Automakers are making great profits again.
Who would have thought that two to three years ago. Back then consumer spending was down, economic crisis a global headline and automakers were piling up cars they could not sell.
What happened in between? Well to cut it short, the economy found back on track, automakers learned from their mistakes and focused more on what customers really need instead of selling them illusions which could only be sold thanks to massive marketing efforts. The result: smaller, more green vehicles which more and more are built on interchangeable platforms and which share parts with a large number of cars.
Yet some fundamental problems remain.
Other than 30 years ago auto brands have moved closer together in terms of product quality. This is due to technologial advances but also to the consolidation among suppliers. Today you barely find a „bad“ car which has the reputation of spending more time in the shop than on the street (old Mini Cooper legend).
What counts today is price, efficiency, how green the car is and of course its design. And increasingly another virtue is developing: interaction.
It may not be critical yet, but in the future, autos will continue to become more similar. Already today you can buy almost identical cars which are offered by three different brands. How shall a consumer decide which of the three to buy? In such a case what it boils down to is brand. Or some small features which make one of the three unique, more customizable, more entertaining.
This points to an interesting phenomenon.
Basically cars have a transportation function, second they are fun to drive or provide roles or an image (such as a Porsche as a symbol of success, reward for hard work) you can transfer to yourself.
The brand facet „sporty“ today is closely connected to efficiency. This is something even Porsche has discovered and it proves to be good for the brand. Technological excellence no longer means to get the most power out of a certain engine size but rather to get more power out of the car while at the same time reducing emissions and gas consumption.
What consumers in the future will be calling for is more interaction with the car. More possibilities to customize the car (trend towards individualism). This may no longer mean body work such as in the 90s when tuning your car was the big thing. We are less extroverted today. What counts is the inner values. This can also be oberved with luxury goods. Excessive consumption is considered stupid and unsophisticated. Luxury today is more complicated and less superficial. Sense and context matter.
In terms of cars you can see this trend by the fact that we no longer care about RDS Radio but rather on the need for an AUX interface so we can connect our iPod with our very own, individual taste of music with the car. In the future customization will much more take place on the inside than on the outside of the car.
This tendency can also be oberved in other fields of technology. Mobile phones are not only bought because of the design (let’s not discuss the iPhone now, yes it does look okay) but because of what you can do with them. Today the number of available apps plays a major role in the purchase decision for a mobile phone. Or rather which OS to choose. Windows, Symbian or Android. Manufacturers who opted for Android are highly successful today. Altough 80% per cent of the apps may be crap, it does not matter. There is something for everyone. It is not about what you have but about what you do with it. Finding the best apps to reach your customer needs is a characteristic of cleverness.
I have mentioned this in a previous article, digital to some extent replaces the automobile today. In short, less and less people in Germany and the US have a driver’s license and the automobile is constantly losing its importance. What can be done? Well how about the auto becoming more digital? This may of course not collide with safety on the road and the basic transportation function. But if you today have two similar cars – say an Audi A4 and a 3-series BMW, two of the best cars out there, and one offers entertaining and helpful additional digital features – the tough decision of which one to buy all of a sudden become totally easy!
Automakers will have to find ways to make cars more interesting, more capable to provide answers to consumer problems we usually do not associate with the car. Cars have to become more entertaining, more customizable, loaded with additional features that provide additional sources of utility.
Another thought would be to enable the car to communicate. Here is one: More and more people today are single. Many would like to have an animal to reduce the feeling of loneliness but do not have the time for it. Wouldn’t it be nice to somehow communicate with your car? To constantly check how it is doing, to get notifications from the car directly to your phone? If the car would enable us to serve as an avatar, but not in the digital but the real world. If the car enabled us to get in touch with other drivers? Think back that a car offers an image or a role. Thus dricing the same car could imply that two people share the same value set, world view, political view, etc. What if the roads out there were a social network which enable you to stay in touch with friends, find people with similar interests. What if the car would provide you with information about the area that is specifically designed for you? What if the car becomes a means to transport electricity from A to B? What if you could already from the office or the couch configure which music to be played when you enter the car?
What if your car is always reborn with new software updates and thus new features you can explore? Thus you would have a car you are familiar with and that keeps surprising you with new features – it would never get boring. Sounds like a really good human friend, doesn‘ it?
There is so much the car of the future can do for us. And the better it understands our needs or problems the more we value the car and the more desirable it becomes. And the more loyal we become.
How do you make sure people stick to one software or operating system?
Updates, features, applications, relevance,.. It is so simple.
How do you change the game?
With a new operating system that simply rocks, grows fast, and allows your own developements (open source)…
Here is a really interesting article that deals with a phenomenon you can observe in real life. Spending time online is often said to have negative effects on us: isolation, lack of real communication, lack of physical activity, bad for the eyes, and so on.
This article deals with the fact that online behavior can also affect our offline behavior and in a POSITIVE way! The central statement of the article is that sharing which has become a central element of our digital world effects our sharing propensity in real life. The motivation behind it may differ greatly from person to person but many who learned to share online also do so in everyday life. And in greater numbers than before. Check the article and think abuot if online sharing has also had an impact on you.
Here is the link to the NY Times article:
WPP press release:
Global Digital Life research project reveals major changes in online behaviour
10 October, 2010
Website showcases data from largest ever online research project covering 46 countries and 90% of world’s online population
Launched on ‘digital day’, first survey reveals major differences in online attitudes and behaviour:
– Online is now the media of choice
– Mature markets being left behind online as emerging markets become more active
– Increase in mobile use as consumers seek greater access to social networking on the go
LONDON — The largest ever global research project into people’s online activities and behaviour – Digital Life – was launched today, ‚digital day‘ by TNS, the world’s biggest custom research company. Covering nearly 90 per cent of the world‟s online population through 50,000 interviews with consumers in 46 countries, the study reveals major changes in the world‟s online behaviour.
Core data from the study is being made publicly available via an interactive website – www.discoverdigitallife.com
“This study covers more than twice as many markets as any other research.” said TNS Chief Development Officer Matthew Froggatt. “It is the first truly global research into online activities, including all the key emerging markets of the BRICs and many of the „Next 11‟. We have also researched beyond basic behaviour to provide more detailed data into attitudes and emotional drivers of that behaviour.”
“We are confident that Digital Life will become the new benchmark for information on online consumer behaviour,” continued Froggatt. “Making a lot of this publicly available was an important first step for us and obviously we have a wealth of further information behind those basic statistics covering brands and companies which we will offer to clients.”
Among the key findings of the study are:
– Globally, people who have on-line access have digital sources as their number one media channel. 61% of online users use the internet daily against 54% for TV, 36% for Radio and 32% for Newspapers.
– Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities. When looking at behaviour online, rapid growth markets such as Egypt (56%) and China (54%) have much higher levels of digital engagement than mature markets such as Japan (20%), Denmark (25%) or Finland (26%). This is despite mature markets usually having a more advanced internet infrastructure.
– Activities such as blogging and social networking are gaining momentum at huge speed in rapid growth markets. The research shows four out of five online users in China (88%) and over half of those in Brazil (51%) have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32% in the US. The Internet has also become the default option for photo sharing among online users in rapid growth markets, particularly in Asia. The number of online consumers who have ever uploaded photos to social networks or photo sharing sites is 92% in Thailand, 88% in Malaysia and 87% in Vietnam, whilst developed markets are more conservative. Less than a third of online consumers in Japan (28%) and under half of those in Germany (48%) have uploaded photos to such sites.
– Growth in social networking has been fuelled by the transition from PC to mobile. Mobile users spend on average 3.1 hours per week on social networking sites compared to just 2.2 hours on email. The drive to mobile is driven by the increased need for instant gratification and the ability of social networks to offer multiple messaging formats, including the instant message or update function. When looking at how the digital landscape will change in the future, research shows that consumers expect their use of social networking on mobiles to increase more than use through PC. In the US, for example, a quarter (26%) of online consumers expect their use of social networking on a PC to increase in the next 12 months compared to over a third (36%) who will be looking to their mobile to increase usage. In Australia the figures are 26% and 44% respectively, and in Sweden they are 24% and 53%.
Goodbye email, hello social networking
One further finding of the study showed that online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years. In rapid growth markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and China, the average time spent, per week, on social networking is 5.2 hours compared to only 4 hours on email. Online consumers in mature markets remain more reliant on email, spending 5.1 hours checking their inboxes compared to just 3.8 hours on social networking. The heaviest users of social networking are in Malaysia (9 hours per week), Russia (8.1 hours per week) and Turkey (7.7 hours per week).
When it comes to who has more friends, online consumers in Malaysia top the list with an average of 233 friends in their social network, closely followed by Brazilians with 231. The least social are the Japanese with just 29 friends and Tanzanians have, on average, 38 in their circle of friends. Surprisingly, Chinese consumers only have an average of 68 friends in their networks despite being heavy users of social networking sites, indicating a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships.
Froggatt continued: “The Internet is a huge part of life in the 21st century but how it affects our lives varies depending upon where in the world you live. We‟ve seen that in mature markets where people have been online for years and where access is ubiquitous, the Internet has already become a commoditised item that consumers take for granted. However, in rapid growth markets that have seen recent, sustained investment in infrastructure, users are embracing these new channels in much more active ways. The digital world is transforming how they live, develop and interact and online consumers in these markets are leaving those in the developed world behind in terms of being active online and engaging in new forms of communications.”
by Laurie Sullivan, Media Post Publications
About 45% of consumers don’t have a specific business in mind when conducting a local search online. In fact, more local business searchers begin with general keyword terms in search queries. They have products and services in mind, but they are not sure where to make the purchase, according to a study released Monday from 15miles, the local, mobile and social marketing arm of TMP Directional Marketing.
On the other hand, 56% of social and 60% of mobile users are more likely to search with specific businesses in mind because they are already outside the home looking for a nearby business to fill a need. The study points to a lack of sophisticated search functions in social networks for the differences.
This year’s 15miles Fourth Annual comScore Local Search Usage Study identifies the power of local, mobile and social search among consumers. The study confirms that 70% of survey respondents view search engines, online Yellow Pages or social networks as their primary sources of local business information.
Search engine queries continued to increase at a strong rate with 9% year-over-year growth. Non-search engine queries such as Facebook and craigslist rose 22%, off a smaller base, to capture more than one-third of total query volume. This also impacts local. Of the 9% of local business searchers who use social networks, 93% said they use Facebook to find information on local business.
Most research today focuses on where searches happen, but this study looks at where sales occur. Google, Bing, Facebook and Twitter are just a sample of the major players to enhance local search features in the past year. It also examines how to make sense of consumers‘ changing behaviors across various media types, and what impact search trends have on the bottom line.
By measuring consumer behavior and the impact on decisions, the study reveals insights that are necessary to influence marketers‘ search strategies. Key factors include:
Trend 1: Online search is the preferred method for information about local businesses, with 70% of consumers citing online sites as their primary source.
Trend 2: Search engines are most popular, but they are not growing as fast as other media.
Trend 3: Local searchers are more apt to buy.
Trend 4: Businesses must develop a comprehensive search presence with essential information.
Trend 5: To develop a complete search presence, local businesses must consider every avenue.
Trend 6: Print is declining, but it still holds value for today’s consumers as a secondary source.
Trend 7: With emerging media on the rise, a diverse media mix must now include social and mobile marketing.
Consumers who use social networks and mobile smartphones are more likely to use and write reviews. More than 40% have submitted between two and five reviews in the past 30 days. In fact, 78% of social networkers — up 3% from the prior year — and 71% of mobile users — up 9% from the prior year — consider consumer ratings and reviews important in making their purchase selections.
Of those participating in the survey, 81% believe it’s important for local businesses to respond to questions and complaints on social sites; 78% want special offers, promotions and information about events; and 66% believe that company photos are important.
Einer neuen Studie zufolge werden Werbebotschaften im Radio auch unbewusst von unserem Gehirn wahrgenommen. Und nicht nur das, auch soll die Kaufneigung bezüglich der beworbenen Produkte sich als Folge sogar erhöhen. Jedoch nicht immer. Ausschlaggebend dafür, dass eine auch unbewusst wahrgenommene Werbebotschaft sich auch im Kaufverhalten niederschlägt sind laut der Studienreihe attraktive Versprechen bzw. Belohnungen. Nur wenn diese deutlich genug sind und die vom Konsumenten wahrgenommenen Impulse stark emotionalisieren kommt es zu einem Kauf.
Es besteht also durchaus noch Hoffnung für Radiowerbung. Es stellt sich die Frage inwieweit die Ergebnisse sich auf TV übertragen lassen.
Mehr zu diesem Thema in einem aktuellen Artikel der absatzwirtschaft online
Here’s a nice video by German advertising agency icon Scholz&Friends. Altough around one year old, I think it is worth a post because it nicely illustrates how profoundly number of products offered, consumer behavior and thus the whole marketing business has changed in about half a century…
Ever wondered how consumer really behave when shopping online?
If you are running your own ecommerce website you can invest a great deal into web analytics. Analyzing visitors paths, conversion rates and visitor loyalty can provide interesting insights. Still it may be really hard to get definite information. Changing IP addresses, inexact origins due to electronice data processing centers and all the common inconveniences of web analytics make it hard for online retailers to analyze their customers behavior.
McAfee Secure now came up with a white paper that summarizes the results of the analysis of 163 million consumers who completed a total of 2.52 million transactions. The results are stunning. And they prove what we already know from real life shopping: We love to promenade through the inner city stores monitoring all the interesting products and comparing prices before we finally come to the obviously bet decision based on the information we have gathered. The same happens online. Consumers do not shop at once (except for spontaneous purchases). The average online shopper is in no hurry. Of course not, as stocks online usually last some time and there is barely any fear someone else might grab the last item available. The average online shopper of those 163 millions shoppers surveyed take their time – on average up to two days – between first visiting a website and finally purchasing a product.
What happens within those 33 hours and 54 minutes? Well, nothing extraordinary. Consumers compare prices elsewhere, read test results and consumer reviews, ask their peers about the product and gather recommendations from other users. An ever growing source of information are social networks and the entertaining social media presences of brands. They may lack elaborate information but they provide a good impression of a brand’s character and its fans. Some ecommerce websites even allow shopping together making use of social media technology. We call it social commere. Paul Marsden, an expert in this field defines social commerce as follows:
Selling with social media – the use of social media in the context of e-commerce (Source: www.socialcommercetoday.com)
What are the implicatios of this analysis for online retailers?
Well in order to assure that shoppers really shop with you instead of finding another place to get the product of their desire, you might want to assure this: clarity / good usability, transparency in terms of costs, shipping and handling, warranty, product details and of course the reputation consumers have of you! You know, price is not everything. Simply treat your customers the way they expect it. And for your own sake, always keep an eye on costs. The best service in the world is useless if it costs you too much and eventually ruins your business. Then customers with a service issue will sadly have to find out that only some months after they bought your products your business went bankcrupt….
For a more detailed list of advice, please see a really good article on this here:
Another very good presentation by the guys from Altimeter, found on the page of we are social
Again everyone, thanks for sharing your insights!
We will comment on it as soon as we find the time to do so!
So far, enjoy!