Brand and marketing research

This month: we look at the impending explosion of tablet PCs, the continuing rise of online shopping, and which country leads the world in watching videos on their smartphones.

A European study has found that the online buzz about brands differs in tone and content depending on the platform. After tracking the real-time Instant Messenger, Facebook and Hotmail conversations of 600 people from the UK, France and Spain for a week, Microsoft Advertising discovered that Instant Messenger was used for the most conversations about buying a product. Other findings included Hotmail being used most often to discuss research-led purchases, while almost 50 per cent more conversations on Facebook were immediately followed by a purchase.

More worryingly, a global study of senior executives has found that almost half of businesses across the world don't understand how to manage and derive value from customer feedback generated by social media. The study, conducted by business analytics experts SAS and the Economist Intelligence Unit, also found that just six per cent of companies track the size of their customers' social networks and only two per cent track the number of ‘retweets' referencing their company.

Nearly half of consumers believe detailed product information is a critical factor of an ecommerce website in driving them to make a purchase. The report by data management company Stibo Systems also found that consumers are crying out for more detailed product information, with 30 per cent feel that more detailed product information is the best way to improve online shopping websites.

According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, increasing numbers of UK shoppers are using the internet to research and buy products, including turning directly to manufacturers rather than going via retailers. The survey of over 1,000 adults suggested that nearly 20 per cent currently spend almost half their disposable income on the web, and a further 14 per cent buy online more than once every week - an increase of 10 per cent in the past two years.

Moving onto online ads, a joint initiative from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Firefly Millward Brown has concluded that effective web marketing "must benefit users." The researchers questioned consumers in Brazil, China, the UK and the US, and found that ads offering a "tangible benefit" for users are acceptable, as are ads that are "different, fun, engaging and/or offer something extra."

Good news for Apple comes from a report by US research firm Gartner, who say that the iPad will maintain its position as market leader in the tablet PC sector. The report suggests that global tablet sales will grow from 15m in 2010 to 70m in 2011, with the iPad predicted to sell 48m units (69 per cent market share) in 2011.

According to research from Accenture, Italians are the world leaders in viewing web video on their smartphones, with 76 per cent watching video while on the go. Across the seven nations covered by the survey - the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy and Spain - the average was 64 per cent. Unsurprisingly, TV remains the most popular global media channel, but with 81 per cent of consumers saying they multi-task while watching, there's a definite global shift away from passive viewership.

If you're an avid online shopper, it should come as no surprise to learn that Amazon has been named as the company with the most loyal customers in the US. After surveying 6,000 adults about 143 major corporations spanning 12 sectors, the Temkin Group consultancy found that 68 per cent rated their loyalty to the online retailer as either ‘strong' or ‘very strong'.

Finally, eDigitalResearch have conducted the first ever benchmark study for apps, rating the 50 most popular apps for usability and customer journey. Home service apps such as British Gas and O2 performed particularly well, but the highest rated app was for Sky Sports News.

3rdMay 2011

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