IBM has labelled 2007 the year of the “Omni consumer”, as buyers were more sceptical and demanding than ever before.
Big Blue’s business think-tank, the Institute for Business Value, surveyed more than 16,900 consumers throughout the year and concluded that consumers flexed their power and control over businesses and institutions in dramatic new ways. Technology has been central to this empowerment, as consumers demand and expect knowledge of products’ impact on individuals, society and the environment.
Research conducted during the year found that 53pc of consumers used the internet to compare features and prices among retailers. Two thirds of teens said they use mobile phones to text friends for input while shopping and a quarter said they surfed the internet for product information from a mobile device while in the store.
Consumers are also more willing to use self-service technology in retail outlets. There was a 50pc growth recorded in the use of self-service technology in 2007 and some 70pc of respondents to an IBM survey said they expected businesses to offer more self-service options.
TV, the traditional media powerhouse, felt the heat from the internet during 2007. Two thirds of global consumers view from between one to four hours of TV per day, versus 60pc who reported the same levels of personal internet usage.
People are more likely to spend more time on the internet than watching TV: 19pc reported spending six hours or more per day web-surfing; just 9pc spent the same amount of time watching TV. Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are leading this market transformation.
Two thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for power sources that emit lower greenhouse gas emissions, IBM discovered during the year.
“Consumers have more control over what, where and when they buy than ever before,” commented Peter J Korsten, vice-president and global leader, IBM Institute of Business Value.
“Looking ahead to 2008, businesses must restore consumer confidence and demonstrate their commitment to transparency. A one-size-fits-all approach is history for those who want to emerge as winners in the minds and wallets of the Omni consumer.”
By Niall Byrne