Empathica Insights Survey: One in Four Consumers Have Recommended a Retailer Based on Their Use of New Technology

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel survey shows that while the majority of consumers have yet to use new in-store and online retail technology, 40% of those who have cite that they recommended the retailer as a direct result.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – January 10, 2011 – Empathica Inc., a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to more than 200 of the world’s most respected brands, today announced the results of its 2010 Winter Consumer Insights Panel survey that polled nearly 11,000 North Americans.

To better assess how brands and consumers are interacting today, Empathica questioned survey participants about their use of retail technologies within Marketing (mobile coupons, online product research), In-Store Experience Enhancements (assisting personalized selection) and Checkout Conveniences (self-checkout, e-receipts). When asked if they had gone into a store within the last year and experienced any of these new technologies, only 39% of respondents said that they had. According to the survey, men were more likely to try a new retail technology (43%) than were women (34%), yet it was fairly consistent across age groups.

Of those who have tried a new retail technology, 40% indicate that they recommended that retailer to friends and family as a direct result of trying the technology. Of those who said they had not experienced a new technology, 18% still recommended the brand based on noting that the technology was offered.

The technologies that most consumers have tried include: self-checkout (86.3%), online shopping (80.4%) and price check scanners (75.2%), while others like virtual fitting rooms, barcode tags, and buttons to request fitting room service, were less commonly used. Mobile phone features were used by 44% of consumers within the past year.

On an industry level, 78% of consumers believe the supermarket and grocery store industry currently has the best implementation of technology in a way that enhances their experience with the brand. Furniture and housewares stores were perceived to have the least successful adoption of technology to improve the customer experience.

“While some retail technology is still relatively new, consumers are starting to express a willingness to use it in a strategic way that enhances their shopping experience,” said Gary Edwards, EVP of Client Services at Empathica. “Check-out technologies that improve convenience have clearly been embraced by consumers compared to pure in-store experience enhancements. Nonetheless, no matter what the store technology, when it is adopted by consumers there appears to be a positive word of mouth marketing benefit to brands.”

Additionally, a third of survey respondents indicated that in-store technology makes their shopping experience more productive, facilitating an easier purchase decision. One in four also said it makes shopping more enjoyable.

Mobile Functionality
When asked specifically about mobile phone feature requests that would aid them in shopping, 44% of consumers replied that receiving mobile coupons prior to shopping, as well as price/feature comparisons, would be most beneficial. Other features like determining product availability, self-service options and product ordering, were of lower priority. Consumers were decisive in their preference for receiving notification of upcoming sales or promotions, with 80% citing email as their favored channel.

Twenty-one percent of survey respondents did indicate a willingness to allow selected companies to track their in-store location using their mobile device in order to access additional coupons, sales promotions, or product suggestions. However, consumer willingness dropped nearly eight percentage points when mobile tracking took place outside of the store.

“It’s clear that the ‘customer is king’ concept applies to adoption of technology,” added Edwards. “While a majority wants to be able to track deals and coupons from retailers, only a small minority would allow retailers to track them even if it’s positioned as in the consumers’ best interest. It’s a new twist on the 80/20 rule, where 80% say I’ll track you, while only 20% say you can track me. Clearly, privacy and freedom from harassment are paramount in many consumers’ minds.”

For more information about the results of the latest Empathica Consumer Insights Panel survey, visit www.empathica.com/insights/.

About the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel: 
The Empathica Consumer Insights serves as an authoritative voice on consumer based economic indicators; the retail, financial services and restaurant industries; consumer shopping intentions and customer satisfaction as reported by thousands of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Results from Empathica’s Consumer Insights, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s Consumer Insights’ team, are published on a quarterly basis. The results are based on outbound Internet surveys with Empathica’s growing Insights Panel, derived from more than 30 million consumer surveys per year. Results have been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S. and in Canada, including Region, Gender, Age and Income.

Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Q4 2010, Issue 1.

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