Irish consumers are increasingly likely to turn to their PCs, smartphones and tablet PCs to find gifts, check recommendations, compare prices, access online coupons, and ultimately pay for their purchases, according to the results of KPMG’s fifth Annual Consumers and Convergence Survey. The survey canvassed the views of over 9,000 consumers in 31 countries, including Ireland.
Increasing Pace of Adoption
Almost half (49 percent) of Irish consumers now have a smartphone, compared with just 9 percent in 2010, and over a third (37 percent) have downloaded five apps or more in the last year, compared with only 9 percent of smartphone users worldwide. Meanwhile, highlighting the shift to a portable online world, 63 percent of those surveyed spend more than one hour per day on social networking sites, whilst only 76 percent of Irish respondents now have a landline.
Irish consumers are also increasingly looking to personalise their entertainment, with over a quarter (26 percent) of all respondents saying that, given the choice, they would prefer to watch programmes and films on their laptop or PC. Eamonn Russell (Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications at KPMG in Ireland) says: “This trend has led the Irish government to examine the idea of a broadcasting licence fee regardless of the device used to access content as a replacement for the current TV licence fee.”
Security and Privacy Key Issues
Despite the readiness to adopt new technologies, the survey showed that, yet again, the most significant barrier to new digital models continues to be concerns over data privacy and security.
Irish-based financial institutions in particular face challenges in this regard, with only 38 percent of Irish respondents citing financial institutions as being the most trusted to keep online personal and financial data secure, compared with 56 percent of respondents worldwide. In a near reversal, secure internet payment providers are trusted by less than a third of consumers (30 percent) globally but by over half (51 percent) in Ireland. According to Russell, “It is clear that the trust factor is playing an increasingly important role in ecommerce, and getting it right at the start is vital.”
Meanwhile, and perhaps reflecting lower disposable income trends, just over one in ten (11 percent) of Irish consumers are very willing to have their online usage tracked if it means lower costs or free content, compared with only 4 percent in 2010. Businesses with customer data are increasingly looking to monetise their information by sharing it with others as a potentially significant new revenue source – but it’s also a very sensitive topic from both a consumer and legal standpoint.
Making it Pay
Despite embracing a digital future, only 15 percent of Irish consumers currently pay for any type of online content, compared with 27 percent globally. Indicative of the challenge of monetising the web, almost three quarters (73 percent) of Irish consumers state an unwillingness to start paying for content previously accessed for free, compared with 56 percent worldwide.
However, over a quarter (26 percent) claim that they would be willing to pay for content unavailable anywhere else. Amongst those who do pay for content, 52 percent of Irish respondents noted that the reason for buying online is that content is of better quality than comparable free content.
The Influence of Others
Online information is also playing an increasing role in influencing buying decisions. When making purchases, Irish consumers cited being “influenced” by online information sources such as Facebook fan pages (23 percent), comparison sites (29 percent) and online discount voucher sites such as Groupon (33 percent) .
Future of Retail Online and Offline
Sixty percent of Irish consumers are more likely to buy books and CDs online than in store, compared with 55 percent elsewhere in Europe and 48 percent worldwide. Even in the food and grocery category, 24 percent of Irish consumers surveyed are now more likely to shop online than in store – highlighting yet another challenge facing traditional retailers.
Digital Game Changers
For mobile, internet and telecom service providers, the message continues to be very clear: the overriding factors for Irish consumers in choosing or switching providers is price (67 percent) and quality of service (54 percent), as opposed to device selection (23 percent) and exclusive content or services (15 percent).
Indicative of the potential for massive challenges in certain sectors, 18 percent of Irish consumers indicated that they plan to get rid of their landline in the next 12 months and use their mobile only. Meanwhile, 15 percent of those surveyed planned on eliminating their cable or satellite TV service altogether. Amongst the reasons given, 52 percent claimed they were “happy with video content online” and 41 percent noted that their existing services “don’t allow them to pay for the channels they want”.
In conclusion, Anna Scally, tax partner at KPMG in Ireland, says: “Irish consumers are increasingly willing to adopt new technologies and digital business models, and that spells big risks and opportunities for almost every business – what’s exciting for Ireland is that so much of the digital world they use is being developed and managed from Ireland.”
Download the full survey report:
The Converged Lifestyle: Consumers and Convergence 5