Consumers’ demand for simplicity will continue to shape the winners in Technology, Media & Telecoms – but will the price become too high for some? Maru/edr’s Research Director and TMT industry expert, Anna Ritchie, explores what ‘simplicity’ will look like in 2017 and how significant this could be for certain brands.
CES has come and gone for another year but what it showed was that we’re still in the middle of a technological revolution. In a real-time social-media analysis we ran over the course of the event, the results showed that smart technology was tweeted about more than three times more frequently than anything else.
However, as history has often proved – not all new technologies are successful. Take for example 3D televisions; that were set to revolutionise domestic entertainment until the uncomfortable headgear and a lack of content saw the development fail to catch on. As a result, they were essential non-existent at this year’s show.
Digital consumption has become such a pervasive element of our daily lives that there has been a shift – underpinning these rapid technological developments – to ensure people are afforded a streamlined and simple user experience. But how will this manifest itself in the developments we’re set to see this year?
Automatic Speech Recognition will become mainstream
Developments that make things easier for consumers will nearly always find an audience. Whilst many new applications of Artificial Intelligence are being developed, Automatic Speech Recognition is one of the few predicted to hit the mainstream this year.
The ability to easily control heating, lights and music through voice alone, speaks directly to the need to keep things simple. However, this is only true if it works well for everyone.
You don’t want a situation like the Burnistoun skit where the two Scots get stuck in a voice-activated lift that can’t understand their accent.
The demand for ease and simplicity will ensure that developments, like speech recognition, are here to stay and with them a further rise in consumer expectations about what a good experience looks and feels like – putting pressure on those companies that continue to provide user interfaces that are difficult to use.
Messaging apps will have increasing power and influence
78% of adults now access the internet daily and 66% have accessed ‘on the go’ via a mobile phone3. There is a feeling amongst smartphone users that the process of downloading applications for every brand they use is too time-consuming. It takes up valuable space that could be used for storing more personal data like photos and music. Even the process of moving in and out of apps inhibits the act of casually browsing, further discouraging downloads.
This consumer demand for ease and simplicity means that it is currently more popular to use a web browser and mobile site than to download a brand-specific app and this is pushing brands to get themselves space inside popular social media apps e.g. Facebook.
The Drum published a recent article looking at how films will be marketed in 2017. Film marketing expert, Chris Thilk, highlighted that there has been – and will continue to be – less emphasis on an owned website. This is in favour of “using it [Facebook] and other social platforms purely as a broadcast outlet.”
“Why pour money into website design when programming content on Facebook doesn’t cost nearly as much.”
This trend is not just limited to film and is enabling social media providers to gain a firmer grasp on the end-user relationship creating new challenges for Media brands.
This occurs mainly within social networking apps – like Facebook and Instagram – defined by their function of sharing status updates, images and other content. However, with the YoY growth of social messaging – which has remained ahead of standard social networking apps, in terms of active users, since 2011 – we’re set to see apps like WhatsApp, FB Messenger and WeChat have increasing influence.
Pressure will rise for unbundled services that offer greater value
In the constant drive for companies to grow value, we have seen price inflation across all the main Telecoms brands for their bundled services that offer a simple way for consumers to access high-quality TV, broadband, phone and mobile. Since the regulation change late last year, they are now also obliged to include their phone line rental charges in their headline price, raising awareness of the total bundle price.
At the same time consumers – fuelled by increasing access to cheaper fibre technologies and 4G – are choosing to stream video through OTT services that deliver film and TV content with – but also frequently without – subscription
Statistics show that, on average, we have access to 194 subscription and free-to-view channels and yet consumers on average only regularly view 18. Further investigation reveals that in the UK, of the 72 programs that make up the 1000 most-viewed broadcasts of 2016, only one – Sky Atlantic’s Game of Thrones – is pay-only.
Whilst the thirst for unique, high-quality content in the UK does not show any signs of abating and the idea of a large number of TV channels continues to be appealing, there are clear signs that the continued price inflation is forcing consumers to question the price they are paying.
As 2017 begins there is growing pressure on pay-TV providers to deliver more unbundled services that allow greater personalisation and value for those consumers who believe the price of convenience is no longer worth paying for.
The need for simplicity is universal
Interestingly, we are seeing the same consumer sentiment across multiple industries. In retail, ease and functionality have been identified as the key components of a great customer experience whilst in the financial services sector, the core needs are for trust, sincerity and simplicity.
As the Technology, Media and Telecomms. sector continues to grow and consumers are faced with an explosion of choice, it will be the providers and new technologies that keep things simple for consumers and that truly understand what they want and how they want it who will win.
Anna Ritchie is a Research Director at Maru/edr – working on Voice of the Customer solutions across a number of key industries whilst specializing in technology, media & telecoms.