Tag Archives: Consumer Information

Apple HomePod: Worth the Steep Price Tag?

HomePod

Apple’s HomePod has arrived. On February 9, 2018, the $349 HomePod debuted in the US, UK and Australia. Apple, who is used to being the first on the technology scene, is the late-comer to the voice assistant speaker market, launching three years after Amazon’s Echo.  And as the first consumer reviews come streaming in, whether it was worth the wait is up for debate.

While Apple CEO Tim Cook insists the HomePod isn’t competing with those other voice activated speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos One), it’s hard for consumers not to compare them. According to Cook, the speaker is meant to fill the void in the market of a quality audio experience. And it seems to do that well; with an Apple A8 chip, a large woofer (a loudspeaker designed to reproduce low frequencies) and seven tweeters, by all reports, the HomePod does provide a good home music speaker.

Now for it’s drawbacks. First, and perhaps most importantly for consumers, is it’s price. At $349, it’s the most expensive voice activated speaker on the market—by far. Amazon Echo costs $180, Google Home is $129, and a Sonos speaker is $199. Are consumers willing to pay almost double for the HomePod? Apple’s argument is that the HomePod is worth the cost because it combines smart features and great sound, but the jury is still out. Second, the only music service supported by the HomePod is Apple Music. You can rig it to work with Pandora or Spotify, but it won’t respond to voice-based commands to manage those services. Third, —and a big selling point for the other voice activated devices on the market—is the inability to order pizza, hail an Uber, or even make a phone call.

According to a recent study conducted by QuestionPro Audience, 54% of smart speaker users are concerned about security and privacy. iPhone Siri has the capability to understand only the owner of the phone, but that technology was not transferred to the HomePod. HomePod Siri will respond to anyone who speaks to it, which may cause potential privacy issues if someone else asks to listen to the owner’s messages. On the other hand, both Amazon and Google store your audio data for a period of time, but the HomePod anonymizes your data, so it cannot be traced back to your device.

Consensus: the HomePod definitely isn’t for everyone, but for those who are already tied into the Apple ecosystem, and are looking for a great sound system to play Apple Music, the HomePod won’t disappoint.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 22 million active respondents, who are strategically recruited to participate in quantitative research and live discussions. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research. With industry knowledge and innovative tools, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. Contact us for your next research project.

Blockchain: 4 Ways it Benefits Consumers

Blockchain, a digital record of all activity related to a product or service, is predicted to change retail in the same way online shopping did. The technology was originally designed for digital currency like bitcoin, and because of its effectiveness, found its way into other areas of the digital world. The beauty of blockchain is that it is shared and doesn’t sit in one database for hackers to access. According to a study conducted by HSBC, 59% of consumers said they’d never heard of blockchain technology, and 80% of those who had heard of it didn’t understand what it is. Never fear—we’re going to break it down for you while we explore 4 ways consumers will benefit from Blockchain.

PRODUCT AUTHENTICATION: Counterfeit goods have plagued manufacturers and consumers alike; pharmaceutical companies lose around $200 billion/year due to counterfeit drugs, and nearly 1,400 adverse reactions related to counterfeit drugs have been reported since 2014. Blockchain’s digital ledger record creates a chain-of-custody log that tracks every step of the supply chain process. The company can then provide the consumer with a complete product history, from production line to their purchase, therefore providing certainty in its authenticity. Additionally, goods can be certified, which means that stolen merchandise can be more easily reported.

SUPPLY CHAIN VISIBILITY: Brand transparency, trust, and ethics are imperative for today’s consumers. In fact, according to one study, complete brand transparency can produce lifelong customers.  Additionally, many consumers make purchasing decisions based on the environmental and social responsibility of a company. Blockchain provides a picture of the supply chain network, in real time, and allows producers to track raw materials from the moment they enter the supply chain until the finished product ships to the consumer.  

PRODUCT TRANSPARENCY: A recent study shows that 54% of consumers want as much information about their products as possible,from where their meat is raised to conditions at the factory where their clothes are sewn. Blockchain allows consumers to gain the transparency they need in their purchases. Consumers can verify the entire life-cycle of a product, and companies have no way to manipulate it.

WARRANTY MANAGEMENT: Blockchain takes the hassle out of warranty management for both the consumer and manufacturer. By providing consumer goods companies with a record of every item on which a warranty has been offered, it can even predict the potential for future costs. Blockchain provides consumers with a simple way to track, maintain, transfer, and make claims on their warranties.

 

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 22 million active respondents, who are strategically recruited to participate in quantitative research and live discussions. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research. With industry knowledge and innovative tools, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. Contact us for your next research project.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing eCommerce

The future is here, and the future is artificial intelligence. A technology that once sounded futuristic is now here, and smart businesses have realized it’s not an optional tool in this tech-crazed climate, and begun implementing AI in order to create the easiest possible user experience. Analysts predict that by 2020, 85% of a consumer’s relationship with a business will be managed without interacting with a human. The internet provides consumers with an unprecedented amount of information and options, but it also makes conversions harder for businesses, due to abundant options and price matching. With AI, businesses can use algorithms to gain insight into the wants and needs of the consumer.

PERSONALIZED MARKETING Astute companies know consumers don’t want to feel marketed to, and each interaction with the customer needs to be purposeful, yet subtle. By using AI, eCommerce sites are able to create personalized online experiences and recommend products uniquely suited to each shopper. Personalized marketing using AI has proven successful for companies like Amazon and Netflix, who were early adopters of the technology. Amazon saw a 29% increase in sales when they started recommending products to its customers, and when Netflix created a model to predict its customers might enjoy, those recommendations won 75% of the time.

VISUAL SEARCH Another tactic being used by eCommerce sites is visual search, a technology that uses AI to analyze a photo that the shopper submits. Previously, customers have used a text search to look for their desired object. Today, however, many companies are utilizing visual search to find products that match the shopper’s submitted image. Neiman Marcus is one company who is having great success using this technology. By allowing app users to take photos of objects in the real world, they are then shown similar items in the Neiman Marcus catalog.

VOICE SEARCH Voice search uses AI to allow shoppers to search for items using speech. A study by comScore predicts that by 2020 at least 50% of all web searches will be done by voice command. Voice-controlled assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home allow users to make online purchases, and use predictive retail to anticipate purchases. A partnership between Google and Walmart allows Google Assistant to use your purchase history to remind you to reorder items like toothpaste, then places the order through Walmart.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research.

Amazon HQ2: What It Means For the Chosen City

After months of waiting, and proposals from 238 cities, Amazon has announced their short list of potential cities for its second headquarters (HQ2). The company had a few prerequisites: a metropolitan area with a population of greater than one million and the ability to attract and keep strong technical talent. The list of finalists surprised many, as it included locations that aren’t thought to be technology havens, such as Columbus and Indianapolis, and rejected applications from Detroit, Phoenix, and San Diego.

The e-commerce giant decided it needed a second location for its headquarters because it is rapidly outgrowing its office in Seattle, where more than 40,000 people are employed by Amazon. In a company press release announcing Amazon HQ2, Amazon spoke about plans to invest over $5 billion in construction, and create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. It’s estimated that Amazon’s investments in Seattle from 2010-2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy.

While the obvious upside to being named Amazon HQ2 is an influx of money to the chosen city’s economy, detractors have come out, predicting a poorer quality of life. A blogger who has lived in Seattle for 21 years and seen both the positive and negative impacts of Amazon’s residency in downtown Seattle, wrote an article warning of probable issues. One such issue: an influx of commuters can clog even the best-designed infrastructure. Seattle is working to build a mass transit system that can withstand the rapidly growing population, but the city chosen for HQ2 should be prepared for lots of construction and traffic.

Another concern? Housing prices. High demand and high-paying jobs plus low inventory create an increasingly competitive housing market. According to Market Watch, home prices in Seattle have increased by 83% and rent prices by 47% over the past seven years since Amazon first established their presence. Researchers at Apartment List, who studied the 15 metro areas competing for HQ2, predict the Amazon effect alone will add an average of 2% to rental costs. In 2017, homes in one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods went for a median price of more than $1 million. The non-Amazon residents who can’t afford the increasing prices will be forced out, and pushed into the outer suburbs.

Regardless of the potential downsides, many cities feel the good outweigh the bad, and will be petitioning for Amazon to choose them. Amazon has the opportunity to directly impact one U.S. city’s economy in a way that has not been seen before. The next phase of the process will include Amazon representatives communicating directly with the final cities, with the winner being chosen later this year.

Below is the list of finalists:

Atlanta, Georgia
Austin, Texas
Boston, Massachusetts
Chicago, Illinois
Columbus, Ohio
Dallas, Texas
Denver, Colorado
Indianapolis, Indiana
Los Angeles, California
Miami, Florida
Montgomery County, Maryland
Nashville, Tennessee
Newark, New Jersey
New York City, New York
Northern Virginia, Virginia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Raleigh, North Carolina
Toronto, Ontario
Washington, D.C.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 22 million active respondents, including homeowner panelists, who are strategically recruited to participate in quantitative research and live discussions. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients.