March 10, 2023
Since their inception in the early 20 th century, Hollywood and the film industry have been
major drivers of consumer pop culture. There’s no doubt that Hollywood is synonymous
with modern American culture, and as the film industry has influenced American
consumer habits, Americans were historically the biggest supporters of the industry. In
2020, though, many things changed. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, China
overtook North America as the largest box office territory in gross receipts and the rise
in Chinese and Indian cinema has challenged Hollywood’s global hegemony in the
industry. Perhaps even more important, the emergence of online streaming services
has also challenged the traditional American cinema. In this new, post-COVID cinema
landscape, film and cinema companies will only be successful if they understand
consumers’ changing tastes and the trends that will affect the industry in the years
Hollywood may have been a major force behind American consumerism, but consumer
trends have also affected how the film industry has done business and will continue to
do so in the future. Even before COVID closed down cinemas across the country, many
permanently, consumer tastes were moving away from the “in theater” movie
experience. In a 2018 study about consumers’ movie watching habits, 28% of the
respondents strongly preferred to watch movies in a theater, while those who preferred
streaming were 15%. Two years later, in June 2020, those numbers were nearly
inverted from 14% preference for the theater and 36% for streaming. Although COVID
certainly played a role in that inversion, streaming already had a large audience before
the pandemic and the trend was well underway. These numbers raise the questions:
what’s the future for the cinema industry and how does that future affect the average
An examination of current film and cinema industry trends, as well as the emergence of
streaming services, particularly day-and-day release, reveals that this new
entertainment paradigm is not so simple. The film and cinema industries will have to
adapt to new consumer tastes, while the streaming services will constantly seek to
replace empty theater seats with more downloads from the comfort of one’s home.
Ultimately, successful brands will realize that consumers want more choice and freedom
to consume movies and content in a variety of different ways, on a plethora of different
Welcome to Hollywood!
There’s no doubt that America is the home of the global film industry. The oldest and
first film studios began in Hollywood in the early 1900s, although inventor Thomas
Edison almost made West Orange, New Jersey the epicenter of the film industry in the
late 1800s. The first sound films hit cinemas in the late 1920s, and by that time a film
culture had taken hold across the country. Americans of all backgrounds, in all regions,
enjoyed spending their disposable income at movie theaters, and even after the Great
Depression hit in the 1930s, Americans continued to patronize movie theaters as a form
of escape. The emergence of affordable televisions, and television studios in the late
1950s, didn’t change Americans’ movie going habits much either, as the two forms of
media peacefully coexisted for decades, offering different niches for American
consumers. But by the 1990s new technologies began to challenge the dominance of
As computers became more affordable and the World Wide Web became accessible to
a wide percentage of the population in the 1990s, entrepreneurs began reimagining how
people watched moves. Video cassette recording (VCR) machines was the standard
consumer technology used to watch movies at home during the 1980s and most of the
1990s, but by the late 1990s digital music disk DVD (DVD) machines and streaming
was becoming more common, with the latter eventually disrupting the home
entertainment space as well as the cinema/theater. Facilitated by increased bandwidth
and affordable internet access, companies were able to offer their customers on-
demand access to movies “streamed” on-line.
Video rental company Netflix made the first leap into streaming in 2007, and by 2008 its
streamed content surged past its DVD rentals. The business model was a success, so
within a few years other notable companies – including Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV,
Disney+, and HBO Max – followed with their own streaming, on-demand movie
services. Despite the phenomenal growth of streaming brands in the 2010s, though,
movie theaters continued to have the monopoly on first-releases. But the events of 2020
changed many things in the world, including how people consumed movies.
COVID and the Film Industry
Before the COVID pandemic disrupted the global film and cinema industry, streaming
services were setting the stage of things to come with day-and-date/simultaneous
releases. Simultaneous releases are films that are released in theaters and on
streaming services, simultaneously, giving both consumers and film studios more
choices. The new trend began in the 2000s with independent films and small film
studios, but greatly increased when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020. Movie theater
companies were immediately faced with a new paradigm that offered more choices to
Although consumers were forced into this new entertainment paradigm, they quickly
accepted the reality. By May 2020, 62% of US adults subscribed to at least one
streaming service. Overall, the number of Americans who subscribed to streaming
services doubled from an already large number of 125 million to about 250 million, and
perhaps more importantly, the time the average person spent streaming increased by
75%. Consumers have enjoyed the convenience of streaming and film studios have
welcomed the lower costs as well, but theater owners and companies have been hurt by
diluted box office revenue.
Consumer Bailout of American Theaters?
Despite the massive challenge posed by streaming brands and the problems of COVID,
there are some signs that the American cinema industry has rebounded and adjusted to
the new normal, which may bode well for consumers. In 2022, total cinema revenues
are expected to reach $4.4 billion, which is a 91% increase from 2020. With that said,
it’s still a 61% decrease from pre-COVID numbers. Inflation was also thought to throw a
monkey wrench in the movie theater industry’s recovery, but in the summer of 2022
visits to AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark – the “big three” of American
movie theater chains – were only down 24.9%, 15.5%, and 4.1% respectively from the
same period in June 2019. The apparent resiliency of the American movie theater
industry is the result of a combination of brand loyalty and new strategies by the movie
An initial glance at the numbers of who’s going to movie theaters today may at first
seem quite negative. Casual movie goers haven’t yet returned to the theaters, as 49%
are no longer visiting multiplexes, with some studies estimating that 8% of that number
will likely never return. The good news for theaters is that those who have returned to
the theaters are loyal, frequent movie goers who go to the cinema at least once a
month. This loyal consumer base will drive future sales, and the movie studios and
cinema chains that realize this will prosper. The evolving movie goer demographic has
already changed the content theaters are showing: big budget action films have
continued to sell well in the new paradigm, while dramas may soon be relegated to
The trend in moving watching is definitely moving toward more streaming and less
theater activity, but this doesn’t mean that new innovations or opportunities aren’t
available for entrepreneurs and consumers in the movie theater space. It’s likely that the
hybrid model of simultaneous releases will continue to grow, with loyal movie goers
keeping the cinema industry profitable. The number of movie theaters will probably
decrease, and expect to see smaller theaters, but loyalty to the concept and certain
cinema brands will ensure the industry’s survival. And as streaming brands also adjust
to this new reality, expect to see even more consumer orientated changes in those
You’ve no doubt recently watched a video on demand and noticed advertising before,
during, and after the content. This advertising, which is known as advertising-video-on-
demand (AVOD), is expected to increase dramatically in the next few years. Consumers
can pay a monthly fee to watch the content ad free, or watch it with ads as part of a
larger streaming service’s bundle. IMDb TV first launched in 2018 with AVOD content,
and although many thought it was a bad idea, by 2021 the streaming service had 55
million monthly active users and many million more who watch the brand’s AVOD
content on larger streaming services such as Amazon Prime. Overall, film and TV
consumers today enjoy the freedom to choose movie theaters or streaming, as long as
the experience is user friendly.
A recent survey about streaming and movie watching habits revealed that 55% of the
respondents chose “ease of use” for what they liked best about their favorite services.
This answer includes not just the features of streaming services, but the ability and
freedom to watch streaming content on an array of devices. Today’s movie consumers
enjoy the freedom to watch new releases in a movie theater or at home on a computer,
tablet, or even their phone. As smartphones technology improves, expect more people
to watch simultaneous releases on their phones.
The New Theater Paradigm
Some experts believed that a combination of streaming technology and the COVID
pandemic would be the death knell of the movie theater business, and although reports
of American cinema’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, the business landscape
has sure changed. The major successful studios, cinema companies, and streaming
services have realized that consumer tastes regarding movie going is evolving and the
brands that offer their customers more choices and freedoms concerning how to watch
content will be poised for success in this new entertainment paradigm.
March 9, 2023
November 2024 might seem like an eternity from now, but the puzzle pieces of the upcoming election are slowly starting to fall into place. While we wait to see exactly which candidates will end up on the ballot, what has come into sharper focus are the issues that could affect the outcome of the election. Here are 5 things that could be front and center on voters’ minds as they head to the polls next year.
When it was revealed that a Chinese spy balloon was spotted flying over several states in February and that it was part of a larger Chinese surveillance program that has been operating for several years, Americans were alarmed. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanded to know why it took so long to shoot the object down. Several days later, it was confirmed that the U.S. military shot down another unidentified object over Alaskan airspace.
The war in Ukraine will be another geopolitical issue on voters’ minds. While Americans continue to largely back the U.S. effort to provide security support, along with its allies, Republican lawmakers have started to express reservations about how much longer that support should continue, and some voters have followed suit.
The results of the midterm elections, which handed Democratic unexpected victories across the country, were proof that the issue of abortion was important for many voters, who were still angry by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. In Wisconsin, there is a race for an open seat on the state’s Supreme Court, and whoever the newly elected judge is will join the rest of the court in hearing about the state’s contested 1849 abortion law. This law allows for no exceptions for abortion, except if the life of the mother is at risk. Groups on both sides of the issue have committed to funneling money and resources into this judicial race.
Social Security & Medicare
When Florida Senator Rick Scott introduced his multi-point plan that details his ideas to sunset all federal legislation in 5 years, older voters were immediately concerned about what that meant for programs like Social Security and Medicare. Scott’s thought process is that if a law is worth keeping, Congress would just pass it again. President Biden has seized upon that messaging and has been telling voters that Social Security and Medicare would be on the chopping block, along with other entitlements. Scott has pushed back, stating that it is “dishonest” to assert that he would get rid of two programs that so many older voters rely on. This will most likely be a major part of the narrative as election season gets underway.
Led by Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Republicans have put their power behind legislation that targets members of the LGBTQ community. Gender-affirming health care, transgender high school and college athletes and drag queen shows have all been in the crossfires of GOP lawmakers. The most talked-about of this new batch of legislation is Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which bars elementary school teachers from teaching anything that is related to topics concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Lawmakers in several other states are considering similar laws, as well as ones that would ban gender-affirming health care for minors.
Also on the agenda of many Republican lawmakers, including some who are rumored to be presidential hopefuls, is the topic of education. More specifically, how much choice parents should have over what their children are being taught in their classrooms. Florida governor DeSantis is again leading the way, with his administration rejecting an Advanced Placement course on African American studies.
This follows earlier discourse that arose ahead of the midterms of 2022 regarding the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 education. Even though CRT is taught primarily in graduate-level classes at universities, it has become a catch-all phrase for any teaching about race and racism in school, in general.
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March 1, 2023
The number of people who consider themselves sustainable-minded consumers is on the increase, and brands have taken notice, with messaging that highlights their own attention to more environmentally-minded practices and ingredients. Recent research by IBM revealed that 77% of consumers consider sustainability and environmental responsibility to be at least “moderately important” brand values. This trend is reflected in the sales data, as sustainably-marketed products have seen growth that is five to six times higher than comparable conventional products, according to a study by Harvard Business Review. But who are these sustainable consumers and exactly which sustainability claims inspire them to buy?
Who Are Sustainable Consumers?
Overall, interest in sustainability tends to be evenly distributed between genders. And although there are other factors that also impact interest in environmental issues, like income level, geography, education level, and dietary habits (plant-based, vegan, vegetarian, etc), it is age that is the biggest difference between those who are more attuned to sustainability and those who are not.
It is younger consumers– specifically Gen Z shoppers, who tend to have an eye toward environmental concerns when making purchasing decisions. In a recent interview with CNBC, Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider described sustainability concerns among the company’s younger customers as “off the charts”, and a major influence on their purchase decisions. But Gen Z isn’t the only generation that is environmentally minded. Millennials also care deeply about these issues, even if their attitudes about other social issues temper a bit as they age. Sustainability seems to be the exception to that rule, as it remains an issue that they keep in mind when shopping for food and other products, such as clothing and pet products.
Staying on the subject of generations, it is also worth noting the influence that younger generations can have on older ones with regard to sustainability. Young people who don’t have much disposable income need to rely on their parents and maybe grandparents, in order to get what they want. Over time, this can begin to influence the decisions of those older people and have a ‘trickle upward’ effect that could leave a mark on future consumer behavior.
What Does ‘Sustainability’ Mean to Consumers?
Now that we know who the sustainable consumers are, what are the exact motivations that they have in mind when they are deciding on one product over another? Environmentally-minded shoppers want to buy products that are healthier and clean, they want to reduce their individual environmental footprint, and they want to leave behind a better planet for future generations. In a recent study on sustainability, McKinsey found that 85% of consumers buying plant-based foods are motivated by health reasons, making the case that for these shoppers, their personal health is directly tied to the health of the planet. For these consumers, sustainability and health are essentially synonymous.
With this in mind, what are the specific claims that shoppers look for when they want to trust that a product is indeed sustainable, both in the item itself and how it was produced? There are more than 20 eco-labels and environmental certifications for food in the United States. In the McKinsey study mentioned above, 33% of respondents cited ‘recyclable’ as the most impactful sustainable packaging claim that they look for when buying a new product. In the sea of eco-friendly messaging, including some that are meant to mislead consumers, as is the case with ‘greenwashing’, this finding points to the fact that shoppers want sustainability claims to be truthful, clear, and familiar.
How Brands Can Authentically Capitalize on Sustainability
In 2022, the Baker Retailing Institute at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that found that 90% of Gen X consumers were willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products, compared to 34% two years prior. This not only points to the influence of younger generations that was mentioned earlier, but it is also evidence that there is room for brands to look at their practices to offer more environmentally-focused products to their customers. There are three ways that brands can capitalize on the trend toward sustainability in ways that will be authentic and resonate with consumers:
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February 27, 2023
The veterinary industry is complex and among the most competitive globally. The number of consumers needing veterinarian services is growing and the landscape of animal health and welfare is ever-changing, with more pet owners looking for high-quality products to optimize the health of their pets. Here are 6 trends that are helping to shape the future of veterinary services.
Lockdown-Fueled Pet Ownership Rise
The loneliness and boredom that many people experienced during lockdown prompted a rush of people wanting a pet to pass the time with. While some of the households that brought pets home during this time have since rehoused those animals after going back to the office, there was still a rise in pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic that has carried over, post-pandemic.
Smart Pet Gadgets
Pet products powered by technology are everywhere and are making being a pet owner a little easier for consumers. Companies like Petcube, which has introduced a camera that attaches to a pet collar which allows the owner to view a live-streamed account of what is happening at home, including a pet’s everyday activities. Other ‘smart’ pet products include feeders that deliver food items straight into a bowl and trackers that help owners find pets who have wandered away from home.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, it is estimated that there are 21 million households with pets in the U.S. alone. If companion animals were thrown into the mix, that number would be closer to around 23 million. This has created a vast market for pet-friendly homes as people are looking for housing that allows them to live with their pets. A recent study by the American Pet Products Association revealed that there was an 8% increase in the sale of pet-related products in 2021, including pet food, toys, accessories, etc, which may be attributed to this trend of consumers choosing pet-friendly housing options for their homes and offices.
The Rising Market for Exotic Pets
Not to be outdone by cats and dogs, there is also a growing market for pets that are a little out of the ordinary, like birds, snakes, and even spiders. Because these animals are more low-maintenance than cats and dogs, this category of pet has become more popular with higher-income consumers. The American Pet Products study mentioned above also found that 12.2% of American households currently care for one or more types of pet in addition to a dog or a cat, an increase from 10.8% over the last five years. This data points to a robust market for a wider variety of household pets.
Adopt, Don’t Shop Campaigns
A recent study by the National Pet Alliance revealed that there are more than 10 million pets in shelters across the U.S. But even with that staggering number of pets waiting to be adopted, most people still buy pets instead of adopting them from shelters. To reverse this trend, there have been several awareness campaigns launched in recent years encouraging people to adopt their pets instead of shopping for them at pet stores. These campaigns have included adoption drives at local shelters, which often waive or drastically reduce adoption fees for the duration of the drive, as well as social media campaigns.
Wellness Isn’t Just for Humans
Wellness, specifically in the form of vitamins and probiotics, is becoming more common for pets, as their owners look for ways to keep their furry friends as healthy and happy as possible. The pet supplement industry is growing and veterinarians are helping owners learn more about how to be more intentional in the care of their pets, beyond yearly checkups and feeding them the right food. Even other health issues, like anxiety and stress, are on the radar of pet owners, as they seek advice from their veterinarians on products like CBD supplements. Relatively new on the market for pets, CBD supplements come in the form of oils and chews and can help alleviate anxiety and chronic pain in cats and dogs.
Keeping up with consumer trends is crucial for every industry. Veterinarians have many challenges to navigate in their daily practices, but staying in the loop with what consumers want and need will allow veterinarians to give their clients higher-quality advice and build deeper and longer-lasting relationships with them.
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February 15, 2023
When you think about the world’s biggest brands, what is it about them that captures your attention and makes them memorable? Sometimes, it’s an eye-catching combination of complementary colors or a clean, modern logo, and sometimes it is that unmistakable sound in all of their commercials. Whatever the it factor that makes a brand stand out from its competition, its marketing team likely employed research to learn what is happening in the market and activated that data of what works and what doesn’t work into a successful branding strategy. Here are 4 ways that conducting market research can help shape and strengthen your brand.
Research Helps Brands Avoid Unforced Errors
No one wants to be that brand that tried to capture a new audience and proceeded to fail miserably by misreading the room. Those types of missteps can be difficult to recover from, if it happens at all. But these mistakes are emblematic of the importance of market research when doing anything brand-related, whether it is a single campaign or a full marketing strategy for a product launch.
It’s usually when brands attempt to shift a bit or get noticed by a new demographic that things can go wrong. Women and young people are two target markets that are somehow still deeply misunderstood, even to this day. Market research would help brands learn how to communicate effectively with these two audiences. A good example of this type of misread is the way that brands will change the color of a product to pink, expecting that it will instantly make that product desirable to women. BIC famously tried this with their pens– changing their regular pens to pink and purple, renaming them For Her. Not surprisingly, women balked, and the pens were mocked on national television on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, by Ellen herself.
In another widely criticized move, a Pepsi commercial used the backdrop of the social unrest that followed in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 to try and connect with a younger audience. In the commercial, Kendall Jenner offers a police officer a Pepsi, in an attempt to create a moment of peace in the midst of chaos. Needless to say, the campaign was ridiculed by nearly everyone and the commercial was quickly taken out of rotation.
Create A Strong Customer-Focused Brand
Developing deep and meaningful connections with an audience that stand the test of time is always a challenge for any brand. Brands cannot be created behind closed doors internally with little to no input from consumers in the market that the brand plans to enter. Using the tools of market research is how brands will gather data, make the necessary connections with consumers to learn what they want from a brand, and remove the guesswork. This is where brands learn how to create loyal customers.
Research is Crucial For A New Product Launch
The launch of a new brand isn’t the only time when market research is necessary. Even established brands need to know where a new product or service will land when it hits the market. Introducing a new product can be tricky– will consumers recognize that product as part of the existing brand? When the insights gained from market research are used, brands can be assured that consumers will indeed recognize a new product as part of their brand. Gaps in the market will also become clear, giving brands a pathway to claim that untapped part of the market and gain a competitive advantage for new products and services now and in the future.
Improve Your Brand Perception With Insights From Consumers
Market research is an essential part of branding, and can be used to establish and improve perception in a number of ways. Elements as seemingly simple as color combination, logo, and even the pitch of a sound in sonic branding, can affect the perception of a brand and needs to be tested via research.
Regardless of what is being sold, a brand needs to have an easily discernible personality. Using the correct research methods such as presenting ideas to a focus group helps brands check in with their audience to learn if the personality that they want to put forward is hitting the desired note, or missing the mark, as in the examples of the mistakes mentioned above. In the case of Pepsi, perhaps they could have learned through research that young people are smarter and more culturally savvy than previously assumed.
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February 10, 2023
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, it was impossible to know how long the conflict would last, what form it would eventually take, and how it would affect Europe and the rest of the world. But now, edging closer to one year later, the economic toll it is having on the global economy is more clear. The war began against a backdrop of global inflation, rising food and energy prices, and supply chains that remained disrupted because of the pandemic. As it continues, it is exacerbating supply and demand tensions, damaging consumer sentiment, and threatening economic growth around the world.
The War’s Effect on Global Trade and Investment
The war in Ukraine has caused worldwide disruptions to trade and investments, affecting auto companies in Europe, and the global hospitality industry, and impacting consumers of food and fuel the world over. The world’s poorest people spend a larger percentage of their earnings on the necessities of life, but every country, region, and industry is being affected by these disruptions in trade.
A recent report by World Bank revealed that world trade will drop by 1 percent in 2023, lowering the global GDP by 1 percent. The report points out that manufacturing exporters like Mexico, Vietnam, and Thailand will see a sharp decline, while Net exporters of crops, including Turkey, Brazil, and India, and of fossil fuels, such as Nigeria and countries in the Middle East, will see a surge in their exports. Disruptions in world trade and investment will slow growth in developing countries and add to the price pressures that still exist, due to persistent inflation.
The Problems with Food and Energy Supply
Out of all of the negative effects of the war in Ukraine, the potential for a food shortage crisis remains the most alarming concern to be considered. Prices of wheat and other grains have already skyrocketed as a result of the war. The looming crisis is a result of both Russia and Ukraine accounting for 25 percent of the world’s wheat exports and 14 percent of corn shipments. There are many countries that are dependent on this flow of wheat and corn, such as The Republic of Congo, which relies on imports from the Black Sea region for 67 percent of the wheat it consumes. The Russia-Ukraine region is seen as one of the six global “breadbaskets”– parts of the world that are considered major food producers for the rest of the world.
In addition to food prices, energy prices are also greatly affected, as Russia is one of the world’s biggest energy suppliers, most specifically crude oil and natural gas. Natural gas is a key ingredient in ammonia fertilizer, which pushes up costs for farmers and reduces their crop yields, further exacerbating food shortages.
The Long-Term Effects of the War in Ukraine
Some economic analysts fear the ongoing war will lead to a slow reversal of globalization, which has been a major driver of the world economy over the past 30 years. Their fear lies in the belief that companies will re-assess geo-political risks and move production away from countries and regions that they view as risky. But because of the capital that companies have already invested and the difference in wages across regions, it is believed that if this shift happens, the change will be gradual, rather than sudden. And this type of reversal would most likely not occur without the foundation of intentional government intervention.
Another possible long-term effect of rising food and fuel prices and resulting food shortages is the threat of social unrest in poorer countries. The financial conditions for these countries and other developing economies started to deteriorate immediately following the invasion, meaning that the longer the war drags on, the more dire the situation can get for the most vulnerable countries.
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January 11, 2023
Among the many revolutionary changes in consumer culture over the last several years, one that’s often overlooked is how people pay for their goods and receive them. As the technology revolution has changed how we work and live, it’s also changed how we pay for goods and services, with many people welcoming this change. The old way of paying for goods and services involved many hands-on steps, but the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and advances in consumer technology have made contactless payment options on cards, smartphones, and payment apps, along with curbside pickup for goods, popular options. Successful brands have taken advantage of this trend and even as fears of COVID have subsided, brands that understand the popularity of the contactless trend are positioned for success.
Contactless payments refers to any payment option that eliminates or limits points of contact between the consumer and the business. The most popular contactless payment option is through credit and debit cards, but smartphones also have built in contactless payment options, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and there are also several third party contactless payment options – including PayPal and Cash App – that can be accessed on phones at the point of sale. Consumers have adopted contactless payment for a number of reasons, including cleanliness, convenience, and for many young people, it’s a way to stay current with tech trends.
Somewhat separate from, although related to the contactless payment trend is the curbside pickup trend, or as it is commonly known – BIOPOIS – for “buy online pickup in store.” The BIOPOIS trend was also accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and like contactless payment a large segment of the consumer population has readily accepted it for many of the same reasons, indicating that it will likely stay a part of the retail landscape for some time. Both of these trends present plenty of opportunities for brands to connect with new and existing customers, and for consumers to support their favorite brands in ways that are safe and convenient. So let’s see how these trends developed, the benefits they offer to brands and consumers, and their futures in the American retail landscape.
From Cashless to Contactless Payments
Although the concept of contactless payment is fairly new, cashless payments paved the way for this trend. Checks, money orders, and electronic transfers were all the first step toward contactless payments, but as paying by check and money order has been an option for quite some time, what changed? The answer to that may seem simple at first, but it’s actually multi-faceted.
The first factor that facilitated the transition from cashless to contactless payments, and the one that most people probably think of, is improvements in technology; but even this is somewhat complex because it involves many different improvements. Overall, technology is more reliable, secure, and faster, which has allowed electronic contactless payments to take place, but if there’s one particular technology that accelerated this process it was radio-frequency identity tech (RFID).
RFID technology utilizes electromagnetic fields to identify and track objects that have tags attached to them. Sony introduced the first RFID card in 2004 that could be used in credit cards or phones, giving the user the option to make a payment without having to hand his card to the teller or to swipe the card. Once RFID technology became a reality, it opened the door for a host of new technologies and apps.
By the late 2000s and early 2010s a host of mobile payments apps, including PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, became commonly accepted, adding to trend. Google and Apple then followed with their own proprietary mobile payment apps and digital wallets, giving consumers even more options to make as little contact as possible at the point of sale.
The final and perhaps the most important factor that has driven the contactless payment and curbside pickup trend has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear of catching and/or spreading COVID drove retailers to offer more contactless payment and curbside pickup options in 2020, which were readily accepted by a large segment of the population out of a perceived necessity.
The evolution of curbside pickup followed a similar route as contactless payments, although its origins are decidedly more low tech. Pizza and other types of food delivery were the forerunners to curbside pickup, but as with contactless payments, the trend took on a new life when COVID-19 hit. But beyond the COVID pandemic, companies have utilized curbside pickup as another channel in the omnichannel marketing chain, allowing them to have more contact with consumers without having physical contact. So now that these trends have become part of the retail landscape in America, where will these trends go and what benefits do they hold for consumers?
The Future of Contactless Payments and Curbside Pickup
The numbers indicate that as smartphone use increases globally, so will contactless payments. In 2021, the market size of mobile wallets was $6.2 billion globally, and that’s expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 27.4% from 2022 to 2030. Although the average American loves his or her smartphone, the numbers also show that the market adoption of mobile wallet use in the US in lagging behind Asia, which had a 30% revenue share of the market in 2021. The numbers show that there’s plenty of opportunity in the mobile wallet space in the US, so expect retailers to more aggressively push options.
It should also be noted also that although Americans may be lagging behind Asians in the use of mobile wallets, they are whole heartedly accepting contactless credit cards. VISA estimated there would be more than 300 million contactless credit in the US alone, which was up from 100 million in 2019. As consumers react well and increasingly accept mobile wallets and contactless credit cards in great numbers, the adoption of curbside pickup will likely not be as notable, but it will be steady nonetheless.
There’s no doubt that the curbside pickup trend gained serious momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2020, at the height of the pandemic, nearly 44% of US retailers offered the service, which was up 500% from two years prior. The numbers also show that the trend may be permanent and that it’s no longer being driven by the elderly, infirmed, or hypochondriacs. A study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the SCAN Foundation found that 33% of young adults under the age of 50 who started using curbside pickup during the pandemic say they will continue to do so, citing convenience, safety, and increased spending discipline as reasons.
Taking a Hands-Off Approach
The numbers show that contactless payment options are growing, as more and more consumers learn and adopt these new technologies. Studies also show that curbside pickup is more than just an ephemeral trend, but is now a permanent part of the retail landscape. Both of these retail trends were brought about by a number of factors, but fear and new technology were the primary forces. As consumers have adopted these payment and pickup options and learned their benefits, it’s likely that even more innovations are on the horizon in the future, and brands that recognize this consumer trend and learn how to take advantage of it will be better positioned for success in the new retail landscape.
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.
December 14, 2022
The global pet care business is expected to reach $241.1B by 2026. For pet product manufacturers, veterinarians are an integral part of their business model. Not only are veterinarians customers, but they are decision-makers and can recommend products (or not), to the pet owners who are their clients. It is necessary for manufacturers of pet products to know what will encourage veterinarians to choose their products.
In order to understand what is important to veterinarians, manufacturers will need to gather insights from this audience to gain an advantage over their competition. The data collected from veterinarians will tell manufacturers what is selling and not selling, what the market trends are, and what part, if any, of the brand story is resonating with the veterinarian audience. Learning how to market to veterinarians will help manufacturers learn what matters to veterinarians and help them hone in on unmet needs within the market. Here are 4 ways companies can effectively market to veterinarians.
Refine and Tell Your Brand Story
The foundation of a pet care company’s brand story starts with understanding its place in the pet care ecosystem within the context of the competition. That starts with market research. Dig deep into the data collected and learn exactly what competing brands are doing and why the veterinarian audience is loyal to them. Companies should also tap into the information that is gathered from other research involving veterinarians, like scientific trials, to integrate it into their own brand story and become experts in their space. When it comes to actually telling the story, nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, and pet owners are more than happy to sing the praises of a product that they love. Those stories are important when a veterinarian is considering a new product to recommend to their pet owners.
Advocate for Veterinarians By Listening to Them
Analyzing data and conducting research online with the veterinarian audience is important, but it is also equally important to add an additional layer to the research and actually talk to veterinarians. Gathering anecdotal information from veterinarians at trade shows, for example, can offer deeper insights from veterinarians about what they really need and what their challenges are, either with other products or in their practices. When companies position themselves as advocates for their customers, it can only make their products and their brand story better in return.
Foster Loyalty and Keep It
Tap into the power of training. It is common that veterinarians will often carry the same products they used during their training in school into their own practice and stay loyal to those products. Companies that establish those relationships with the veterinarian audience early on while still in school, will have a distinct advantage over their competitors.
Selecting a Reputable Panel Provider
Finding a quality veterinarian panel is not easy. Eyes4Research owns and operates one of the few veterinarian panels in the continental U.S. Companies should take the time to vet panel providers: Ask the providers if their panelists are certified; what type of profile information they keep on their members, such as the veterinarian school attended, year of graduation, the types of animals (small, large, or both) the veterinarians on the panels treat.
When considering your marketing strategy for the veterinarian audience, keep in mind that they are looking to elevate their careers and improve their practices and their relationship with their clients. They want products to help them in that endeavor, and market research helps achieve that goal.
Partner with Eyes4Research for everything you need to collect high-quality insights from veterinarians. Our panels are made up of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here so that you can make your product the product of choice for veterinarians.
December 7, 2022
Who are General Contractors?
In the construction industry, a general contractor is a person who is responsible for overseeing a construction project. Typically, property owners will hire general contractors to make sure a construction job is completed safely, on time, and according to specifications. General contractors also referred to as GCs, are important for both complex commercial construction as well more straightforward residential projects. However, a general contractor is likely needed for any project that requires coordinating several stages or multiple tradespeople to complete the job. The contractor is essentially the liaison between the property owner and all of the people involved in the construction of the building, including the tradespeople, vendors, and materials suppliers. They are also responsible for providing all of the building materials, labor, tools, and construction vehicles as well as all of the services needed for the project.
The responsibilities of the general contractor depend on what is needed for the project. If there is a design component involved, the contractor might manage both the design, as well as the construction of the project. On a more traditional construction job, the general contractor would manage only the construction itself, after the architect has already set the design and specifications. They will take complete control of a construction project and are responsible for hiring specialists and subcontractors. The general contractors will then schedule and plan out the different stages of the project.
The Types of Projects Builders Work On
A licensed, experienced builder is able to handle and manage a wide variety of tasks on a construction site. In general, they scout and accept jobs that involve everything from basic remodeling projects to supervising the construction of a new home or an office building. If the job is large enough, the general contractor can find themselves directly working on carpentry, roofing, painting, foundation or earthmoving work, and electrical, or plumbing work. The type of work that the general contractor can do depends on the limits of their specific licenses.
How General Contractors Impact the Construction Industry
As mentioned earlier, general contractors bring their established relationships with other people working in or in support of the construction industry to the projects that they work on, having a direct impact on the industry. In order to complete their jobs, they need vehicles, materials, people, and tools, which contribute to the construction industry in terms of spending and job creation. In 2019, the global revenue generated by general contractors was approximately $473B. Between 2020 and 2030, construction and extraction occupations are expected to gain more than 400,000 new jobs in the U.S. Contractors are also adopting new technologies, like wearables in order to reduce workplace-related injury claims, and software to improve efficiencies and profitability.
Benefits and Challenges When Targeting Builders and General Contractors for Research
For a market researcher, general contractors are a difficult target to survey. They are unlikely to just be sitting at their desk waiting to take a survey. They work long hours and spend their time out on job sites, and only have a very limited amount of time to participate in surveys. But there are a few things that market researchers can do to improve the participation of general contractors in surveys.
Keeping Contractors and Builders Engaged
So how can a researcher keep the attention of a general contractor while they are conducting a survey or an interview? Making sure that surveys are relevant to them and their profession, goes a long way. As does keeping the surveys short and sweet to be considerate of their time. Meeting with contractors for in-person interviews on job sites is an effective way to get real-time feedback on new tools, like a drill, which will also allow them to compare that drill to other drills they have used. An enticing incentive like being able to keep the drill will help boost participation rates.
General contractors are an important part of the construction industry, touching many different areas of projects, big and small. Getting their insights is more challenging than some other audiences, but with planning and foresight, it is possible to boost participation in surveys for research.
Read more about the construction industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from general contractors. 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.