant ones.

    Also Townsquare Media and digital platform Brave partnered to test blockchain based advertising providing readers with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT).

    Verdict: Still in its infancy with just the early adopters entering the market. But the issue remains, if individuals can manage and monetise their personal data directly – will this eventually disintermediate data companies themselves?

    2) Proprietary ownership – walled gardens

    Even a year ago publishing rivals News UK, Guardian News & Media and The Telegraph had already started to join forces to create their own premium marketplace while broadcasters Fox, Turner and Viacom joined forces to create their own audience measurement platform.

    This trend shows no sign of abating and we are starting to see new and interesting collaborations in growth areas. With viewers devoting more time to OTT content there is great potential for data-driven advertising and programmatic trading for TV. The European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX) was founded by Mediaset (Italy and Spain), ProSiebenSat.1 Media (Germany), TF1 Group (France) and Channel 4 (UK) to develop addressable advertising solutions for premium online video content.

    Also the growth of mobile video is leading to interesting developments, such as the collaboration among Hollywood studios including Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate, MGM, NBCU, Viacom and WarnerMedia for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s proposed new platform.

    Verdict: Collaborations and partnerships likely to continue with further consolidation of groups as scale is king. Will these new entities seek to collaborate with JICs though?

    3) Rise of the Super JIC

    Despite the growth of these walled gardens, we predicted that the industry is likely to more highly regulated in the future and that the JICs are well placed to ensure media measurement is trusted, independent and GDPR compliant. What makes them “Super JICs” is that they would also be supported by global digital platforms and other key data providers.

    At GfK we have started to see this trend already in our total video measurement solutions for example with the introduction of YouTube alongside TV measurement in Germany and in Singapore with integration of TV and digital media.

    However in July this year the formation of the first true SuperJIC began to gather pace as the Netherlands became the first country in the world to issue a tender for a TMAM – Total Media Audience Measurement. This means all viewing, reading and listening of media would be measured under one roof while adhering to industry quality standards and being GDPR and e-privacy compliant.

    Verdict: The Netherlands’ previous drive for total video measurement was followed in a number of other markets. The world will be watching and waiting to see how far this model can be replicated elsewhere.


    If the Dutch SuperJIC is successful it may well become the blueprint for future collaboration between JICs, digital platforms and other data providers. However creating consensus in other markets will be very challenging and managing expectations among stakeholders harder still, but it probably provides the best foundation for independent, trusted measurement.

    If the challenges of integrated measurement prove to be insurmountable, this could further encourage walled gardens to go it alone. This would undoubtedly make life more complicated for the agencies that need to trade with a growing number of suppliers plan across an array of different metrics.

    If that becomes the predominant direction of travel, then blockchain enabled solutions might well become the only way to deal with such fragmentation and complexity. But don’t expect any major changes soon. Blockchain is still at the experimental stage and it will take time for the industry to consolidate around the standard solutions that blockchain will deliver. Whatever approach we use, trust will always be a central requirement.



    How it all started: voices from across the industry. GfK and IAB Europe invited industry representatives to a round table discussion on how media measurement might look in five years’ time. Participants included: digital platforms Google, Facebook and Oath; global ad agencies Publicis and Dentsu; media owners from broadcast TV and digital; a programmatic audience platform; a national advertising association and the German JIC (Joint Industry Committee) for TV audience research, AGF.  It is the first time we have been able to discuss these issues with such a broad group and, from the ensuing debate, three possible scenarios for the future became apparent:

    The rise of the “Super JIC” as reinvigorated, neutral data arbiters

    Chaos replaces order, with data being controlled by different competing entities large and small

    Technological self-regulation of data, likely in the form of an adaptation of Blockchain technology


    Are you interested in more insights?

    We held a roundtable discussion with leaders from across the media industry to debate what media currencies will look like in 5 years’ time. Explore interesting facts in our free white paper.

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  • Mobile video driving increase in online use in Mexico
    • 09/12/18
    • Media Measurement
    • Global
    • English

    Mobile video driving increase in online use in Mexico

    Mexicans are now spending a lot more time online with their mobile devices. Latest data from GfK’s Crossmedia Visualizer shows the amount of time Mexicans are spending online has increased from an average of 183 minutes per month during first half of 2017 to 210 minutes per month in H1 2018 (see table 1).

    So what are some of the key drivers causing this jump? One is an overall increase in smartphone use and another is an increase in accessing Media on Demand (MoD) content – especially via smartphone. We define MoD here as audio/video websites and apps where you can play, pause and stop content.

    When you look at the time spent accessing MoD across all devices for H1 2017 vs H1 2018, average duration went up just over 25% (49.7mins vs 62.2). However accessing MoD specifically on smartphones has risen nearly twice as fast at 49% (15.2 min vs 22.6). Across the same time period reach on smartphones has also risen from 86.9% to 89.3% (see table 2*).

    Indeed using smartphones across all categories has risen overall by 23% After MoD sites and apps the big winners are Social Networking (18%) and Communication (28%).


    What is driving the rise in smartphone use?

    What’s also apparent when comparing H1 2017 vs H1 2018 is that the frequency of visiting these sites and apps on smartphones has increased quite a bit in the past year – definitely more than on other devices. The reach of those accessing MoD on their smartphones 20+ days per month is up from 25.4 to 39.8. Meaning that nearly 40% of all Mexicans who use a smartphone are now spending more than 20 days per month using these devices for MoD.

    It seems that much of this growth in smartphone MoD has been driven by increases in viewing content on YouTube and Netflix. When looking at total average duration of viewing per user across the 6 month period for H1 2017 and H1 2018, YouTube is up almost 18 hours and Netflix up over 3 hours.

    In tandem, mobile speeds in Mexico are improving and so is availability. Although AT&T is a relative newcomer to the market it is closing the gap on market leader Telcel and both operators offer good 4G speeds which can only help mobile streaming.

    This growth presents a huge opportunity both for targeting consumers via mobile ads, and for expanding the content available. For example large Hollywood players are beginning to put some serious money behind developing premium video content for mobile. Recently ‘NewTV’ launched as a mobile video start-up  receiving $1bn of funding including from bank and studios such as Disney, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal and Viacom plus tech backing from Alibaba.

    Expect more growth in this area. Increased usership will continue to attract further investment. Higher production values and improved user experience for mobile will provide further opportunities for advertisers to target audiences with premium content.


    Are you interested in further insights?

    We’ll let you know, why multi-channel marketing is so important and what consumers are using their various devices for. We preview 8 very different markets using data from GfK Crossmedia Link. Discover more!


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  • Driving Gen Z
    • 09/06/18
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Life
    • Global
    • English

    Driving Gen Z

    Turn back the clock a handful of years and you’ll find automotive strategists bearish that Millennials’ lack of interest in vehicle ownership will usher in the slow, but inevitable, decline of the car industry. Yet, today, 29% of new vehicles are already being bought by Millennials. In just a few years, despite accounting for only a quarter of the population, our largest generation at 80 million will account for 40% of new car sales. And they’ll just be entering their prime earning years at that point.

    Naturally, Millennials will be the sales focal point for quite some time. However, manufacturers are already looking towards the next generation of American drivers. Known as Post-Millennial or Gen Z, they’re roughly 8 to 20 years old today and expected to be 75+ million strong. With the vast majority still in school or living at home, innovation for tomorrow begins with insights unearthed today.

    GfK Consumer Life has been tracking the emergence of this young generation for some time, and we’ve identified several themes that will yield challenges, but also opportunities, for manufacturers.

    Ambitious, yet pragmatic

    As previously outlined, the post-Millennial generation is as focused on accomplishment, if not more, than on self-discovery. Financial independence is their primary goal today. In fact, 80% want to stay away from debt completely, according to research from GfK Consumer Life. And as they watched Millennials before them struggle with mounting college debt, 54% have already taken jobs to earn money for college, while 85% plan to work during their college years.

    Arguably the strongest advantage today’s teens have compared to Millennials is a robust economy. In retrospect, the timing of the Great Recession (along with historically high gas prices in 2008) as Millennials transitioned to adulthood had the most profound impact on their attitudes towards vehicle ownership. With unemployment reaching an 18-year low earlier this year, upcoming graduates may find a more lucrative job market, and access to transportation more affordable. In fact, after a short dip during the recession, Americans are now driving more miles with more vehicles than ever before. While it’s impossible to predict the next recession, manufacturers and retailers should expect the next generation to transition more seamlessly (and perhaps earlier) into adulthood. They may be shopping your brand sooner, rather than later – if, of course, the product is right.

    Seamless mobility

    You won’t just be selling cars to this generation, you’ll provide them access to fully integrated mobile platforms that eliminate the gap between in- and out-of-car experiences. Today, it’s connected car features – from smartphone integration to streaming services to mobile wifi. Yet, smart devices are second nature to them (1 in 3 are already using mobile voice command), and GfK Consumer Life has found that they’re already 50% more likely than the average American to be controlling smart home or smart car devices and features from their phone. Manufacturers will need to work hard and fast to integrate vehicles into their internet of Things. Whether it’s warming up the oven or conducting mobile video conferences on the drive home from work, or ordering food or vacation planning while in transit (as GM recently introduced with its mobile Marketplace), this generation will demand the absolute elimination of transit “dead time.”


    Of course, ‘buying’ may not be their prerogative. The fiscal savvy of this age group will place greater emphasis on building a flexible transportation portfolio, which may include any number of public, shared, or owned vehicles and services. According to GfK Consumer Life’s most recent 2018 data, teens are just as likely to use public transportation as Millennials (20%), yet less than half as likely (15% vs. 27%) to have used car sharing services. However, on the latter, they are already well ahead of Gen X (11%) and the Boomers (4%) before them. Not surprising, manufacturers are moving aggressively on this front. Subscription models from luxury brands are being tested regionally. Yet, with significant pricing premiums attached to such programs, viability beyond the most affluent is still in question. Gen Z may provide the scale to take these programs mainstream. In fact, they’re already catching up to Millennials on interest in vehicle subscription services (39% vs. 41%), and ahead on shared ownership (32% vs. 28%), despite being novice drivers.

    Security first

    Growing up in the aftermath of 9/11, countless school shootings (active shooter drills are now commonplace in our K-12 schools), and too-many-to-count data privacy breaches, manufacturers can expect this generation to take a more cautionary, yet demanding approach to personal safety and security. According to GfK MRI’s American Teen Study, they are more likely to rate safety in an accident higher relative to fun to drive, compared to Millennials as teens in 2011. Today, 42% view proactive safety systems as important, while 46% are also seeking features that protect from environmental hazards. In fact, according to GfK’s Automotive Innovation and Technology Study, Gen Z are almost three times as likely as average respondents to be seeking wellness solutions that go beyond active and passive safety systems.

    Beyond physical safety, auto manufacturers might find it more challenging to access and leverage Gen Z’s digital footprint compared to Millennials before them. These teens are sharing less personal information online, with only 31% keeping social pages updated (vs. 45% in 2009). Only 44% are willing to share personal data, even in exchange for benefits and rewards (compared to 62% of Millennials). According to GfK MRI, they are also more than twice as likely as Millennials to embrace the privacy of Snapchat (75% vs 37%), reinforcing their need for secure channels.

    As the first post-digital generation, they have also identified the limitations of social media and are re-investing in personal interactions. In fact, 3 of 4 are choosing smaller groups of friends over large groups of acquaintances, while a study from IBM suggests that Gen Z is placing as much importance on offline socializing as online. This social recalibration will be an invitation for brands to develop trusted one-to-one relationships with their next generation of clients. Leveraging the convenience of mobile technology, manufacturers such as Lincoln are adding concierge services for a decidedly personal touch to the entire life of the ownership experience. While these are generally reserved for premium brands and consumers today, such offline approaches may well suit the next young buyers seeking a brand connection – one that’s equally digital and analog.

    The road ahead

    While Millennials are center stage for now, the next consumer wave is right around the corner. As it stands, the future looks bright for Gen Z, and especially for those manufacturers who have begun to shine a light on them.

  • Will the CMA league table of banks’ quality of service drive people to switch?
    • 09/03/18
    • Financial Services
    • Global
    • English

    Will the CMA league table of banks’ quality of service drive people to switch?

    Banks and building societies in the UK now have to display material in their branches and websites that shows a national ‘league table’ of banks’ quality of service. This is part of a Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) drive to create competition in the banking sector by encouraging switching.

    The question is, what affect will it have?

    We know from change behaviour models, such as Fogg, that, for behavioural change to happen, a person must have sufficient motivation, sufficient ability, and an effective trigger. All three factors must be present at the same instant for the behaviour to occur.


    Right now, people have the ‘ability’ to switch, provided by the Current Account Switch Service (CASS), which the CMA introduced to make switching much easier and therefore help overcome apathy.  The ‘trigger’ may well be provided by this new CMA ‘quality league table’, as people can easily see whether their account provider is better or worse than others. But that still leaves ‘motivation’.

    Will consumers be motivated to switch simply by believing that they will get higher quality of service elsewhere? Or will they need something more concrete, to give them sufficient motivation to switch?

    What motivates people to switch current accounts?

    At present, 5%1 of current account holders state that they are considering switching current accounts in the next 12 months, rising to 20%1 amongst those who are actively dissatisfied with their existing provider.

    Dissatisfaction with one’s existing account provider is clearly a strong negative motivator for switching. However, in the last 12 months, only 3.5%1 of current accounts actually did switch.


    This imbalance is no doubt partially due to the perceived hassle of switching accounts, despite services such as CASS.

    However, an additional barrier may be that people did not have a clear view of which bank could give them a better service – so they lacked a positive motivator. The CMA’s new league table of service quality will certainly go some way to bridging that gap – given that all banks and building societies providing personal current accounts now have to display the “top five” brands for four categories: Overall service quality; Online and mobile banking services; Overdraft services; and Services in branch.

    Other motivators that we know are already driving switching include product incentives. A good example of this is Santander’s 1|2|3 account, which offers cashback on household bills and a good interest rate on the account balance. Since its launch in 2012, Santander’s market share has risen by 2.6 percentage points1.

    Although very gradual, our FRS data also shows signs of customers moving away from the “Big 5” banking groups to embrace a wider range of challengers – driven by brand innovation, as well as product incentives.

    What does this all mean for banks?

    For the “Big 5” banks, the focus is likely to be on retention – ensuring they innovate to inspire and hold onto their customers.

    Key areas for retention include winning the mobile banking battle (a major area, as ‘convenience’ continues to grow in importance in people’s daily requirements), making branches relevant, so that they become attractors and combat challenger online and offline offerings, and ensuring their CMA ‘quality league table’ scores are strong, relative to others.

    For Challengers, such as Metro Bank, looking to acquire customers from the Big 5, the focus is likely to be on driving communications that emphasise “it’s easy to switch to us, we offer stellar customer experience and our proposition delivers the benefits you are seeking”.

    Conclusion on switching

    While the CMA service quality league table is unlikely to prompt a flood of switching on its own, it certainly adds an extra stepping-stone for those people considering switching.

    Brands who are in the top five on the CMA league table will be making the most of this independent ranking, to advertise their performance to both existing and potential customers – and working hard to ensure they retain their place.

    This means that brands not in the ‘top five’ on the CMA league table may be more vulnerable to customers considering switching to other brands who are flagged for their service excellence.

    The way to combat this is to ensure they have timely and accurate information on their full customer harmonics and experiences and understand where to innovate to improve this, to ensure their customers are not motivated to switch.

    Contact us: We can help you understand your customers’ current experiences, and identify areas of innovation to both retain and acquire customers


    1GfK Financial Research Survey (FRS) data to March 2018. GfK’s industry-leading Financial Research Survey (FRS) is the definitive study for UK retail financial services. Established in 1977, our research builds a complete picture of the UK financial consumer. Annually we interview 60,000 respondents, understanding consumer’s financial holdings, acquisitions, usage, and behaviour. It is a key single source of data, providing insight into consumer financial behaviour.



  • E-commerce continues to gain ground in technical consumer goods markets
    • 08/30/18
    • Retail
    • Global
    • English

    E-commerce continues to gain ground in technical consumer goods markets

    GfK findings for the global technical consumer goods retail markets for IFA 2018 in Berlin

  • Need for performance drives global PC market
    • 08/29/18
    • Technology
    • Point of Sales Tracking
    • Global
    • English

    Need for performance drives global PC market

    GfK findings for the global PC market to be released at IFA 2018 in Berlin.