Research Finds Consumers Crave Simplicity

Laptop-Asian-Girl-ATechnology companies may believe that the bells and whistles that come with a technological breakthrough are enough to sell a product, but consumers want a much simpler understanding about how it will relate to their lives.

According to new research conducted by Ketchum, three-quarters of consumers around the world are still dissatisfied with technology’s ability to make their lives simpler. According to the survey of more than 6,000 consumers in six countries, more than half (54%) said they want technology to be easy to use. Consumers also wanted devices to simplify their lives (46%), provide entertainment (35%) and express who they are (11%). 

“The bottom line is people are looking for simplification,” Esty Pujadas, partner and director of Ketchum’s global technology practice, tells Marketing Daily. “That’s not to say that they’re not appreciative of features and functionality, but it’s more that they want to understand better the benefits.” 



Consumers have a basic understanding that technology can make their lives simpler, Pujadas says, but they are short on specifics. Communications from the technology makers and marketers often get weighed down in the technical specifications, rather than focusing on the user experience, she says -- noting that among the survey respondents, those who “liked” their personal technology far outweighed those who “loved” it.

“[Companies] tend to focus more on the features and functionalities, and what we would suggest is bringing more of the human experience to balance that out,” she says. “If the manufacturing world can balance the story and communicate the human experience in it, they can move more of the ‘likes’ to the ‘loves.’”

The global survey also notes some cultural differences. The number of Chinese who claim to love their smartphones (44%) is nearly double those who say the same in France (24%). Usage patterns are also every different: the Chinese are more apt to use technology to manage their relationships and health, while the French tend to use technology to create experiences. 

“People in different countries use and relate to technology differently,” Pujadas says. “[Marketers] might take into consideration how they’re telling the story [of a piece of technology], and how that can relate the experience behind the technology.”

At the same time, the survey enabled the company to break technology consumers into four distinct groups, which would serve marketers better than traditional demographics when it comes to technology, Pujadas says. 

The largest group, comprising 37% of the study’s global population, are the Enthusiasts. They are passionate about technology and are willing to sacrifice simplicity for empowerment. The next group, Infomaniacs (25%) value getting information and experiences over improving or managing relationships. The Pragmatists (22%) don’t love technology, but see the value it provides in managing relationships and getting things done. Finally, the Disconnects (16%) place a high value on simplification over the empowerment or enrichment that technology provides. 

“Different people are going to require different things,” Pujadas says of those breakdowns. “Don’t give in to the idea that the technology sells itself for everybody everywhere. There are more people who can embrace it even more and you have huge opportunities to go beyond that if you tell the human experience around it.”

1 comment about "Research Finds Consumers Crave Simplicity".
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  1. Andrew Koven from Geoff & Drew's, May 12, 2012 at 3:46 p.m.

    100 years from now, the KISS principles will still hold true. Caveat, be careful not to oversimplify what it takes to make it simple for the end user.

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