Sweeping Technological Changes Around the Globe

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
December 13, 2011 /

Consumers around the world are embracing new technology at a rapid pace, a fact that is changing lifestyles and the commercial landscape around the globe, according to KPMG’s latest Consumer & Convergence Report.

The report entitled “The Converged Lifestyle” reveals that consumers today have more choice in devices than ever before and that this choice increasingly serves one purpose: to enable consumers to get what they want, when they want it and where they want it.

UK consumers and businesses are ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new technologies as online shopping and the use of social media are more widespread in the UK than in other parts of the globe. However, UK consumers are also more price conscious when it comes to choosing new devices and services, and appear more concerned about privacy and security.

Retailers: Online shopping en vogue but smartphones “must have” accessory when shopping at retail outlets

Across most categories of goods, the majority of respondents reported a preference to purchase items online rather than at a physical outlet. In the UK 74% percent of consumers said they were more likely to buy flights and vacations online (globally 70%), 77% prefer to buy CDs, DVDs, books and video games online (65% globally).

However, the majority of respondents said they prefer to purchase luxury goods in store and four in ten consumers still seem to shun online grocery shopping. These trends are particularly evident in the Americas where more than three quarters of respondents said they would book a flight online, but only 21 percent said they were more likely to buy groceries online.

The survey reveals the extent to which smartphones and tablets are changing shopping behaviour. When shopping at retail outlets, 45% of UK respondents said they now use their mobile devices to locate the nearest store, 32% to research products and services, 30% for online coupons and one in 5 (19%) scan in barcodes to for product information. Globally 41% research products & services and almost a quarter pay with their mobile devices.

When buying products or services the majority of customers in the UK and globally consult feedback and ratings pages on the internet or get information on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Monitoring and managing third party information sources will therefore be a key element of any digital sales strategy.

Advertisers: Consumers increasingly willing to be tracked by advertisers

One of the most surprising trends is that consumers are increasingly willing to allow their online usage pattern and personal profile information to be tracked by advertisers, if it results in lower cost or free content. Almost half of respondents in the UK (49%) said they are ready for such a ‘trade off’, globally even 62% said they were willing to be tracked by advertisers. This provides a significant revenue opportunity for businesses if they can manage and then monetise their customers’ dataset.

Mobile banking on the rise but concerns over security and privacy

When it comes to mobile banking, consumers in the UK are more reluctant than those in other parts of the world. Only 27% said they had used some form of mobile banking in the past six months (globally 52%, an increase from around 40 percent in 2010 and just under 20 percent in 2008). Online payment providers have been making headway in many markets; PayPal is a more preferred method of online payment than credit cards for consumers in Europe and the Middle East.

However, there are widespread concerns over security and privacy, a fact that still is a key barrier to the adoption of new technology. When using a mobile phone the majority of respondents in the UK said they were concerned, either over the potential for credit card information to be intercepted by an unauthorized party (66%) or the threat of unauthorized parties accessing personally identifiable information (62%).

The cloud takes shape

Worldwide consumers increasingly store parts of their personal information such as e-mails, documents or photos on the web. Consumers in the UK are more reluctant to embrace the cloud with just over half (53%) of respondents saying they store personal data on the web (globally 65%). Worldwide 51% said they were concerned about their ability to retrieve their data from online services; nearly two thirds of consumers suggest that they would see value in being able to access their medical information through mobile devices.

Mobile operators: price still key when choosing mobile phone

When selecting a mobile operator, UK consumers are most influenced by the operator’s coverage (82%, globally 80 percent), quality of customer service (69%, globally 78 percent) and price (88%, globally 77%), rather than the availability of a specific device (54 percent) or exclusive content.

88 percent of respondents in the UK and worldwide reported downloading an app to their mobile but there is widespread reluctance to pay for them with 41 percent saying they did not pay for any of them (38% in the UK) and 39 percent (22% in the UK) paying for only around one in four of their downloads.

Almost half of all respondents cited a very high level of concern regarding security (48 percent) and privacy (48 percent).


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