Facebook asked us to explore how consumers use computing devices and how they switch between them for different tasks during the day.
Is your business ready to maximize the smart home? Start by understanding what consumers say they want and expect from you.
No manufacturer, utility company, global technology provider or retailer wants to miss out on the opportunities offered by the smart home. With no shortage of products and services being brought to market, the future of the smart home is bright – or is it?
In reality, the overwhelming choice of disparate smart home offerings has people confused – as we discovered in our global study of 7,000 consumers in seven markets. So what is it that key players need to know if the smart home opportunity is to realize its full potential?
Familiarity with “smart home” as a term is high, but a deeper understanding of what it is, how it works and how it meets particular needs is generally limited among consumers. The fragmented nature of the market, and the lack of a “hero” product to help drive adoption, does little to aid consumer understanding. There is a real opportunity now for brands that bring order to the market and help people to make sense of what the smart home is by clearly communicating its benefits.
And if brands needed any reassurance that such investment in the smart home is worthwhile, they need look no further than its popularity among Leading Edge Consumers – the early adopters and indicators of future mass market take-up.
With a lack of consumer knowledge currently a key barrier to smart home adoption, it makes sense that the smart home categories that appeal most to consumers globally – i.e. security and control, followed by energy and lighting – are widely understood. People know what they are and are familiar with their uses because there are already a number of products available in these areas. It also follows that all categories appeal least in markets where the smart home is an entirely new concept, and most in those where technology is being adopted at a rapid rate.
While the majority of consumers state they intend to adopt a smart home device in the next two years, our research and analysis indicates that the figure will be much lower in reality. There are a number of barriers to take-up that need to be overcome, but cost is the main one in each category for consumers globally.
In summary, brands can best deliver the smart home by communicating how it will fit into consumers’ lives and benefit them, by providing the type of seamless user experience that today’s Connected Consumers have come to expect, and by understanding specific market needs.
Increase your awareness and understanding of the smart home with insights into consumer attitudes towards the concept. Read our smart home white paper: ‘The truth behind the hype’.
Please email me at Ranjiv.Dale@gfk.com with your comments.
Thanks to advancements in technology, the smart home concept is now a reality. But why has consumer uptake been so slow? We asked 7,000 consumers from 7 markets for their thoughts on the smart home.
Connected Consumers in APAC seek the best of both worlds. Shoppers in China are the most likely to embrace omnichannel shopping – seven in ten (71%) shop both online and in-store. Australian shoppers are the most likely to shun online: almost two thirds (62%) shop exclusively in-store. In contrast, Indian’s lead the way in online shopping with almost one quarter (23%) shopping the category exclusively online. Find out more in our latest infographic.
One of the challenges that organizations face is how to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. As researchers, one way to deliver this understanding is through storytelling. We go to great lengths to convert our insights into digestible snippets. Recent advances in virtual reality (VR) have given us a new set of tools to provide a richer, more immersive story that allows you to visit the environments that your customers experience your products in.
Recently, I was in Mexico City observing a series of ethnography sessions to understand how people interact with products and services. Ethnography is designed to explore people’s needs and experiences in a much richer way than can be achieved through surveys or phone interviews.
[This was taken by me on the street outside one of the ethnography participants’ homes in Mexico City]
As a researcher, I translate these observations into insights so that organizations gain understanding of their customers’ environments – how and where they use the product or service. Of course there are a number of tools that do a good job of this (photos, reports, presentations and video), but we are always looking to incorporate the latest technology if it will deliver better data or a better client experience.
You may or may not have heard of Google’s cardboard headset, a low-cost smartphone-based introduction to the seemingly limitless possibilities of virtual reality.
While we have been playing with this cardboard headset for some time, in December 2015 came a game-changer: the Cardboard Camera app. With this app, you can convert a panoramic video of your environment into a fully immersive 360-degree photo for use in VR. Sound is also included in this experience because it is converted from a video.
[These are the visuals found on the Cardboard Camera app page in the play store]
[A screenshot of how VR looks on the phone’s screen. The image is of a busy street in Mexico City, taken by me]
The process of taking the photo is non-invasive, takes approximately 20 seconds and is fully 3D (unlike a lot of 360-degree photos which, though impressive, are nothing more than a 2D photo overlaid onto a sphere). This app is therefore able to simulate real depth – like you’re actually there.
And that’s the point.
If you had the resources, I’m sure you would love to send your entire product or service teams to meet your customers. This would increase exposure hours and allow a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.
Of course, ignoring skewing effects of finding participants willing to invite an entire team into their homes, budgets would never extend that far. So we must find alternatives, other ways to immerse teams of people in your customer’s world beyond taped footage on a camcorder. The Cardboard Camera app single-handedly opens that door. It is a sign on the front gate saying ‘Welcome to my home, this is who I am’.
[A photo taken by me at an insights exhibition, showing a client ‘visiting’ a participant using one of our Google Cardboard headsets]
The power of a smartphone and a piece of cardboard is inspiring. As the technology advances, we must be able to see its potential. For researchers, we are aware of the usefulness of streaming services in our usability lab sessions; entire teams of designers, developers and business-owners can watch in real time how customers interact with their digital products. With VR, observation can now be extended outside the lab – to ethnography sessions and beyond. New VR cameras, 360-degree streaming services and headsets are cropping up almost weekly, so your teams can now ‘visit’ willing customers and experience their challenges in real time.
[A photo taken by me of a group of people watching VR content together. The technology we have used to date does not facilitate group streaming events, but this is how it might look.]
These technologies can enhance exploratory research in any industry with digital and physical products, services and full customer experience processes. However, VR’s reach can extend even further.
Place yourself in the shoes of those who design retail experiences, buildings, crowd flows, exhibitions or any physical product. Until recently, research and early prototypes have been largely screen-based, or VR tech has been costly and not viable for smaller research budgets. But now, participants can be truly immersed, connected and challenged in this environment and the cost is within reach of most budgets.
[A photo taken by me showing a GfK colleague using hand-control motion to gain more interactivity within VR. It was taken at a demo of the HTC Vive headset, using the ‘Tiltbrush’ software]
For UX researchers, virtual reality is not just a flash in the pan. As the interactive abilities of the technology extend to hand, head, eye and body movements, the potential for building and testing environment prototypes will only increase. VR has some compelling, tangible use cases that will truly enhance the way you experience customer research. My experience in Mexico has opened the door for our clients and we are excited about what’s lurking on the other side.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Simon.Jones@gfk.com (Senior Project Designer, User Experience at GfK).
“Build it and they will come” has long been the modus operandi for the retail sector. But two decades of unprecedented change both in terms of technology and the economic environment has shaken the retail sector. This is the age of the Connected Consumer who expects retailers to fulfill their needs before they even ask. Omni-channel is the word that now defines retail as we have moved to a model where retailers need to be constantly present, ready to engage with shoppers in the moment and on the move – as well as on the high street. This is what retailers must do to survive in the Future of Retail.
The retail environment may have changed dramatically but the four key battlegrounds – choice, price, convenience and experience – are every bit in evidence. On each front, retailers must work harder to survive, let alone win. This is a world where prices are standardized, consumers are dazzled and confused by endless choice, and shoppers judge stores by the way they make them feel not just the goods they sell.
All retailers, from pure play online stores to the stalwarts of our high streets and malls and everything in between, now face a myriad of challenges. At its heart is the shopper of the future – today’s constantly Connected Consumers who want it all and expect retailers to come up with the goods.
Understanding what makes these shoppers tick is more than half the challenge. Price savvy, technologically forward and with a mission to fulfill, the shopper of the future expects retailers to keep up with them, not the other way around. The challenge for retailers is to stay one step ahead of consumers’ demands. That means delivering on all fronts, be it product choice, service, customer experience or price.
The retailers that dominate and define this new age of retail will be the ones for whom change and uncertainty represents a fresh opportunity to thrive. Understanding the constantly changing consumer and market landscapes will be key, as will be a willingness to embrace innovations and invest to benefit retailers and customers now and in the years to come. That future of retail is here and now.
Are you ready for the Future of Retail? Find out more about how to navigate the Future of Retail in our report.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at James.Llewellyn@gfk.com.
Most consumers (nine in ten*) have heard of the smart home, but what of the smart hotel? Whereas the smart home has so far been a manufacturer-led evolution, leading to slow take up by consumers, there is an opportunity for the smart hotel to be a consumer-led revolution and to excel. Smart products and services are all about making life and activities easier, less taxing and even more pleasurable – all things that travelers will value. But it isn’t quite that simple. For the smartness of the technology and service it provides to be really appreciated, they must offer something that consumers actually want. It’s vital that the smart hotel is guest-centric and that its services are generated around real customer needs and experience aspects that are most important to them.
The challenge is that everyone’s needs are different, so whatever technological solution is developed it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. This has been one of the biggest barriers to take up of the smart home. Just as every home and the occupants’ needs are different, so travelers’ needs are diverse. They will want different things from technology. Some will want a device or app that helps with the packing, or organizing a tailored experience. Others will want to be able to communicate with fellow travelers in the locality or keep tabs on their kids. Some people will just want help with creating lasting memories and ensuring they have a stress free departure. We already know that consumers’ expectations of the technology behind the smart home are high. It follows that their expectations of the smart hotel will be equally great, if not greater. For we all want the perfect, seamless travel experience.
Hotels already have multi-various ways in which they can collect information on guests to inform new service/product development. One of the most sophisticated methods being invisible analytics (IA), the subject of another article in our travel series. Those that use the intelligence collected to put customers’ needs at the heart of making their hotels smart(er) will succeed. At the same time, the technology that makes hotels smart can also be used to gather even more granular information on consumers to inform smarter business decisions.
*GfK Global smart home study 2015, 7000+ consumers interviewed in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and Spain Sept & Oct 2015
In this 45-minute webinar recording, two of our top pharmaceutical and pricing market access experts will preview the challenges inherent in building a successful pricing strategy.
Our lifestyles are changing. We are Connected Consumers and our fast-paced lives have created a need for convenience and personalization. When it comes to entertainment, connectivity has converted viewers into “media multi-taskers”. It has driven an evolution in the way we consume TV. Yet according to the statistics, TV reach is declining in all major European markets, particularly among younger viewers. But is traditional TV viewing really declining? Or is the industry facing increasing challenges in capturing and recording its reach? And, what does this mean for broadcasters?
There are two main challenges to continuing to deliver a “gold standard” TV audience measurement via TAM panels. Firstly, as the number of TVs in homes grows, more sets are unregistered. Secondly, linear (or traditional) TV viewing has become increasingly individualized.
Here are the four strategies we have developed to improve measurement of traditional TV viewing to help broadcasters understand their audience and distribute more relevant content.
1: Improving the number of TV sets under measurement
More than one in ten TV sets are typically unmeasured in households that participate in our audience measurement programs. This is particularly the case for TVs in bedrooms and children’s rooms, and for multiple sets in single-person households. With the right methodological changes, we have increased net reach by up to 12%, particularly among the key younger target groups. Recommendations based on these numbers are more solid.
2: Closing the gap on “missing values”
In order to provide a more holistic TV viewing picture, households with measured TV sets are used as donors for those with unmeasured sets. In other words, their TV usage is transferred using the power of data science to households with unmeasured TV sets that have similar characteristics (number and location in the house of TV sets, number of inhabitants, their age, gender, education, occupation, etc.).
3: “Nearest neighbor” principle key to individual usage data
To ensure that this approach provides not only as complete a picture as possible, but an accurate one as well, the recipient and donor have to be similar in structure. They must share, as previously mentioned, common characteristics and be close to each other in makeup. Statistically speaking, they must be “twins” or “nearest neighbors”. With the donor effectively substituting for the household with the unmeasured set, the location of the TV that viewing takes place on is also very important. If the donor’s viewing takes place on a TV set in the children’s room this is allocated to the TV set in a child’s room in the unmeasured house.
4: Capturing the individualized viewing experience
The results we have gathered have varied dramatically by both program genres and target groups. This underlines the complexity of the procedure needed to understand and capture a highly individualized TV viewing experience. Complex as it might be, however, we must pursue the means for tackling incomplete data. To ignore missing values and accept an incomplete picture would be the worst case scenario. The pros of our outlined approach to closing the TV viewing information gap are transparency, no burden on TAM panelists, and the provision of respondent level data.
As researchers, we have a duty not just to “fill in the gaps” but to understand how, why and where they occur. We have to use and develop a systematic statistical approach to handle incomplete data in order to help broadcasters better understand their audience. The results are evident with “missing values” with regards to target groups and program genres being filled. This is not about boosting reach and net ratings. It’s a highly targeted statistical method for adjusting differential non-registration and gaps in coverage.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at email@example.com.
It’s time to move beyond impressions, sessions and searches in programmatic advertising and put people back into data.
Since the dawn of the smartphone, consumers around the world have been on a lightning fast path towards ubiquitous connectivity. Almost a third of U.K. consumers feel it’s essential to always be reachable1. This trend is driving change across almost all industries, with customers’ houses potentially being the next step on the ladder for the internet of things. The challenge for automotive will be how it integrates with this space. In this post I’m looking at key trends in how our cars are becoming more connected with our home.
While the automotive industry may be accused of being slow moving, it’s been working in this space since before the first iPhone, in the guise of automatic emergency calling – a system with an embedded cell phone which calls the emergency services in the event of an accident. However, over the past five years, new technology and a spike in consumer demand has pushed the industry into a phase of continuous evolution in the connected infotainment space. We actually found that 82% of American consumers regarded the presence of technology to be important when looking to buy a new car2.
This trend could be set to continue in the coming years for customers looking to buy a new home as well. Our recent Smart Home report found that 78% of Leading Edge Consumers felt such technology will have an impact on their lives in the next few years. As the home becomes more connected, a new challenge opens up for vehicle manufacturers, who will not only have to integrate with consumer devices like smartphones, but also a host of connected devices in the home too.
Fortunately manufacturers are already working on solutions to such integration issues. For example, BMW has already announced limited smart home integration in the new 7 series. The SmartThings application is a first step between integrating home and car, and it’s sure not to be the last as other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) also look to integrate such functionality. In the future, as the car becomes another touch point for the customer’s cloud-based life, it is very likely you’ll be able to receive updates in your vehicle regarding picking up groceries, be able to run a bath or even preheat the oven at just the right time on your journey home.
Learn more about the connected car and smart home in our latest video.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Jack.Bergquist@gfk.com.
1GfK Consumer Life (Roper Reports ©) 2015
2 GfK Connected Technology Report USA 2016
3 GfK Consumer Life (Roper Reports ©) 2015