July 21, 2014

Technology And Consumer Behavior

Last week I gave a talk at a national real estate conference. What do I know about real estate? As I told the conference, the only real estate transaction I ever made a nickel on was when my house burned down. 

Putting the talk together, however, gave me an opportunity to clarify some thoughts I've had about the relationship between technology and consumer behavior. Here's an edited excerpt from the talk:

Technology has changed our lives. It has changed the way we live, the way we do business… it has brought us new and useful tools for our companies, and it has simplified a lot of our daunting tasks.

But there is an untold story of the digital age. It is the remarkable degree to which consumer behavior has remained stable in light of a revolution in technology, communication, and media.

Technology has had an enormous impact on our industries and our companies. And we naturally assume that it has had a similar impact on consumer behavior. I'm not so sure. Just because technology has changed what we do so much, doesn't mean it has changed what they do so much.

Marketers are resolutely attached to the belief that new technology invariably leads to large-scale disruptions in consumer behavior. My purpose this morning is to present you with a different point of view. 

In addition to my advertising career, I also spent a few years as a science teacher, and one year as a special assistant to the Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Being around science practitioners gave me a healthy repect for the difference between a fact and an opinion. So for this talk we are going to dispense with the immoderate opinions and assertions of many in my industry, and talk about facts.

Here are 7 marketing and media facts you may find interesting:
1. E-commerce in the US accounted for only 6% percent of total retail sales in the 1st quarter of this year. 94% of retail activity is still done in a store.

2. Contrary to the confident predictions of all our media experts, over the past few years TV viewing has reached its highest point in history.

3. The average American spends over 7 times as much time watching TV as she does on line.

4. Only 8% of video viewing is playback from a video recorder. 92% of TV viewing is done live.

5. Since 2011, when mobile devices like tablets and smart phone took off, the media device that has suffered the worst decline is not TV or radio, it is the personal computer. In fact, between 2011 and 2013 time spent online with personal computers dropped at 7 times the rate of TV.

6. Notwithstanding all the hype about mobile commerce, in 2013 commerce on a smart phone accounted for less than ¼ of 1% of total retail activity.

7. Despite all the hyperventilating about the web replacing television, 97% of all video viewing is still done on a TV. Only 3% is done online.
So what are we to make of these facts?

The conclusion I have drawn — one that I have come to often in my career — is that marketers almost always overestimate consumers' appetite for new things, and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior. 
And now for the sales pitch. If you're having a sales meeting, conference, or other business event, and you need some speakers that won't bore the shit out of your attendees with the same old bullshit, Type A can help. Here are some "reviews" from last week's talk:
If you want info about having Type A at your event, contact us here. Thanks.

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