February 20, 2023
While it may have taken a while to gain its footing, the short-term rental industry has been growing rapidly, with an increasing number of travelers opting to stay in rented accommodations instead of a traditional hotel. With a wide range of options– from luxury beachside villas to basic apartments located in city centers, vacation rentals have become a popular option for many travelers. Travelers, especially those who travel often, state that vacation rentals are often less expensive than hotels, they offer more privacy and space than hotels, and the rentals allow travelers to ‘feel like a local’, by staying in residential areas.
A Quick Overview of the Vacation Rental Industry
In recent years, the vacation rental industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. According to a study by ResearchAndMarkets, the global vacation rental market was valued at $169.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $220.4 billion by 2024, growing 6.3% over the forecast period.
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the vacation rental industry has benefited from the post-pandemic travel boom, as travelers look for more spacious accommodations and more flexibility overall. A different report by Phocuswright revealed that the vacation rental market was expected to continue to grow, as a result of the demand for more alternative forms of accommodations and the rise of online booking platforms.
The pandemic has changed what people look for when they plan trips and there are a few notable trends to be aware of in order to understand more about what consumers want now when they travel.
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Travel
Environmentally-aware travel has been part of the tourism landscape for a while, but sustainable travel has reached peak popularity post-COVID. According to a report by TripAdvisor, the trend towards sustainable travel has seen a significant increase in 2022, with 45% of travelers stating that they would choose sustainable or eco-friendly accommodation over a traditional hotel, with an eye toward reducing their carbon footprint while on vacation. Travelers are also increasingly interested in real estate where energy-efficient systems are installed, renewable resources are used, and waste reduction is encouraged is in high demand.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Vacation Rentals
As the world has started to learn to live with COVID, the experience of having lived through the pandemic has had a lasting effect on what travelers are looking for when they look for a place to stay while on vacation.
Increased Demand for Unique, Local Experiences
Travelers are craving special and authentic local experiences as a substitute for stand hotel service. They want an immersive cultural experience, close to where they are staying. According to a report by Airbnb, 60% of travelers stated that they would choose an authentic local activity over a tourist-focused destination.
Virtual Tours Before Booking
Finally, an up-and-coming trend is consumers being able to virtually tour potential accommodations before they make their reservations. As mentioned earlier, many people are more cautious about health and safety concerns and want to make sure that they are making informed decisions about where they are staying before they make their reservations. While not yet widespread, these 360-degree tours of the interiors and exteriors of rental properties will become more commonplace as more travelers continue to search for alternatives to hotels.
Read more about the travel industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers in the travel audience. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
February 20, 2023
Among the many things that consumers will have to consider in the coming years, but is rarely thought of, is the nature of our money. Let’s face it, since the first coins were minted in Lydia more than 2,500 years ago, little about currency has changed. Paper currency was first introduced during the Song Dynasty in the eleventh century and then the concept slowly made its way to Western Europe by the end of the Middle Ages; yet things haven’t changed much in the last 700 years. Yes, credit cards, debit cards, payment apps, and online payment systems now dominate, making ours the first “cashless society,” yet we may be on the precipice of a major economic evolution from a cashless economy to a truly digital economy. If this change happens, it will have major implications for investors, companies, and consumers, and how different brands position themselves during this transition, particularly how it relates to their customers, will position them for success.
If you follow macroeconomics or consumer and financial trends, then you’ve probably heard about calls for digital currencies. Advocates of digital currencies come from governments, especially central banks, but also some private companies that believe digital currencies will be beneficial for their bottom line. Most people, though, aren’t aware of the potential transition to digital currencies, or even what they are. The biggest barrier to understanding digital currencies usually involves them being confused with electronic currencies. Simply put, today all national currencies are electronic currencies because transactions can be done electronically as well as with physical cash. In theory, digital currencies will also be transacted electronically, but the key difference is that they can only be done electronically. There will be no paper money in digital currencies. Digital currencies have some similarities with crypto currencies, and will utilize many of the same technologies, so it may help to view them through the crypto lens. It’s important to point out that the major difference is that most crypto currencies are decentralized and written with open source codes, while digital currencies will be controlled solely through the central banks that issue them. So now that we know what digital currencies are, let’s look at how they came to be and what impact they could have on future consumer trends.
From Crypto to Central Banks
There’s no doubt that digital currencies are the product of the Computer Age, but the route they took from fringe ideas to a reality has been somewhat circuitous. Computer scientist David Chaum is often thought of as the father of digital money for his efforts to create new, digital technologies. Chaum invented the “blind signature” technology in 1982, which would later play a role in the semi-anonymous nature of crypto currencies. Chaum then used his digital money ideas to start DigiCash, an electronic money corporation that used private and public key cryptography, which are crucial to bitcoin and most other crypto currencies today.
Although DigiCash went bankrupt in 1998, it inspired people around the world to devise their own digital cash products. In 2009, the mysterious Satoshi Nakomoto introduced the world to bitcoin, a decentralized, open source digital currency whose transactions and amounts are recorded semi-anonymously on a public ledger known as a blockchain. Many were immediately skeptical of bitcoin – and remain so – especially government actors, but the reality is that the premier cryptocurrency has revolutionized money in the 21st century. Although politicians and central bank officials have bemoaned the lack of control they have over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it hasn’t stopped them from using its technology to set-up their own digital currencies.
Once central banks began envisioning digital currencies – often referred to as central bank digital currency (CBDC) – it became clear that the idea is a long way from reality. Theoretically, a CBDC is a liability of the central bank that issues it and is denominated in the sovereign currency (US dollar, euro, yen, etc.), as is the case with physical banknotes and coins, but all transactions will be recorded and ostensibly tracked by the central bank that issues the “coins.” Although CBDCs will utilize some of the ideas behind cryptocurrency, because they will be controlled by a central bank they will likely not use a distributed ledger or a blockchain.
It should be pointed out that much of the information we have about CBDCs are purely theoretically, as few countries have implemented them and those that have are in the early, experimental stages. With that said, China initiated a CBDC pilot program in 2021 that may give American businesses and consumers a taste of what’s to come.
In 2021, 261 million users took part in the Chinese CBDC trial who made more than $13.8 billion in transactions. The Chinese government has publicly stated that the pilot has been a success and revealed plans to expand it, which may mark the beginning of a trend, but it’s important to note that China’s early CBDC success has not been the case in every country. Ecuador’s central bank scrapped its CBDC plans, and central banks’ plans to develop even pilot programs have been moving at a glacial pace.
The Pros and Cons of a Digital Dollar for Consumers and Businesses
As American politicians, economists, businesses, and bankers debate the merits of a digital dollar, it’s important to objectively exam some of its possible drawbacks and benefits for consumers and businesses. Small businesses will see immediate benefits from a digital dollar, as deposits from point of sale transactions will be instant, or nearly instant, as opposed to the one to three day lag that is standard today.
The digital dollar’s quicker deposits and transaction times will be just one feature of what is believed to be a generally more convenient form of currency. Because transactions will be done through “digital wallets,” consumers won’t have to worry about carrying cash or the right credit card. Digital wallets will be stored on phones, so transactions will be as easy as scanning a QR code.
The cons of a potential digital dollar include security, surveillance, and more costs. Computer experts have pointed out that because by nature CBDCs will be centralized, they are subject to “single point failures,” unlike decentralized crypto currencies. The centralized nature of the digital dollar has also worried privacy advocates, libertarians, and those generally fearful of government overreach, as they argue that the digital dollar could be used as surveillance tool because all transactions could be tracked. Additionally, experts believe that the technology required to make a digital dollar run smoothly will translate to higher costs, which will be passed off to the consumer in the form of higher fees. So, there are plenty of reasons for consumers and businesses to be excited, or not, about a digital dollar, but the important question remains: should we start preparing our digital wallets?
The Reality of the Digital Dollar
Whether or not the digital dollar becomes a reality will depend on many factors including government/political will and consumers’ and businesses’ acceptance of any scheme. The infrastructure and knowledge is there and government and non-government actors have begun experimental steps. In February 2022, the Boston Fed and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed the results from two tests they conducted of a high-performance transaction processor that was able to handle 1.7 million transactions of a fictional CBDC per second. In November 2022, the New York Fed did its own digital currency experiment that used distributed ledger technology, although it’s still too early to know the results.
In addition to the technological knowledge, there does appear to be some political will to institute the digital dollar. President Biden and the Democrats have shown some support for the digital dollar, with Biden signing the executive order, “Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets,” which instructs government agencies to produce reports on a digital dollar. But an executive order is a long way from a law and with Congress routinely switching control between parties it doesn’t appear the digital dollar will become a reality anytime soon.
Although the US central bank probably won’t adopt the digital dollar in the near future, consumers and businesses can still benefit from its adoption in other countries. As China moves forward with its CBDC, more countries will follow, which may open investment opportunities and make international travel easier and cheaper. Some experts also believe that as CBDCs expand slowly but surely, and the more they are talked about, it will lead to greater investment in cryptocurrencies. American consumers may not see any immediate benefits from CBDCs, but those who think ahead and outside the box could benefit.
January 26, 2023
Among other things, 2022 will be remembered as the year that saw food prices (and prices of other goods) spike through the roof and caused many families to tighten their budgets in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades. And as if sky-high grocery prices weren’t enough, shortages of everyday necessities like butter, baby formula, tomatoes, and turkey tested consumers’ patience throughout the year. Now, at the beginning of the new year, consumers are paying much more for a formerly inexpensive and reliable kitchen staple as an egg shortage has taken hold.
Why There Is An Egg Shortage Right Now
In addition to an increase in fuel, packaging, and chicken feed prices, the current shortage of eggs can be partially blamed on an especially contagious outbreak of avian flu that has already killed tens of millions of chickens across the nation and in other countries. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the outbreak happened over a year ago in February 2022. It is the deadliest outbreak of avian flu in the nation’s history and led health officials to ‘depopulate’ or slaughter close to 60 million chickens by the end of 2022, due to the virulence of this specific strain of the disease.
The scope of the outbreak in the U.S. has been uneven, with some states being hit harder than others. Colorado and California have both suffered deep losses in their egg production. Additionally, California is one of several states that have banned the sale of eggs from caged chickens, which is better for the chickens, of course, but it does affect supply significantly.
Less Supply = More Expensive
It’s no surprise that a limited supply of eggs means that consumers will be paying more for them for the foreseeable future. The price of a dozen eggs has risen in 47 states and by the end of 2022, egg prices rose 49% nationwide. According to the Los Angeles Times, eggs that only cost $2.35 at the end of December 2021, cost shoppers $7.37 just a year later. A now-viral post on Reddit shocked readers when a Walmart shopper shared a photo of a shelf of eggs that listed a price of $27 for 5 dozen eggs. The increase in prices has led retailers to limit the number of cartons of eggs that shoppers can purchase.
Other Effects of the Shortage
Just like rising fuel prices have far-reaching effects on what consumers pay for food, taxi/rideshare rides, airline tickets, and more, increased prices of eggs affect more than just the sticker prices at the grocery stores. Diners are paying more for their dishes at restaurants, as owners have no choice but to pass along the higher prices of their orders to their customers. The owner of a bagel shop in New York City recently told the New York Times that he is now paying $150-160 for the same order of 30 dozen eggs that he was paying $70-80 just a year ago.
When Will Prices Come Down?
While demand for eggs is down slightly at the moment, due to the post-holiday shift in meal preparation, eggs are still an essential part of the average kitchen, and consumers are wondering when they will see lower prices at their corner grocery store. The beginning of
the lower price cycle will likely not begin until the avian flu outbreak is under control. In addition, many farms order baby chicks as much as two years in advance, and the average hen doesn’t start producing eggs until about 5 months old. As a result, it could be summer or even fall, before prices recede for good.
Read more about the food industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
December 20, 2022
Research practitioners have a lot on their hands when it comes to designing an effective survey instrument and ensuring quality is not affected during data collection. Another important point researchers have to consider is avoiding respondent bias. Biased responses lead to inaccurate data and can incorrectly prompt companies to make changes that they didn’t need to make while leaving the need for other course corrections unrecognized. Fortunately, there are ways that researchers can recognize and avoid response bias in their surveys.
What is Respondent Bias?
Respondent bias lies more with the questions in a survey, and not so much with the willingness (or not) on the part of the respondents to answer the questions. Respondents can give inaccurate answers to questions due to conscious and subconscious factors, so it’s important that questions are worded carefully in order to get the most accurate responses. Respondents might not even realize that they are giving untruthful or inaccurate answers, but it affects the outcome of the data collection just the same.
Never Lead the Witness
So how can researchers avoid respondent bias and get the highest quality survey answers? One crucial thing that researchers can do is ensure that their survey questions are not framed in a way that leads the respondent to answer a question in a certain way. For example, if a survey had a question that read “How awful are plant-based burgers?”, it could lead the respondent to think, “Yes plant-based burgers are awful.” A better, non-leading question would be “What do you think of plant-based burgers?”
Leading questions can also happen with scaled questions. For example, a question on a survey could ask a respondent if they were extremely dissatisfied, dissatisfied, or satisfied. Offering more options for dissatisfied answers is biased and leads survey respondents in that direction. It is also important to always offer the respondent the option not to answer a question. Providing a ‘Prefer not to answer” option in a survey, or even offering a way for survey respondents to opt out of participating is important to avoid bias. Researchers should also craft survey questions in a way that is dynamic– make sure to use language that is clear and transparent and that avoids negative terms, such as the word ‘not’.
Learn to Trade Places
Finally, an easy way for researchers to avoid respondent bias in surveys is to imagine themselves in the place of the survey participants. If they were taking the survey, what would constitute bias in the eyes of the respondent? It’s important for researchers to take a 360-degree view of their surveys in order to ensure the best possible outcome for quality data collection.
Eyes4Research has an intuitive and easy-to-use survey platform with over 22 million double opt-in panelists, making it easy for companies to find just the right audience for their surveys. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.
November 16, 2022
4 Food Industry Consumer Trends to Watch
Grocery shopping, like many household duties on the to-do list, is something that there never seems to be time for. Also like many other aspects of modern life, consumers are looking for ever-increasing personalization and looking for ways to make the chore of grocery shopping more exciting by finding food that inspires them and gets their family to the dinner table. Here are 4 food industry trends that illustrate how consumers shop for and what motivates their decisions.
While online grocery shopping has already well-established before the pandemic, lockdown prompted many more people to turn to e-commerce for their weekly grocery shopping. A recent Food Industry Association (FMI) report found that 64 percent of consumers surveyed stated that they shopped for groceries online at least occasionally, even after the height of the pandemic. But with higher prices both in the stores and at the gasoline pumps, shoppers are splitting how they spend their money. The same report also found consumers are increasingly turning to hybrid shopping for groceries, as inflation and the price of gas continues to be a drain on budgets. In a search for both quality and value, consumers are spreading their spending across stores, with shopping clubs offering more specific shopping experiences and traditional grocery stores attracting consumers with their fresh categories, like produce and prepared foods.
Even in the face of rising food prices, consumers are showing a taste for high-quality food products, and are willing to pay more for them. The FMI report shows that among the consumers who stated that they were paying more for groceries this year, 19 percent of them indicated that it was because they were buying higher-quality products. Higher-income earners and parents were the top consumers purchasing the premium products, with items like baby food, plant-based products, meal kits, and fresh, prepared foods topping the list of products that consumers are willing to pay more for.
‘Food Rule’ Eating
Consumers have moved away from classic diets meant for weight loss and have embraced a more personalized way of eating based on food rules. These dietary guidelines influence how and where consumers shop. The keto diet, the latest version of a low-carb diet, is currently followed by 12.9 million Americans and has launched its own sizable category of products in the food industry. In addition, plant-based eating has grown in popularity, as well, with many people embracing it as an entire lifestyle, beyond just food. Clean eating has also been influential in how consumers shop.
With busy professionals and harried parents needing to get something on the table fast every evening, prepared food is becoming increasingly popular. In 2019, grocery store deli departments sold nearly $15B in prepared foods. Grocery stores often offer items that are marketed as compliments to a meal, but consumers who don’t have time to cook are on the hunt for entrees, and it has become the fastest-growing segment in the fresh deli-prepared food category. The reopening of hot bars and salad bars after the height of the pandemic offered opportunities for grocery stores to rethink their prepared food selections and offer time-starved consumers creative, high-quality solutions for mealtime.
Stay up-to-date on the food industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from general consumers and heads of household who make purchasing decisions on food and grocery purchases. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.