Consumers around the world are changing how they seek and share information, according to new research that Survey Sampling International (SSI) conducted among adults in the US, UK, France, Spain and Japan. Media multi-tasking — such as simultaneously searching Web sites, emailing and talking to someone — is prevalent in all countries, particularly among younger consumers. For example, in the US, 60% of 18 – 34 year olds report talking to someone while texting, compared to just 24% of those 35 or older.
“Younger people consider it the norm to divide their attention among multiple media. They don’t even think of it as multi-tasking but just as their regular way of communicating,” says Mark Hardy, SSI’s Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director, North America. “At SSI, we started to see this trend a few years ago, when focus groups with panel members revealed they often surfed the Web or watched TV while taking surveys. Our latest research shows this trend is growing, posing both complications and opportunities for market researchers.
“We now have more ways to reach people — but their focus is often splintered. Researchers will need to re-think how to succeed in this fragmented environment. For example, they may choose to add questions about people’s surroundings or other activities into surveys.”
Adding to the complexity is the fact that consumers worldwide also prefer to be on the move — so may take surveys anywhere, from the mall to the train to their homes. In Japan, more consumers own laptops (73%) than desktops (54%). In the UK and Spain, laptops have caught up with desktops. Only in the US and France do more people still own desktops.
When focusing on those under 30, however, laptops are replacing desktops worldwide. For instance, in the US, 80% of 18 – 24 year olds own laptops while just 67% own desktops. The gap is even larger in Japan, where 80% of younger consumers own laptops compared to 52% who own desktops.
The rise in cell phone usage also underscores the trend toward mobility. In every country studied, more than 70% of participants own cell phones — and that number exceeds 80% in France, Spain and Japan. Even more telling, in all countries but France, more people own cell phones than landline phones–and that gap is particularly dramatic among 18 – 24 year olds.
Social Media Usage Grows, but Social Networks Are Not One Monolithic Block
Social media are widely used in all countries. In the UK, US, France and Spain, about half of study respondents used social media within the last week, with younger consumers the most avid users. Japan shows a different profile, with less social networking and more blogging. For example, 24% of Japanese respondents have their own blogging space compared to just 4% – 7% in other countries.
“When looking at the rise in social networks, it’s important to remember they are not one block,” according to Hardy. “There are real differences in who uses them. For example, 18 – 24 year olds use Facebook and Twitter less — and LinkedIn significantly less — than older consumers. In contrast, they are much heavier users of MySpace and personal blogs.”
Phone Is Still the Primary Way to Connect, though Texting Is Gaining Ground
Around the world, phone remains the primary way people stay in touch. In Japan, however, texting is gaining ground to become as important as phone.
Even among 18 – 24 year olds, phone is the top way people connect. Among younger consumers, however, texting and social networking make up a significantly larger portion of the communications mix than among older consumers. In Japan, texting actually has overtaken phone among 18 – 24 year olds.
TV Remains the Top News Source, Except in Japan — though Internet Is Perceived as Most Valuable
In all countries but Japan, TV is still the most used news source, with Internet the second most popular. In Japan, Internet has captured first place. Across all regions, though TV remains the primary source, Internet is perceived as most valuable.
“From Internet usage to texting to laptop ownership, Japan is in front of the curve,” says Hardy. “As researchers, we need to ask ourselves if Japan represents the new norm — and, if so, how do we prepare for this new world? Clearly, the old paradigm of sending email invitations to surveys is not going to sustain research into the future. We need new tools, like SSI Dynamix(TM), our new dynamic sampling platform that links to all sources — panels, Web sites, social media, affiliate partnerships and more — to transform the whole Internet into the panel.”
Research Highlights Available via On Demand Webinar
Highlights of SSI’s new research are available through a new on demand Webinar, Understanding and Engaging the New Consumer: Motivating Your “Typical” Targets in an Atypical World. The Webinar can be accessed free at www.surveysampling.com.