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.
Read more about registered voters on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from registered voters. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our registered voter panel, as well as our other specialty panels, here.
March 7, 2023
The disruption at colleges and universities during the height of the pandemic had a lasting and dramatic effect on college students. In addition to students being required to make the shift to remote learning while their campuses were closed, a recent study conducted by Montclair State University found that students at the university were profoundly affected by stress related to academic and financial issues, as well as COVID itself during lockdown in the spring of 2020. For many, these pressures led to them making the decision to take a break from their studies or drop out of college altogether.
Some high school students, who dealt with their own stressors while adjusting to a different type of school day during the pandemic, are opting to delay college or choose a different path that doesn’t include earning a college degree, at all. So what is it that is causing students to forgo college, and what are they choosing to do instead?
The Rising Cost of College
Even before the pandemic upended the lives of college students, the price of education was skyrocketing. According to the most recent College Board’s Trends in College Pricing report, private colleges increased tuition by about $7,000 on average every ten years from 1991 until the pandemic. Over the last 30 years, average private college tuition prices have nearly doubled from $19,360 in 1992 to $38,070.
The same report reveals that public universities saw a shocking tuition price increase of 158.2% from 1991 to 2021. Many universities have announced plans to increase tuition even further, citing inflationary pressures as a primary reason. Highly selective schools, such as Ivy League institutions are the least likely to be affected by a drop in enrollment because of their increased tuition price tags. Needless to say, the sticker shock of earning a college degree is causing many families to think twice about sending their students to college.
Choosing Work Over Books
While some experts still see an economic slowdown on the horizon, the job market is still strong enough that some students are choosing to earn rather than learn, at least for the time being. Some college students are taking fewer credit hours so they can work more, and others are deciding to leave their coursework behind so they can devote their time to their jobs. In fact, a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that the number of undergraduates currently enrolled is down 6.6% from two years ago– evidence that more young people are choosing to work. 31% of the students polled for the same report specifically cited the strong job market as one of the reasons that they do not plan on finishing school and want to look for a job instead.
One of the disadvantages of this decision is the fact that studies have shown that college graduates will earn nearly $1 million over the course of their careers. For students who decide to drop out of college or forgo college altogether to work, the loss of potential earnings and to some degree, career advancement limitations, could be significant.
Career and Technical Education Take Shape
Once known as vocational training, CTE programs are preparing high school students for high-paying jobs around the country. What used to look like home economics or ‘auto shop’ class, has evolved into a more specialized and sophisticated tool for education reform. Nearly 8.3 million students participated in a CTE program in 2020-2021, up from 7.5 million the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
CTE courses range from culinary arts to landscape design and prepare students for high-earning jobs straight out of high school, as well as having the added benefit of boosting graduation rates. In many school districts, these programs partner with local industries to align their course offerings with current labor market needs. Some of these programs even offer a free Associate’s degree, giving students an opportunity to complete the final two years and earn a Bachelor’s degree, if they choose to do so at a later date.
As disruptive as COVID was for students, it helped bring to light the fact that there are other options for young people who might not be quite ready for college or simply rather take some time to work and decide what they want their future to look like.
Read more about education and college students on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from college students. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our college student panel, as well as our other specialty panels, here.
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:
Read more about consumer trends on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers. Our online panels are made up of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty online panels here.
February 27, 2023
The online survey industry is a flourishing market. That’s not surprising due to the fecund waters of information that is the internet, regularly dipped into by businesses and academics alike as part of their market research methods. Like many aspects on the web, employing an online panel is alluring because of its effortless aspects.
Effortless is not always good in cyberspace, though. Oceans of information don’t necessarily create tributaries of accurate figures. To become truly survey savvy, it’s important to understand some myths that can hamper online survey projects. With these in mind, the quality of research can rise above the surf of diluted data.
1. Online panels are just waiting around to send surveys. Online survey providers aren’t storing respondents’ data like the Architect in The Matrix. Sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turks do house millions of respondents ready to take surveys; yet these are teeming with what is known as river sample (the Mos Eisley of general population sampling, although not really a hive of scum and villainy). In reality, it takes energy, resources, and continual project management to maintain online panels of good quality.
What this means: Be patient before and during an online survey project—especially if you are asking for a specialized sample with a low incidence—like (Irish Na’vi who smoke Montecristos).
2. The more questions you ask, the better data you’ll get. This seems (almost) logical. Many companies seem eager to bloat their questionnaire template for their research project. However, we demonstrated the opposite in a previous blog. Research indicates that shorter questionnaires result in superior data. Byzantine and long questionnaires instill what is known as “respondent fatigue.” As the New York Times reported, respondent fatigue that has caused “declining response rates over the last decade.”
What this means: Keep it short and sweet like a tweet. Keep in mind that any survey over 20 minutes is asking for Mos Eisley-type results.
3. Survey results come back in quickly. Sure, this is the internet age, where even breaking news is dated after reading the headline. However, respondents are still flesh and blood people with their own lives (probably spent online in other avenues). Not only do online panelists have to be recruited and engaged, but they also have to be incentivized and called to action. Additionally, results have to be analyzed carefully. The best enterprise software is still beholden to the gateways of internet providers (like that speed-demon AOL!). In other words, it’s a bit more than putting up a Facebook post and waiting for ‘likes’ to rain down like batteries at a Philadelphia Eagles game.
What this means: Beyond being patient, you know something IS actually fishy if results arrive too quickly—as an average project typically takes 3-7 days. Then it’s time to call your online survey provider, and get close to accusing them of being a hive of scum and villainy.
Incentives are not that necessary because of shared interest. Some would call this cheap thinking. It is. It just doesn’t work that way. For example, our company specializes in veterinarian panels. These good folk are physicians who work very hard. For a veterinarian to leverage time to sit through a 30-minute survey takes quite a bit of labor and compensation. Like any other sample, the smaller the reward the larger the risk of apathy. Lastly, many online providers understand this crucial aspect of incentives: “Promised incentives are not as effective as enclosed incentives. Numerous studies demonstrate that postpaid incentives have no impact on response rates.”
What this means: Online survey providers are well-aware of how to incentivize their panels, and many will do so before the project is live if it’s a specialized audience. For those Irish Na’vi who smoke Montecristos, expect a steep price due to the incentive alone, but know you will be rewarded with the data you need.
People are patient taking online surveys. This should be an obvious myth to dispel, since we are talking about the internet: the Nirvana of short-attention-span. In real life, people are busier than ever, continually bombarded by other information, and are just not going to be passionate about your research. This may sound callous, but an honest approach goes a long way for that empathy to conduct successful online research.
What this means: Short questionnaires, patience on your part, expected incentives…and online surveys can actually become wealthy avenues of communication and even qualitative market research.
Dispelling these myths is also extremely important because of the future of online surveys: mobile technology.
As a recent white paper on Research stated:
“Mobile growth in online surveys is mirroring overall growth in mobile access to the internet with survey starts on mobile and tablets rising from less than 10% of survey starts in 2011 to more than 25% of survey starts in 2014 according to 2014 Trends Report: Mobile Participation in Online Surveys.”
There are certainly disadvantages of mobile surveys, as we’ve discussed in past publications. Regardless, in the online world, screens are getting smaller, space is getting tighter, and time is getting shorter. With the right approach and understanding of these myths, market researchers can become survey savvy and come out of those internet waters with refreshing results for their research.
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.
Read more about consumer trends on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from veterinarians and pet owners. Our online panels are made up of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty online panels here.
February 23, 2023
It’s still early in the year, but we can probably already list conversational AI, especially ChatGPT, as one of the buzziest topics of 2023 so far. ChatGPT, a model of GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) has become one of the most popular apps, with 13 million people downloading the app in January 2023 alone. Among other capabilities, these generative models can emulate human conversations and even mimic the writings of long-dead historical figures.
While there is worry about what ChatGPT will mean for students trying to cut corners on their coursework and how this technology will affect white-collar jobs, brands are also figuring out how this conversational AI can be put to work in their daily operations. More specifically, how can ChatGPT be applied to customer service operations, such as call centers, self-service, and other customer engagement needs?
Adapting ChatGPT to Business Operations
In order for AI to be ready for adoption by businesses across the board, it will have to evolve past beyond just being able to ‘talk’ about business-related topics in general terms. To be effective, this technology needs to be fully versed in how businesses operate– what terms are used, the context in which to use them, and understand how those terms drive decisions within organizations.
AI might be exciting to experiment with and is promising in the possibilities for its applications, but it isn’t an all-encompassing solution for customer service yet. Because of the pre-training aspect of ChatGPT, it can only process and work with whatever basic information it has been programmed with. There isn’t much allowance for nuance, which is important where customer service and customer experience are concerned. The technology will be able to generate sentences and explanations that are general in nature and maybe even address the needs of some customers, but it may seem largely incomplete in comparison to an interaction with a human agent.
AI technology can easily make conversation, but it is not able to deliver accurate information that is specific to a brand’s company when it is tasked with handling a more complex business interaction. And it will not be trained to deal with the specifics of any individual business, nor would it be able to answer questions related to products and services such as customer warranty claims. A situation where the wrong information is given to a customer or is received incorrectly could lead to a disastrous result, such as money being deposited into the wrong account, for instance. In a circumstance like that, customers will likely not be more forgiving because it was a chatbot that made the mistake and not a live agent.
5 Benefits of Using AI and ChatGPT for Customer Service
As the future of ChatGPT and chatbots continues to evolve, this technology will play an increasingly important role in in how companies interact with and serve their customers. But it will also be important for brands to be thoughtful in how they navigate the challenges and limitations of the use of chatbots in customer service.
Read more about the latest tech trends on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from tech 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.
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.
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.
Read more about branding and marketing 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.