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Key Findings May/June 2011

Online Video Usage Through TV Moms Want Email Promotional Messages Retirement Planning: Women vs. Men
Baby Boomers Still Matter Twitter Posts Cell Phone Waste
Customer Service More Important During Recession Americans’ Dental Insurance Coverage Consumers’ Energy Saving Behaviors
Email Use Dropping as Social Networking Picks Up Healthcare Costs Up, Usage Down Recycling Personal Computers Can Decrease Waste, Digital Divide
Computer Tablet Use Electronic Medical Records Achieving 100% Renewable Energy by 2030
Emerging Majorities Response to Digital Advertising Recession Affecting Breaks at Work Workers’ Reasons to Quit Jobs

Online Video Usage Through TV

Some 24% of American households have connected their TV sets to the Internet through a gaming system, Blu-ray player or directly to the Internet itself, but only 5% of these households use those devices to watch video from the Internet in an average week. Those watching from these devices include 16% of men aged 18 to 24, compared to 3% of the rest of the population.

Usage of online pay-for-video services also remains relatively low. For example, only 4% of households use Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” services weekly. Only 5% would be willing to pay $9.95 to access Hulu’s full video library. And, just 4% would strongly consider disconnecting their TV in favor of online video services.


Baby Boomers Still Matter

Spending by America’s 116 million Baby Boomers age 50 and older was $2.9 trillion last year, up 45% over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the 182 million people younger than age 50 spent $3.3 trillion last year, up only 6% during the same decade.

Despite the stereotype of older consumers shying away from new things, Boomers are among the biggest buyers of new technology and new cars. For example, consumers ages 50 and older spent $87 billion on cars during 2010 compared with $70 billion by those under age 50, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Boomers are expected to get even more wealthier: Americans ages 50 and older will inherit an estimated $14 trillion to $20 trillion during the next 20 years.

Customer Service More Important During Recession

Some 61% of Americans say that customer service is more important to them during the recession than it was in prior years. They repay excellent service by spending an average of 9% more with those companies. Only 37% say that companies have taken notice of this change and improved their customer service. Some 28% say companies are actually paying less attention to the service they provide.

The greatest influences in consumers’ choices of companies to do business with include personal experience (98%), the company’s reputation or brand (92%), and recommendations from friends and family (88%).


Email Use Dropping as Social Networking Picks Up

According to ComScore, email use dropped 59% among users aged 12-17, as well as 8% overall during 2010. Users between the ages of 18 and 54 are also sending/receiving email less, however, those 55 and older are actually using email more.

Instead of using email, young people in America are turning to social networks to communicate. Social networks account for 14% of time spent online in the U.S.  Specifically, Facebook accounts for 10% of page views and it enjoyed a 38% growth of American users to reach 153.9 million in 2010. Total time spent on the site went up 79% to 49.4 billion minutes.

Facebook is only one piece of the American social networking scene. Nine out of every 10 online users visited social networking sites by the end of 2010. LinkedIn grew by 30%  to 26.6 million users, while Twitter grew 18% to 23.6 million users, and Tumblr enjoyed 168% growth to 6.7 million users. However, MySpace saw a decrease of 26%, falling to 50 million users.

Computer Tablet Use

Most computer tablet users are finding it primarily a source of entertainment. Nearly seven in 10 tablet owners spend at least 1 hour per day using the device, including 38% who spend over two hours. While 28% consider it their primary computer, 77% report they are spending less time on their desktop or laptop PCs since they got a tablet.

Over 80% of tablet owners said they mostly use the device at home; just 11% use them primarily on the go.

Some 43% of tablet owners spend more time each day with their tablet than with a desktop or laptop computer. Other select media receiving less time due to tablet usage are detailed in the chart below.

U.S. Tablet Owners Who Spend More Time Each Day on Their Tablet Than with Select Media, March 2011 (% of respondents)

  • 59% Paper book
  • 52% Radio
  • 43% Desktop/laptop
  • 41% Smartphone
  • 34% TV
  • 11% None of the above

Source: AdMob


Emerging Majorities Response to Digital Advertising

Hispanics have a higher response rate to digital ads than Blacks or Whites. This includes banner ads and email promotions. Both Hispanics and Blacks are three times as likely as Whites to respond to pop-up ads.

Moms Want Email Promotional Messages

Women with children under the age of 12 (80%) say they look forward to checking their email, and 96% do so at least once per day. Some 80% want to receive email messages from their favorite brands, with 45% wanting these once a week. Seventy percent say they would provide information about their children if that allowed them to receive more tailored information and offers.

Moms are most interested in emails that include coupons (85%) and information about sales and promotions (73%). Some 78% say they would make special trip to a store after receiving a coupon via email; 63% have printed coupons for their next trip to the store for brands they use or would like to try.

Twitter Posts

The vast majority of messages posted on Twitter (91%) are from consumers, 8% are generated by companies or brands, and 1% are from celebrities.

Messages posted by consumers include mentioning brands (12%) and most commonly refer to social network brands (22%), entertainment brands (17%), and technology brands (17%). Messages about brands mostly share news or information about the brand (43%), refer to using the brand (35%), or share an opinion about the brand (21%).

Research shows that Twitter messages are most commonly conversational with 43% directed at a specific person, 24% are status updates or ritualistic, and 12% are news items. Some 92% of Twitter messages are viewable by the general public; only 8% are sent privately.


Americans’ Dental Insurance Coverage

One-quarter (26%) of the 172 million Americans who have private health insurance did not have dental insurance in 2008 (most recent data available), per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One-third (33%) have dental coverage through a  comprehensive health insurance plan, 26% get coverage through a single-service plan that only covers dental, and 14% use a combination of coverage through both comprehensive and single service plans.


Healthcare Costs Up, Usage Down

During 2010, about 52 million Americans went without health insurance, compared to 38 million in 2001. Seventy five million Americans skipped doctor visits all together, along with not getting prescriptions and recommended tests or treatments in 2010 because of costs, up from 47 million in 2001. Among people with insurance who have high deductibles, 31% percent went without care due to cost.

Another healthcare expense concern is the continued growth of out-of-pocket costs. The Commonwealth Fund reports that 49 million working adults spent 10% or more of their income on these costs and premiums in 2010, an increase from 31 million in 2001.

Electronic Medical Records

Some 20-30% of all primary care physicians in the U.S. currently use basic electronic health records.  Practices or physicians using electronic health records make an average of  $44,000 more in net income per year than those who do not, basically because electronic processes are set up to log all procedures performed, which triggers billing that might be missed using a paper method.

Recession Affecting Breaks at Work

One-third of American workers (32%) take less than a half hour for lunch, 5% take less than 15 minutes, and 10% never take a lunch break. Almost one in five (18%) typically do not leave their desk but eat in their office daily. Since the recession began, 47% have been packing lunch more often than they used to in order to save money or to eat healthier.

The recession has also caused changes for smokers: 44% say they are more likely to quit because of the cost of their habits. In addition, 21% are taking fewer smoke breaks during the work day, and 20% have quit completely.

To put that into perspective, the majority of smokers take three smoke breaks per day (70%) and another 12% say they take four or five breaks a day. Some 78% of all smokers say their smoke breaks last up to 10 minutes each.

Retirement Planning: Women vs. Men

Women are less confident than men when it comes to retirement planning. While 27% of men say they are doing a good job of preparing financially for retirement, only 18% of women claim the same. In addition, men are less concerned about having enough money to take care of basic expenses during retirement (32% of men versus 24% of women).

Women (68%) are more likely than men ( 52%) to be “very concerned” that Social Security payments will be reduced, and worry that the age at which they become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits will increase before they retire (54% of women versus 44% of men).  However, women seem to be more willing to rely on Social Security as a future source of income: 82% of women report that Social Security will be a source of income in retirement, compared to 72% of men.

Despite longer life expectancies, women are saving less for retirement than men. Women are more likely than men (35% vs. 26%) to think they will need less than $250,000 for retirement. Some 12% of women say they do not know how much they need to save, while only 5% of men said they were unsure of their savings needs. Men are also more likely to believe they need more than $1 million for retirement.

Workers’ Reason to Quit Jobs

Some workers return from their summer vacations with a new outlook on work, which often leads to thoughts of quitting. The chart below details the reasons.

Cell Phone Waste

Some 130 million cell phones enter landfills each year: over two million a week. That’s because the average life of cell phones is less than 18 months. Discarded cell phones account for 65,000 tons of toxic waste each year.

Consumers’ Energy Saving Behaviors

A survey by the Shelton Group found that 91% of consumers say they’ve changed their behavior to save energy at home (taking steps like washing clothes in cold water or adjusting their thermostat settings), up from 60% in 2010. Those who now unplug chargers and other electronics when not in use increased to 56% this year, up from 33% last year.

Americans’ reasons for conserving energy include “to save money” (32%), followed by “to protect our environment” (17%), “to preserve the quality of life for future generations” (15%) and “to be responsible and not waste resources” (10%).

When asked which of these behaviors was the easiest to do that would help reduce their utility bill the most, the top answer was “raise/lower thermostat settings” (18%), followed by “install extra insulation” (15%) and “unplug chargers, appliances and electronics when not in use” (13%). In comparison, Americans said the most difficult thing to do was to “purchase an ENERGY STAR® appliance” (24%), followed by “install extra insulation” (18%) and “unplug chargers, appliances and electronics when not in use” (12%).

Recycling Personal Computers Can Decrease Waste, Digital Divide

In today’s digital society, a home computer serves as the library, post office, tutor, bank, newspaper, employment agency, medical advisor, match maker and more. However, one in four U.S. homes – or 28 million households – lacks a personal computer.

On the other hand, U.S. businesses replace about 40 million computers every year – and about 75% of this equipment is four years old or less, meaning it has significant useful life remaining. Unfortunately, more than one-half is stored away in warehouses and closets or thrown away; only 3% is donated.

In addition to reducing e-waste, recycling personal computers through donating saves energy and cuts greenhouse gas emissions related to manufacturing new computers. For example, donating 1,000 computers saves enough energy to power 680 houses for a year, and reduces greenhouse gases equivalent to removing 480 cars from the road for a year.

Achieving 100% Renewable Energy by 2030

A report appearing in the journal Energy Policy describes how it is possible to achieve 100% renewable energy worldwide by 2030. Reaching this goal would mean building about four million 5 MW wind turbines, 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, and around 90,000 300 MW solar power plants.

The authors excluded all fossil fuel sources of energy and concentrated only on wind, solar, waves and geothermal sources. Fossil fuels currently provide over 80% of the world’s energy supply. They also did not include biomass, currently the most widely used renewable energy source, because of concerns about pollution and land-use issues. Their calculations also left out nuclear power generation, which currently supplies around 14% of the world’s electricity.


  • Some 43% of shoppers say they always relay on a shopping list. Married shoppers (52%), women (46%), and Whites (46%) are more likely than the average American to shop with a list, while Hispanics (37%), singles (35%) and Millennials (32%) are less likely. One third (34%( make lists based on recipes and 31% use recommendations from family or friends.
  • Some 34% of North Americans say they visit social networking sites because they receive an email to their personal address. In comparison, only 4% do so after getting an SMS text message, a direct mailing (2%), an email to their work account (2%), or a telephone call (1%).
  • When on a road trip, 60% of moms say they sing songs with their children in the car to keep them occupied and entertained.

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