As a provider of web design services to many start-up, new and existing SME’s (or ‘Small and/to Medium Enterprises’ for those unfamiliar with corporate speak), I have always maintained a keen interest in consumer behaviour and technology. That is, how do consumers engage with technology and, more importantly, how does the myriad of available technologies influence their purchasing decisions.
In January of this year, global consulting firm KPMG released an extremely informative and insightful report into this very subject, entitled ‘The Converged Lifestyle’ or, put more simply, the multi-faceted ways in which consumers adopt and utilise the ever-growing range of technologies and tools to inform and make purchasing decisions.
The survey of consumer behaviour and technology, conducted in Summer, 2011, included interviews with over 9,600 consumers across 31 countries. All surveys were conducted online, except in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia where telephone interviews were conducted. All respondents had to own either a laptop/notebook computer, tablet computer, smartphone or mobile phone. Data was weighted against mobile phone subscribers in each country to provide a more relevant population sample. Results have been compared across regions and age groups, and to prior year surveys where applicable.
I’ll let you read the report, which contains all the survey results in detail, in your own time (and it’s well worth the time) but I wanted to highlight some of the key findings and take-aways for you below:
1. Privacy and trust:
Organisations engaging with customers over digital channels must focus on building trust and ensuring the security and privacy of their customers’ personal data. Trust will soon become the most significant differentiator for online businesses.
2. Willingness to pay:
Across all sectors, customers are looking for ways to reduce the cost of their technology without jeopardising quality. From television service providers to mobile operators and ISPs, businesses will need to rethink their revenue models and price points.
3. Impact of mobile devices:
From mobile coupons to location-based advertising, mobile devices offer a wealth of new opportunities to businesses. Far from simply ‘optimising’ web assets for the mobile platform, businesses will need to rethink the way they interact with their customers.
4. Value of data:
As customers increasingly start to expect customized services, businesses will focus more and more on identifying, capturing and analysing customer data to gain greater insight into their preferences and demands. The challenge will be in finding the right price to both appeal to customers and achieve profitability.
5. Owning the customer:
As more technologies converge, businesses are fighting to decide who ‘owns’ the customer (and their data). The issue is particularly fraught in the banking and retail sectors, where businesses hope to establish themselves as a conduit to a range of other services.
6. Multi-channel convergence:
Many consumer-facing businesses are putting increased focus on integrating their various channels to create a consistent and compelling brand presence across multiple mediums. Multi-screen viewing will offer new opportunities to converge messaging for businesses.
7. Mobile payments:
The introduction of mobile payments will fundamentally redraw the relationship between banks, retailers, telecom providers and device manufacturers. Adoption by retailers and banks will only increase as more customers demand the convenience of mobile payments.
8. Social media:
There is ample evidence that businesses utilising social media to communicate with customers are building stronger, more trusting relationships. With consumer use outpacing business use, many organisations will need to play catch-up if they hope to meet the expectations of their consumers.
9. Online viewing:
The move towards viewing video content online is changing the business model not only for content providers, but also for advertisers and technology companies. Businesses operating in this arena would be wise to rethink their mix of traditional versus online offerings.
10. Meeting customer demand:
The converged lifestyle has empowered consumers who are increasingly vocal about their preferences and demands. Businesses that are able to gauge and respond to this evolving consumer relationship will ultimately build stronger relationships and gain critical trust with their customers.
Reading this report has been illuminating and made me very excited about the changing landscape of the projects I am engaged to work on with my core target market – small to medium business owners. Despite the global phenomenon that is social media, I am delighted (and not surprised) that company websites are still the most critical vehicle for driving business and purchasing decisions. Social media should be seen as a powerful way of reinforcing and supporting a websites presence, as opposed to replacing or replicating it.
Hope you enjoy the read! Would welcome your comments on what technology platforms you use most commonly and why and how these platforms influence you to purchase a product or service.