••• technology research

Shopping out loud

Voice-assistant tech use spreading

As the popularity of voice-assistant technology continues to rise, so does its expanded usefulness in guiding consumers from awareness to purchase. The Voice Consumer Index released by Vixen Labs reveals how different sectors might leverage the technology, which is now used by a majority of people, with a third using it every day.

With Apple’s Siri initially launching in 2011, Google’s Voice Search in 2012 and Amazon’s Alexa launching in 2013, voice technology has long moved on from the early adopter stage, with 34% of U.K. consumers using voice assistants daily, followed by 31% in Germany and 30% for the U.S. Usage is spread across all age groups as well, showing that the opportunity to use voice-assistant technology is not just for brands with a younger audience.

When it comes to user attitudes toward voice-assistant tech, privacy is a concern across all three regions but not a barrier to active users. In the U.K., 51% say that using a voice assistant to search is quicker than text, and about half (51% U.S., 52% U.K., 50% Germany) across all regions are interested in how voice technology will develop in the future. However, non-users do cite privacy and trust as the main barriers to usage, along with feeling self-conscious about using voice-assistant tech.

When analyzing the reasons why people use voice assistants, it’s clear that behaviors align with the marketing funnel. Users move from awareness (80% search about products) to purchase and retention (41% of users have made a purchase through voice). Across all three regions, voice-assistant tech is most often used at home, either on a phone or a smart speaker. Users in the U.S. are the most likely to use this tech outside of their homes, with 18% using it in the car (vs. 8% U.K., 9% Germany) and 12% using it in the office/at work (vs. 6% U.K., 9% Germany).

Thirty-seven percent of people in the U.S. reported conducting searches on their smartphone using their voice, while 27% indicated they were likely to use voice to search on their desktop or laptop and 24% said the same for their smart speaker. The research also found that, after the initial search, users were likely to continue their information-seeking on a product’s website (82% U.S., 81% U.K., 77% Germany). Many were also interested in going to a brand’s mobile app or YouTube to learn more about the product.

Audiences across the U.K., U.S. and Germany were asked about their top-priority voice-assisted tasks across different industries. In banking and finance, an average of 32% across the 6,000 people surveyed identified “check my bank balance” as their top priority. Results showed small differences in behavior between the three countries: 21% of U.S. consumers said “pay a bill” is their top banking and finance voice-assisted task, compared to 15% in the U.K. and 17% in Germany. This likelihood switches in other areas: German users are more open to using the technology to find a doctor or specialist than those from the U.S. or U.K.

The study was conducted by Delineate from May 14-19, 2021, and surveyed 6,000 respondents ages 18 and older (2,000 each in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany). 

••• financial research

Spending for the moment

Study examines Gen Z financial habits

person on tablet looking at financial charts

From generation to generation, key events can change the way that people handle their finances. To better understand how Gen Z manages their financial lives, Logica Research explored the financial habits of this cohort – specifically those aged 16-24 years old – in a recent Future of Money study.

Although 37% of Gen Z is still using cash today, this is anticipated to decline as only 22% say they will pay with cash in person in the future. In-person debit (35% to 26%) and credit card (16% to 14%) usage is also expected to decline, while use of payment apps will rise from 5% today to 19% for in-person payments. Peer-to-peer payment forms such as Venmo are on the rise among this group and Gen Z’s use of buy-now-pay-later options has also jumped from 15% to 22% since the onset of the pandemic. Coupled with the anticipated lower use of credit cards, data suggests that Gen Z will be looking for alternative ways to use credit.

Gen Z is juggling different income sources, with 46% having side hustles. Results suggest that multiple income streams and managing expenses creates some stress. Over two-thirds (67%) of Gen Z are stressed about their financial situation, while 16% report that they do not have enough to cover their monthly expenses. Based on qualitative interviews, this generation is focused on generating income and saving for short-term needs, while also looking toward the future and retirement.

Twenty-two percent of Gen Z are investing more in the stock market than they were before the pandemic. The study found that they are using investing differently from other generations – primarily for short-term gains and an alternative income source. While only 9% of Gen Z currently owns cryptocurrency, a full 54% plan to invest in crypto in the next five years.

Members of Gen Z want to manage their money well and look to multiple sources for advice. Gen Z is most likely to turn to friends and colleagues for financial advice (31% vs. 15% for Millennials and 17% for Gen X and Boomers), but they also look to financial institutions (21%) and financial advisors (20%). More than any other generation, they are seeking financial tools to build wealth from financial institutions. This generation sees newer tools as a convenient way to address needs, while more traditional providers are seen as trustworthy.

The Logica Research Future of Money Study was conducted online among 1,000 U.S. adults and an augment of 200 older Gen Zers (16-24 years old). The study was conducted April 8-14, 2021.

••• health care research

Understanding priorities

Study highlights desired outcomes of substance use treatment

When it comes to treating substance use challenges, understanding the desired outcomes of treatment programs is critical to success. In order to better understand treatment priorities for individuals and families, Community Catalyst, Faces and Voices of Recovery and the American Society of Addiction Medicine joined forces and gathered 721 responses from individuals and 445 responses from families to identify the most important treatment outcomes. Staying alive topped the list, followed by improving quality of life, reducing harmful substance use, improving mental health, meeting basic needs, increasing self-confidence/self-efficacy and increasing connection to services and support. 

Treatment priorities differed somewhat based on race/ethnicity, with the top five outcomes taking different levels of important and sometimes slipping below an individual’s top five desired outcomes. While the difference exists, the study notes that due to the small sample size further study is needed to verify demographic differences. However, according to the study, 35% of Black/African American respondents said “address issues that come up in daily life” was most important compared to 20% of white respondents and 14% of Hispanic/Latino respondents. Among 25% of white respondents, “stop all drug and alcohol use” was the most important outcome compared to 13% of multiracial respondents. Additionally, this was not a top outcome for any other group. Thirty percent of white respondents also prioritized quality of life, compared to 14% of Black/African American respondents. “Stay alive” was the top outcome across white, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino respondents, but fell in second for multiracial respondents behind “have improved quality of life.”

There were also several outcomes that made the top five in the analysis by race/ethnicity that were not reflected in the top five of the overall sample. These include “take care of my basic needs,” which was third-highest among Black/African American respondents and fourth-highest among Hispanic/Latino respondents; “feel safe in my surroundings,” which was third-highest among Hispanic/Latino respondents; and “develop a recovery support system,” which was fifth-highest among multiracial respondents.

Thought the study points out that more research is needed, analysis of the results did not show significant differences in priorities across socioeconomic status. However, some differences did appear across gender. The top five outcomes overall appear in different priority order by gender and some new outcomes rise to the top, including “take care of my basic needs” for 18% of men responding. Among transgender/nonbinary respondents, 35% selected “develop a recovery support system” and 29% selected “increase housing stability” – though the study notes a small sample size of 17 for this group.

When asked whether their top five priorities changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of respondents said that their top outcomes for treatments had not changed. Of the 20% who chose different results during COVID-19, new priorities included feeling safe in their surroundings, staying alive, improving mental health, increasing connection to recovery supports and taking care of their basic needs.

The study also asked respondents to identify priority outcomes for their family members with substance use challenges. These 445 respondents included some people with substance use challenges themselves and some without. Family members chose similar top five priorities as individuals who reported for themselves but ranked these in a slightly different order. First was “stay alive,” followed by “improve mental health,” “have improved quality of life,” “stop all drug/alcohol use” and “address issues that come up in daily life.”

In focus groups conducted with 53 participants, the research team delved into ways in which treatment services should be changed. Participants prioritized the increased availability of services, especially peer support services and other community services provided by Recovery Community Organizations. Additionally, participants wanted more treatment options that are separate from the criminal justice system in order to provide more options for people to find treatment willingly. 

Participants also recommended making treatment and services more affordable and removing barriers to insurance. Bridging treatment gaps was also highlighted in order to expand care coordination so people can more easily access continuous treatment and services when they need it. During the focus group, the need to have individualized treatment approaches was brought up. Participants said that treatment needs to “meet people where they’re at” and follow harm-reduction approaches. 

Finally, focus group participants noted that trauma is at the core of many people’s substance use and that providing trauma-informed and culturally effective services would achieve better outcomes.

The study was conducted by Community Catalyst, Faces and Voices of Recovery and the American Society of Addiction Medicine and surveyed 839 respondents with “lived experience with substance use challenges, including addiction” across the U.S. Nine focus groups were co-facilitated by Community Catalyst and Faces & Voices of Recovery and involved 52 participants.

••• employment research

Biding time

Job seekers lack the same urgency as employers

It only takes a quick drive through your local business strip to get a sense that every place is hiring. However, this feeling is well-founded, according to an article by Indeed’s Economic Research Director Nick Bunker. Bunker explores the results of an Indeed survey which reveal that, despite high demand for workers, many job seekers say they don’t feel a sense of urgency to get work. However, that may change in the fall, when many respondents say they are likely to pick up the search for work.

three people sitting at table discussing jobs

To help explain these developments, the Indeed Hiring Lab surveyed 5,000 people in the U.S., ages 18-64. The sample included individuals both in and out of the labor force and both employed and jobless workers. Unemployed workers are defined as those who are jobless and actively searching for paid work, either urgently or not urgently. Respondents who were jobless but only passively looking for work or not open to work were not included in the unemployed category but were considered out of the labor force.

The results show that many of the unemployed don’t feel they need to find a job right away but do want to return to work sometime in the months following the time of the study, which occurred in June 2021. Coronavirus is a major factor keeping unemployed workers from stepping up their search activity. Among the unemployed, concern about COVID-19 is the most commonly cited reason for a lack of urgency in looking for work. In the eyes of many job seekers, vaccination against the virus – for themselves, family members, coworkers and customers – is a key milestone to be reached before they will be ready for a new job. What’s more, unemployed workers seem more patient than they otherwise might have been thanks to the financial cushions of savings, employed spouses and enhanced unemployment insurance benefits. Care responsibilities at home are also a big impediment to more intense job searching. Thus, the widespread return of in-person schooling in the fall may spur greater intensity in the job hunt.

While many employers are pushing to hire in order to take advantage of the reopened economy, many workers don’t feel the same sense of importance. In fact, only about 10% of survey respondents said they were urgently looking for a job. Part of the mismatch stems from the fact that most job seekers already have a job and are searching for work at a more relaxed pace. 

However, 54% of unemployed workers said they were actively looking, though even among active searchers there’s little impulse to take a job immediately. More than 20% of urgent job seekers reported they didn’t want to take a new position immediately, while 78% of urgently looking job seekers said the opposite. Fifty-two percent of respondents not in a rush said they wanted to defer a new job at least a month. In total, 31% of all job seekers don’t want to start a job right away.

The survey was conducted by Indeed on May 26-June 3, 2021, and polled 5,000 U.S. adults ages 18-64. 

••• employment research

Under pressure

Workers in U.S. and Canada are stressed yet engaged

mom holding baby while on cell phone working on computerThe pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on working life. The results of this upheaval have often been dramatic and sometimes surprising. According to a study by Gallup, in the U.S. and Canada workers experienced the highest daily stress levels in the world, increasing their daily stress levels by eight percentage points during the pandemic to 57%, compared with 43% globally. Despite these high stress levels, though, U.S. and Canadian employee engagement levels actually rose by two percentage points to 34% regionally compared with 20% globally during the pandemic.

Globally, employee engagement decreased by two percentage points from 2019 to 2020 and the workforce reported higher worry, stress, anger and sadness in 2020 than in the previous year. At the time of the study, Western Europe had the lowest employee engagement levels globally, 11%, with France and Italy faring very poorly compared with the United States and Canada.

In the U.S. and Canada, stress and worry were experienced differently across gender lines, with 62% of working women reporting daily feelings of stress compared with 52% of their male counterparts. Working women worry more than men, with 53% of women reporting daily worry compared with 43% of men. Regionally, North America’s daily levels of worry among workers increased by ten percentage points during the pandemic to 48%, compared with the rest of the world that remained at 41%.

Given hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 as well as lockdowns, closed schools, increased remote work and unemployment, the above outcomes are not surprising. They represent the frustrations and struggles of millions of workers across the planet. Though U.S. and Canadian workers reported lower levels of thriving during the pandemic, dropping by five percentage points to 56%, their thriving levels were still higher than the those in the rest of the working world at 32%.

Employed American and Canadian men reported higher thriving levels (58%) than women (53%), though those findings are not surprising considering the high levels of stress, worry and sadness women experienced during the pandemic as many juggled work with becoming full-time caretakers for children or the elderly at home. 

As employers rethink their workplaces in the future, they have lessons to learn from 2020. Moving forward, employers should understand the influence of employee well-being and employee engagement on workforce resilience. Successful employers need to not only generate profits; they also need to generate thriving employees who are capable of weathering crises today and in the future.

The study was conducted by Gallup and surveyed people 15 years of age and older in more than 160 countries.

••• gaming research

Plugging in

The rise of mobile gaming is here to stay

people playing games on smart phones while sitting in circleAs the pandemic set in early in 2020, people around the world searched for distraction. For some this came in the form of mobile gaming, which experienced a sharp increase in the time following the onset of lockdown. New research from IDC and LoopMe suggests that this trend is here to stay.

The study predicts that 75% of the net rise in mobile gaming activity will remain even after a sense of normalcy is established in the next two years. The survey, which polled 3,850 smartphone users in the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Germany, Brazil and Singapore, asked respondents about their existing gaming activities, as well as their intentions regarding future gameplay time commitments after the pandemic is largely in-hand in their native countries.

In the six countries surveyed, more than two in three smartphone owners reported playing mobile games in recent months and 63% of respondents increased their mobile gameplay time after the pandemic began. Largely due to pandemic effects, the worldwide base of gamers that played on a smartphone or slate tablet monthly jumped 12% in 2020 from 2019, to roughly 2.25 billion.

A correlation was found between increased mobile gameplay time commitments and local pandemic effects, specifically, the per capita COVID-19 death rate. Three in four mobile gamers reported playing to be entertained or just to pass the time, while 4% said they were playing to engage in “safe” virtual social interactions that are supported by live multiplayer games. This notion is reinforced by the fact that multiplayer mobile games outperformed in 2020.

Six percent of today’s mobile gamer community didn’t play prior to the pandemic. These new gamers appeared to skew male and a few years younger in age than the broader base of pre-pandemic mobile gamers. After the pandemic is largely over (which is presumed to be late 2022 in most countries), it appears that 25% of the net increase in mobile gaming activity induced by the pandemic will dissipate and 75% of the net rise will remain indefinitely. This “new normal” will vary substantively by country, however, partly based on the severity of the local pandemic. The rise in mobile gaming has important implications for brands since the study also found that a majority of mobile gamers make critical buying decisions for their households.

The study was conducted by LoopMe and IDC and surveyed 3,850 smartphone users in the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Germany, Brazil and Singapore between April 1-12, 2021.