The Rise of the Context Comfortables

Igor is from Minneapolis. He’s very creative, very connected and a proponent of digital sharing. “I feel,” he said, “that we are not even scratching the surface of what we can do with technology. If the Apples, Googles, and Microsofts of the world started collaborating in addition to competing, and letting smaller competitors create, develop, and bring their product to market instead of buying them and killing the idea, I think everyone would benefit.”

Igor is a Context Comfortable. In fact, he is not just comfortable. He is a High Comfort consumer. Twelve percent of consumers are High Comfort consumers. They are actively engaged in digital experiences that involve significant amounts of data sharing. They know they are sharing and they believe that they will receive big benefits from context-aware solutions.

Another 27 percent of consumers are Comfort consumers. Though they don’t show quite the same level of interest in sharing as High Comfort consumers, they are still very comfortable sharing data and are likely to embrace contextual tools and environments.

Thirty nine percent of US consumers are Context Comfortables. Another forty four percent of consumers are Reluctants. Although they may share just as much data as Context Comfortables, they are reluctant to do so. Seventeen percent of consumers are No Comfort consumers. They don’t want to share data, even though they often do in order to close the gap between thought and action.

During the summer of 2015 Stone Mantel and Market Vision conducted a 1,209 person survey for the Digital Consumer Collaborative. All survey participants had smart phones and thus were, whether they knew it or not, sharing data. Our intent was to better understand Context Comfortables and their counter parts. Digital Context, the channel strategy that comes after Omni-Channel, is dependent on people’s attitudes and willingness to give companies permission to access their data. From the study, we identified four types of consumer attitudes toward data sharing. In our presentation we will share details regarding each group: High Comfort, Comfort, Reluctant, and No Comfort consumers.

High Comfort Consumers

High Comfort consumers are willing to share data across all eight data types with a variety of companies if there is a beneficial purpose behind the sharing. These consumers show the highest levels of comfort with digital tools and the impact of all things digital has on their lives. They see value in connecting with a brand through digital and expect value in return. They expect Digital Context to facilitate and streamline information flow, providing users with content they want as a result of their brand connection.

Comfort Consumers

Comfort Consumers are also Context Comfortables. And there are more of them. They share many of the attributes of High Comfort consumers. They are frequent social media users and derive value from the time spent on social media. You are not as likely to find them on SnapChat or Tumblr or Vine, but you will find them on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Pinterest. They rank fairly high in the technology adoption continuum and are increasing their usage of queues and life logging. They are buying the Fitbits. They are tracking their activity. And, they look forward to changes in their lifestyle and shopping experiences as technology advances. While most strongly influenced to purchase by traditional motivators, they are becoming more open to digital influencers.

Reluctant Consumers

Reluctant consumers share data but are wary about sharing. Today’s Reluctants are not the Reluctants of four years ago. Even so, they are still very willing to share location, brand history, and tool productivity data. Four years ago they might have been unwilling to share location and maybe brand data, but today they see the benefits of these types of data and are just as likely as to share the data as their Comfort friends. Where Reluctants differ from Context Comfortables is in their willingness to share social, environmental, and biometric data. They do not think that they are ready for that, yet.

No Comfort Consumers

No Comfort consumers are older consumers. The average age is 52. And despite the fact that all of our participants had smart phones, these consumers take no comfort in sharing data with companies. They neither frequently use nor derive much satisfaction from social media. Most No Comforts are typically behind the curve on adopting new ways of doing things, including technology, queues, and life logging. However, there are about 20 percent of these consumers who consider themselves early adopters.

Meet Dave

Dave Norton originated the ethnographic and co-creation techniques of the Mantel Method while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Internationally recognized as the thought leader on meaningful brand experiences, Norton has lectured at Harvard, Columbia Business School and at Fortune magazine’s annual summits. Since 2005, Stone Mantel has guided hundreds of brand experience leaders in creating meaningful multichannel brand experiences. Dave has spent hundreds of hours interviewing and observing consumers and leads a team of highly trained researchers and strategists at Stone Mantel.

Dave founded the Digital Consumer Collaborative in 2013 to help companies collaborate on issues associated with big data, digital consumption, mobility and experience. For eight years he led, with Martie Woods, the Deluxe Collaborative. Because of his research and thought leadership, he is one of the youngest recipients of Brigham Young University’s highest award for honored alumni.

Hear Dave speak at MobCon 2015.

Photo courtesy of Sergey Nivens.