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Insight for SMEs: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Tap into Ecommerce Trends in 2019

2018 was a positive year for SMEs in the ecommerce space, with many businesses seeing exceptional returns.

Compared to their larger counterparts, SMEs truly have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and incorporate the latest consumer trends into their strategy, giving them every chance to grow quickly and capture their target audiences’ attention.

Our latest commerce report outlines trends that are relevant for brands of any size, but offers some especially actionable insights for SMEs. Here are some low-cost strategies consumers want to see in 2019.

1. Make SEO a priority.

Key insight: Search engines are the most popular channel for both brand discovery (37%) and product research (52%).

It’s no secret that having good SEO practices is key for companies of any size, and a study by 1st Choice Marketing shows SEO is the top priority for 35% of UK SMEs in 2019, but our research shows it’s even more important than you might think.

It’s no longer TV ads, social networks or consumer reviews that capture the most attention from consumers at the start of the purchase journey.

Appearing on appropriate search results pages and in top positions is what will most likely ensure consumers find your brand, product or service above others.

This is great news for any company on a tight budget as it means getting your brand in front of the right eyes no longer needs to cost a fortune. Any business looking to incorporate or develop their SEO strategy can start with organic efforts before allocating any spend.

2. Re-think your social media objectives.

Key insight: Over one in three internet users follow their favorite brands on social media, and 25% follow brands they’re thinking of buying from.

We all know social media is playing a more crucial role in the purchase journey – and with 39% of UK SMEs focusing on their social media strategy in 2019 it’s a clear priority.

But with 52% of internet users now using social networks to research products before purchasing, is it being prioritized enough?

Social platforms have become an important brand-consumer touchpoint, with social behaviors now being less focused on sharing personal information and more purpose-driven. This goes hand-in-hand with 15% of internet users saying they want their favorite brands to make them feel cool or trendy.

So how can SMEs tap into the social media behaviors of consumers?

As brands continue to wait for the social commerce revolution to happen, social media is primarily a place to connect with, educate and engage consumers – encouraging them on from the research phase.

But the same strategy doesn’t work for every consumer. In fact, younger consumers look to social media before search engines for information on products, proving the importance of including this information on social channels.

This shows to streamline their strategy and get the most ROI, SMEs need to consult granular data from the consumers themselves to get a clear view of where they should focus their efforts and what their target audience expects from them on what platforms.

3. Look to big purchase drivers.

Key insight: Free delivery is the primary purchase driver across all generations and markets.

Our research shows consumers value free delivery beyond incentives like discounts, easy returns, customer reviews and next-day delivery.

But this doesn’t negate the importance of these purchase drivers.

For example, over half of the online population interact with reviews in some way during the purchase journey, proving it’s crucial for brands of any size to ensure their online presence is a positive one.

This kind of insight can also allow SMEs to allocate their budget where it actually counts.

Since consumers would rather have something delivered for free within a longer delivery window than pay for next-day delivery, businesses can confidently focus on offering free delivery rather than work to improve delivery times.

4. Make mobile payments happen.

Key insight: More than 1 in 3 internet users have made a payment using their mobile phones.

Usage of mobile payments is growing rapidly, from a quarter of the online population in 2016 to more than a third at the end of 2018.

And this phenomenon is happening on a global scale, with the likes of Denmark, South Korea and Kenya all appearing in the list of top countries for mobile payments.

However, the mobile payments services consumers use are most often domestic companies, such as MobilePay in Denmark and M-Pesa in Kenya, rather than one giant brand dominating mobile payments worldwide.

With this trend only set to grow in 2019, SMEs may want to look at their mobile payments strategy and how it will be implemented in the future if it isn’t already.

5. Make your journey multi-device.

Key insight: 41% of consumers use a PC or laptop to purchase products.

At a global level, for all stages of the purchase journey – from researching to buying through
to reviewing – the mobile is now the device of choice, over the PC or laptop.

But despite the rise of mobile commerce, the PC is still popular with some audiences. Internet users over the age of 45 still prefer larger screen devices, which is a major reason why PCs and laptops are still widely used for commerce in Europe and North America.

The PC isn’t going away any time soon. And internet users aren’t exclusively committed to any one device type. If they’re buying on mobile, they’re likely to buy on PC as well, and vice versa.

The large overlap demonstrates how a multi-device approach is crucial for any brand, including SMEs, throughout the entire purchase journey, as consumers can checkout with either device regardless of where their path began.

Becoming multi-device may seem daunting for any small business that isn’t already, but it could be a well-worthy investment. Deeper analysis into the brand’s target audience preferences should give insight into what kind of ROI to expect.

Ecommerce for SMEs in 2019

While many SMEs may feel restrained by smaller budgets and less manpower than larger rivals, insight like this lends them an edge.

Their ability to incorporate new strategies quickly and flexibly is a key strength that will set them apart, but these strategies need to have a solid foundation in fact.

Consumer insights based on granular, behavioral and attitudinal data provides this foundation, and any SME looking for guidance can use them with confidence to ace their ecommerce efforts in 2019.

Insight for Indies: Creating a Data-Driven Strategy that Works for 2019

2019 is full of challenges and opportunities for independent agencies.

Project-based contracts are increasing in popularity, giving indies the chance to win more business, while brands continue to shift core skills and expertise in-house.

In this competitive landscape, it’s crucial to stand out from the crowd.

This means developing a much deeper understanding of the consumers you’re targeting, and shaping a strategy accordingly. Here’s how.

Key challenges facing independent agencies in 2019.

1. Competing against agency networks.

Competition from large agencies is nothing new to indies, but there are more opportunities than ever to stand out and land significant contracts.

The ongoing shift towards project-based contracts is giving indies the chance to catch a brand’s eye when looking to finalize their next project.

Flexibility and the ability to make changes in line with fast-moving consumer trends is where indies have an advantage over bigger players.

Richard Exon, Founder of Joint London, says, “15 years ago, your independent agencies were private versions of the publicly-owned or holding company-owned agencies. Today, all our businesses are different in type, specialism and expertise. Huge diversification means we can compete with holding companies for different clients on different briefs.”

2. Having less resource than key competitors.

Since indie agencies often have less resource available to them than their bigger counterparts, it’s crucial to allocate it where it counts.

Today, you can’t know whether a creative idea will work unless you’ve based it on accurate research that has come directly from the consumers you’re targeting.

Knowing how consumers will respond to a campaign before launch is a sure way to streamline spend and improve ROI.

3. Gaining client trust without a big reputation or rich history.

A long-standing challenge for independent agencies has been competing with the sometimes decades-long history and relationships big agency network can have.

But the attitude towards indies may be changing.

Andrew Roberts, Founder of agency Gravity Thinking, says, “There is a growing confidence in indie agencies from a senior level, those who, rather than seeing smaller agencies as a risk, see them as the opposite of that. They see the potential to a business, the benefit of more agility and access to senior expertise.”

How to meet these challenges head-on.

The answer for independent agencies looking to become more strategically sound in 2019 lies in placing a renewed focus on consumer-centricity.

A truly consumer-centric strategy doesn’t rely solely on educated assumption or past experience, but looks to the consumers themselves for direction and inspiration.

Insight of this kind comes from access to modern data that goes far beyond traditional measurements, allowing users a full overview of consumers’ motivations along with their behaviors and demographic information.

With this kind of deep data at hand, it’s possible to become truly consumer-centric and reap the benefits.

Here’s how to do it.

Steps to nailing a consumer-centric strategy.

1. Look to good quality data.

Agencies of every size know the value of good quality consumer data.

Today, that means data you can trust – research that has been collected using a robust methodology and that goes deep enough to answer your most specific and tailored questions.

Here are just some of the things you can create using deep survey data to support and generate consumer-centric ideas.

  • Tailored consumer insights: Re-contact your target consumers using a single source of extensive survey data to cut to the chase and uncover insights tailored to your brief and objectives.
  • Detailed consumer journey maps: Consumer journey maps provide a detailed overview of the customer experience and the path to purchase. With granular data, you can create highly usable maps that will resonate with clients and strengthen campaigns.
  • Personalized campaigns: Today’s consumers expect personalization – and so do your clients. Use insight that translates a consumer’s behaviors, interests, attitudes and perceptions to tailor your campaigns to the right people, and make your programmatic advertising work as hard as it can.

2. Go from data to insight.

It’s not enough to simply have access to the best data available – you have to know what to do with it.

A good insight reveals something unique about your audience that you can tap into, be it a behavior, motivation or attitude. It can then be used throughout your strategy to not only confirm the validity of ideas, but generate them.

3. Pin down the most lucrative channels and messaging.

With this knowledge at hand, you can move to mapping out your target audience’s actions and the reasons behind them. Knowing their motivations means you can determine how to approach them and where, ensuring your client is always in front of the right eyes at every stage of the purchase journey.

4. Measure your success.

Determining the return on your efforts is crucial for anyone, especially agencies working under tight budget constraints and deadlines under constant pressure to justify their decisions and recommendations.

Solutions like GWIQ Analytics couple extensive panel data with real-time analytics, offering a more holistic portrayal of audience behaviors across time, location, devices and platforms.

Incorporating this type of tracking into your strategy is the most accurate way to measure success and know what you’re doing works. It’s the final puzzle piece you need to succeed at profiling your audience, using reliable data that reflects real people.

Indie spotlight: Brilliant Noise

The challenge

Getting to the revealing insight.

For every agency, the ability to profile a client’s target audiences effectively is essential in acquiring valuable insights. But for David Preece and Nick Siantonas, both Senior Strategists at Brilliant Noise, consumer profiling plays a much more important role across their business.

“This data plays an integral part in our customer planning work”, says David.

“We chose GlobalWebIndex as it provides the attitudinal and behavioral data we need to backup our ideas. We can then combine it with live social data, conversational data and website analytics.”

The action

Backing creative ideas with behavioral data.

This capability gives the agency the quantitative proof behind their work and allows them to make the case for strategic and creative solutions for prospective clients.

“We’ve used this data in several pitches – one recently, for example, where GlobalWebIndex acted as the proof point and core of the pitch,” says Nick.

The result

Winning new business with data-driven solutions.

Using consumer data that went beyond what they were used to, Brilliant Noise:

  • Won new business with unique insight they couldn’t find elsewhere.
  • Saved time and resource with ready access to robust research.
  • Improved targeting with revealing consumer data.

Having instant access to unique insight that made them stand out from the crowd meant they could improve their confidence and show off their individuality.

“I would definitely recommend GlobalWebIndex to other professionals, it’s really powerful and easy to use”, says David.

Download the full case study here.

How to Convert Online Product Researchers into Buyers

Today’s path to purchase is more complex than ever before, with access to always-on media and connected devices offering unlimited opportunities for distraction.

Online retailers have been using an array of techniques to close the loop in the purchase journey – including targeting consumers with recurring programmatic ads of items they have searched for, or emails about abandoned carts and exclusive deals – all with the hope of bringing consumers back and converting them.

After all, a large number of consumers are being lost in the purchase journey: a bespoke study we ran in the U.S. and UK revealed that more than 75% had abandoned an online shopping cart in the last month.

The endless quest to catch and convert online product researchers (83% of the online population) into actual buyers is clear.

But which product categories hold the most potential here? And what can online retailers do to get consumers across the purchase line?

Moving from showroom to webroom.

Looking at the ratio of online researchers to online buyers across nearly 100 products reveals a lot about consumers’ shopping habits across different product categories.

Where the ratio is above 1 – meaning there are more online researchers than online purchasers – the item in question is susceptible to webrooming, where consumers browse online before buying the product in a physical store.

This is more likely to be the case for big-ticket items, like cars or vacations, where consumers can take advantage of in-person customer service, test products or feel reassured about their financial outlay.

In contrast, other items have more online purchasers than online researchers (any with a ratio of under 1).

Some of these products are simply too low in value to require online research, are habitually purchased or are bought because of available online deals. But for some items, like clothing or household furniture, an element of showrooming is likely taking place.

This is where shopping begins in store to test products or sizes, and is completed online to take advantage of price comparisons across different retailers, exclusive online deals and the convenience of delivery.

New technologies will continue to impact these trends throughout 2019.

Chatbots and voice technologies are revolutionizing online customer service, reducing the need for consumers to divert offline for in-store interactions, while developments in augmented reality are letting customers try on styles or products from home.

And some brands are already leading the way. L’Oreal has released a string of smartphone tools to let customers “try on” different hair or skin care products using their smartphone camera, and IKEA’s AR app, “Place”, lets anyone drop virtual furniture straight into their own living room.

In 2019, weaving these emerging technologies into existing strategies will become increasingly important for retailers. Consumers will feel more comfortable about completing purchases online, and the online research experience will be improved, boosting purchase conversion rates.

Highlighting what truly matters to online consumers.

With so many online commerce platforms to choose from, it’s essential for sellers to meet expectations to position themselves, and their benefits, as the default in the path to purchase – especially as one-stop shop experiences offered by the likes of Amazon continue to dominate the space.

This is even more important for brands with little high-street presence or online-only retailers, who are fighting against retail giants with a greater reach.

However, our research shows convincing online researchers to make a purchase when they’re at the crux of deciding whether to convert or not is easier than it seems.

The global impact of pricing immediately stands out.

6 in 10 internet users say free delivery makes them more likely to purchase something online – making it twice as important as next-day delivery.

This trend is the same across all world regions, reaching just over 7 in 10 in North America, and the consumer demand for free, but rapid, delivery has set the precedent in the ecommerce market.

Baby boomers are the most likely generation to be motivated by savings-focused offerings, but also lead the way for being influenced by the convenience factor – whether that’s an easy returns policy or an easy checkout process.

This generation may have the highest ratio of researchers to buyers, but with almost 8 in 10 saying they researched an item online last month, the opportunity to close the purchase loop online is clear – they just need to be aware of the positives of online shopping.

While millennials also favor free delivery, they are most ahead of the average for social commerce, emphasizing the need for brands to work on their social media strategy, with click-throughs to their website or products displayed on posts.

And as millennials are the most socially impacted, being able to motivate followers to share their own opinions online will also contribute towards the shopping process, as our data shows likes and good comments do change consumer opinions.

Meeting consumers at key touchpoints.

The webrooming and showrooming trends only prove brick-and-mortar is still relevant, but as chatbot and AR technology continues to improve the digital shopping process, retailers need to stay ahead of the game with omni-channel experiences – and that extends beyond traditional thinking.

As consumers become more “at home” with online shopping, truly understanding evolving consumer needs will make the difference for brands. It’ll help them be present at crucial touchpoints to meet consumers at key moments, on the right channels, with the best services.

5 Things to Know About Brand Discovery in 2019

In this micro-moments era, it’s paramount to understand the many ways consumers discover new brands, products and services.

So how can marketers effectively engage their target audiences at this early phase of the consumer journey? Here are the five key things you need to know about brand discovery this year.

1. Organic search has blurred the line between brand research and discovery.

Globally, search engines remain the most important source of brand discovery.

37% cite search engines as the main way they find out about new brands, products and services.

While the majority of product searches now start on Amazon, Google continues to see massive surges in “where to buy” mobile searches. This is particularly powerful for brands whose products are not available in online marketplaces like Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores, and brands in new categories.

2. TV ads are still going strong.

TV ads lead the field when it comes to brand discovery, cited by 36% of our respondents as the main way they find out about new products and services.

But TV is even more important than this figure implies because, unlike search engines, it doesn’t rely on any existing need or interest in the product or its category.

There has been a drop in the number of people citing TV ads as their main source of brand discovery, as well as a shift to video on demand and streaming, but other channels are yet to catch up with the medium’s unique qualities.

TV has the ability to create new opportunities. For example, with second-screening now the norm for most consumers, TV and search can complement and support each other strongly.

TV is especially important for baby boomers, who watch it the most, but it’s also very competitive with audiences under 35.This is also the age bracket where the synergy between search and TV is the strongest.

43% of 55-64s mostly discover new brands through TV, as do 33% of 16-24s.

Linear TV is likely to remain the most popular way to consume video content in 2019, even as online video and video-on-demand consumption increases. Most consumers still prefer to unwind in front of the TV set, rather than use their phones and other devices.

Ultimately, as the worlds of linear and OTT entertainment continue to converge over the year ahead, the two are likely to continue to complement each other rather than compete.

3. Ad blocking presents a challenge.

44% are now blocking ads on any device, but almost half (45%) of users who block ads are ‘selective’ when doing so, meaning they may still discover brands via online ads.

Ad effectiveness can’t be addressed without considering the recent rise of ad-blocking.

With approximately 3 in 10 ad-blockers still discovering brands via online ads, this suggests they don’t block every ad on every site they visit.

Frustration is the biggest driver of ad-blocking. 51% of those who use ad-blockers believe that ads are too intrusive, annoying, take up too much screen space or that there are simply too many of them.

On the other hand, privacy remains a smaller concern.

44% tend to opt in for personalized loyalty rewards from brands, while 15% say personalized purchase recommendations on a website are a key way they discover brands.

This also cements how important Amazon and other online traders’ algorithms are in introducing new brands to consumers, entirely outside the ordinary media/advertising ecosystem.

4. Owned content on social media is increasingly important.

The share of people who are most likely to discover brands through recommendations or comments on social media has crept up slowly from 22% to 24% since 2015.

Meanwhile, updates on brands’ social media pages went from 11% to 17% in the same period.

The increased importance of owned pages tracks the development of direct-to-consumer brands, which have seen a huge surge in advertising and business through social media – especially Instagram and picture-sharing sites like Huaban in China.

To some extent, brand discovery on social channels resembles the linear, semi-random nature of TV ads, which are interwoven throughout the content.

As you’d expect, younger audiences over-index on this answer, but “younger” in this case just means under 35 (32%). Older consumers lag behind somewhat, but the cut-off point isn’t until 55-64 years old.

5. Visual culture and visual search increasingly prominent.

Visual platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram naturally lend themselves to introducing new products. Knowing this, many brands are trying to close the gap between discovery and purchase using social-based ecommerce.

The visual search ecosystem is growing rapidly, with innovations from Google, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and ASOS appearing in just the last year. Pinterest has reported a 100% year-on-year increase in Pinterest Lens users, with 600 million visual searches every month.

A quarter of all internet users have watched a video made by a brand in the past month.

U.S. retail giant Walmart is also experimenting with visual search technology through Hayneedle, a home furnishings company they acquired in 2016. The technology will allow users to point their smartphone camera at a piece of furniture they see while out and about, and then suggest relevant or similar products in their inventory.

In light of these innovations, it doesn’t seem unrealistic to imagine a time when searching for or discovering new brands and products using images will be more convenient and prevalent than the current text-based search.

What does this mean for brands moving forward?

Linear TV has traditionally been seen as the leading platform for brand discovery globally because of its near-universal reach, as well as its direct access and ability to tell stories in the richest format available.

New media formats and viewing habits have seemed to challenge this – but it’s important not to exaggerate their importance or success.

As the prime channel for consumers before they formulate a need, TV is still king.

By using social media and online display advertising, direct-to-consumer brands are reproducing many of the top strengths TV has enjoyed. But rather than TV being completely disrupted by the new media, the playing field appears to be becoming more level.

4 Things CPG Brands Should Know about U.S. and Chinese Mothers in 2019

Mothers make up some of the world’s biggest target consumer groups, especially across China and America − two of the top priority markets for the CPG parenting vertical.

Despite their importance for brands, recent research reveals 56% of American moms feel marketers don’t understand them.

To successfully reach this cross-generational audience, it takes harnessing a deep understanding of how they’re evolving.

Our latest guide, featuring fresh research conducted on over 2,000 mothers across China and the U.S., reveals some key imperatives to shape a winning CPG marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond.

1. Quality matters more than you think.

Knowing your audience in today’s climate takes a lot more than understanding demographics. For mothers, the key lies in quantifying these elements, shaping a data-driven strategy that speaks directly to them.

Our latest research shows that quality is the number one motivator for moms purchasing baby products in both China and the U.S.

Nearly 1 in 2 new moms in the U.S. and 2 out of 3 new moms in China say they have paid more for baby food they perceive to be higher quality.

While quality is still a top priority, U.S. moms are also highly motivated by price and convenience.

3 out of 4 U.S. moms name ‘value for money’ as a top priority when buying for baby.

This tells us when marketing to Chinese mothers, it’s essential for your messaging to keep the focus on quality. By bringing in food origins, safety standards, and organic ingredients, CPG brands can successfully tap into the core priorities of these consumers.

By contrast, marketing efforts geared toward U.S. moms will likely be more effective if they can link more practical considerations like value and convenience, without compromising quality.

2. Social media is a crucial channel.

For your message to cut through, it’s essential to know which channels will amplify your reach and streamline your spend.

For mothers, social media stands out as a key channel. Our research shows motherhood brings about an increase in social media usage.

40% of U.S. moms say they post more photos on social media after having children.

This is compared to 34% in China.

66% of Chinese moms actively use the popular social platform WeChat. This is more than the average Chinese internet user. What’s more, 48% of U.S. moms report actively engaging with Facebook.

But it’s millennial mothers who take the lead as the most active social media users.

Global internet users spend an average of about 2 hours and 37 minutes on social media daily. For millennials, that average jumps to 2 hours and 53 minutes − almost 3 hours a day.

This tells us any brand targeting mothers today needs to prioritise having a strong presence across the social media platforms most relevant to this audience. As a primary touchpoint along the consumer journey, the strength of your social strategy could make a significant difference in encouraging moms to purchase and beyond.

3. Online communities are key for brand discovery.

When looking at the most influential sources of information in the purchase journey for moms, it’s clear that digital channels are becoming increasingly important, especially in China.

Nearly 2 in 3 Chinese moms are looking to recommendations from other moms on social media as part of the research process.

Close to half of all U.S. moms also consider social recommendations to be an influential channel.

Similarly, we’re seeing more dedicated online communities for moms playing increasingly important roles in the discovery phase.

Parenting blogs and forums are influential sources of information for 58% of Chinese moms and 43% of U.S. moms.

This is key considering social communities have now surpassed online ads, TV ads, and parenting magazines for product discovery.

For brands to effectively engage modern mothers, they need to understand and tap into these communities.

4. Relevant and trusted content goes a long way.

The overarching focus on community is something that needs careful consideration when marketing to moms, especially when it comes to content.

As we now know, today’s moms are very open to recommendations.

More than half say that they’re easily swayed by other people’s opinion.

Their preference for personalized brand loyalty rewards also fits in here, suggesting moms appreciate brands that take the time to get to know them and the things they care about.

Our research shows that in China, the content most appealing to moms is that with a focus on food and nutrition.

58% of Chinese moms use meal planning/nutrition and recipe websites to help with parenting needs.

In the U.S. however, moms are more likely to refer to medical websites like WebMd for help on parenting issues.

This gives us clear insight into kind of content that appeals to mothers, and where different strategies need to come into play. Medical experts may prove effective for reaching U.S. moms, for example, while food influencers may be the best choice for reaching Chinese mothers.

Above all, trust is a major consideration for mothers. Brands who promote authentic, user-generated content, placing a core focus on reputation and quality, are sure to strike a chord.

Reaching the modern mother.

For CPG marketers in the parenting vertical, mothers make up a complex audience, spanning across many generations. But modern mothers aren’t impossible to reach.

The key lies in tapping into the online community that’s continuously taking precedence in the consumer journey.

It means harnessing a deep understanding of who these moms are and what really matters to them − something that can only be done with deep consumer insight that translates far more than their behaviors alone. Download the complete guide to find out how.

Which Smartphone Features Really Matter to Consumers?

With CES 2019 well underway, we can expect some of the top smartphone brands to give us a glimpse into the next generation of handset features.

This year, among the most heavily rumored new features to be revealed are foldable devices, 5G-enabled handsets, a higher number of inbuilt cameras, as well as holographic screen projections and a bigger AI focus.

Leveraging our recent research in the UK and U.S., here we explore which features these consumers say matter the most to them, and get an idea of what frustrates consumers about their current handsets.

Improving core features is crucial for mid-range handsets.

Fancy new features may create the biggest buzz, but improvements to the core phone features are actually likely to drive more sales.

What frustrates UK and U.S. consumers the most about their current handset is poor battery life, which stands significantly above all other frustrations.

This grievance is most acute among owners of mid-range smartphones, who make up around three quarters of those who plan to upgrade their handset in the next 12 months.

Other factors like storage space, slow performance and poor camera quality also feature prominently, especially among the frustrations of the mid-range smartphone owners.

Targeting these frustrations can yield large rewards in the mid-range market.

51% of premium handset owners strongly agreed they are loyal to their current smartphone brand. Compared to the 31% of mid-range handset owners who strongly agree with this statement, it’s clear there’s a lot more room for new customer acquisition opportunities in the mid-range market.

The quality of the core smartphone features can make or break a sale in this highly competitive category, and Chinese brands like Huawei, Xiaomi and OnePlus haven’t hesitated in leveraging these needs to muscle in on the market.

These incumbents have introduced various qualities or features associated with premium mobiles into this mid tier of handsets, all the while keeping a modest price tag.

Around half of UK and U.S. consumers feel Chinese smartphone brands offer better value for money compared to other global brands, or that Chinese brands have the latest smartphone features and are comparable to other global brands.

This has put the onus on global brands like Sony, LG and Samsung to maximize their mid-range offerings to avoid being priced out of the competition by cheaper but formidable rivals.

However, maximizing one feature on a mid-range handset often comes at the price of another feature, meaning different handsets are being targeted to different consumer groups based on their most prominent features.

Samsung is using its new A7 and A9 models to aim for the millennial market, focusing on camera quality and screen size to tap into this consumer group’s desire to post high-quality photos and videos on social media.

Our research shows younger users are much more likely to say camera quality is the most important smartphone feature, and they’re also a lot more likely to say they’d most like to see improvements to camera capabilities in upcoming models.

Although battery life and storage space post the highest scores for all age groups, older consumers value these attributes the most. Processing power, durability and screen size also factor in more heavily among these older consumers, so functionality is still most important for young and older consumers alike.

Premium market features go experimental.

Recent premium smartphone generations have introduced some fairly major changes to handset design and functionality, with the removal of headphone jacks being among the most controversial. Many of these changes were implemented for the sake of better internal hardware components while maintaining sleek designs.

But upcoming smartphone ranges promise to take smartphone capabilities to a new level.

Foldable devices, 3D object scanning and holographic screen projections are just a few capabilities which not that long ago would have seemed far-fetched. And while consumers don’t necessarily know what the benefits or use cases of these features are, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for them.

Again, it’s the usual suspects which make up the top five most desired features – storage, battery life, processing, durability and camera quality.

But almost a quarter of consumers would most like to see holographic screen projections, and more than a fifth would like to see 3D object scanning and foldable phones.

Of course, as you may guess, it’s younger age groups who are most likely to stand in line for these features.

16-24s are more than 3x as likely as 55-64s to want holographic screen projections, for example. They’re also more than twice as likely as 55-64s to want 3D object scanning and a bigger focus on AI in future models.

Consumers are enthusiastic about 5G connectivity.

One of the most anticipated potential developments at this year’s CES event is 5G-enabled mobiles.

5G connectivity promises to revolutionize not only smartphone capabilities, but also the capabilities of any other connected device, be that a watch, a car or a household appliance.

For consumers, there’s an obvious advantage to 5G connectivity, especially in relation to media consumption on their smartphones.

Smartphone users are already streaming music, TV shows, films and countless social media videos on their devices. But with 5G promising connection speeds of up to 20x faster than 4G, this enhances the quality, speed and predictability of their mobile entertainment. It also opens up the possibility for other emerging branches of entertainment, such as streaming games online on mobile.

Our data shows the majority of consumers intend to switch to a 5G network on their smartphone, with most (37%) saying they’ll switch as soon as one becomes available.

Consumer awareness of 5G technology is high, with just 7% stating they don’t know what it is.

Against the backdrop of longer handset upgrade cycles, smartphone manufacturers need to position themselves on the leading edge of the industry to capture consumer attention and maintain an image of innovation.

Showcasing futuristic and exciting features is one of the most conspicuous ways of achieving this, and the brands that are perceived to have set the agenda for the next generation of features will benefit in the long run.