••• technology research  

Yes to biometric authentication

Password repeaters fear cybersecurity threats

A majority (57%) of U.S. respondents reported being excited about passwordless technology, a number that mirrors the global response (56%). According to password management solutions company Bitwarden, of the U.S. respondents using passwordless authentication, 40% are or would consider using biometrics such as facial recognition, fingerprint and voice to represent “something you are” and 33% would prefer a PIN, name or word for “something you know.” The “something you are” method is more prominent globally, with 50% of respondents utilizing or considering it.

U.S. respondents who said they were not excited about passwordless authentication cited a few qualms. Fifty-five percent prefer to use their memory over their fingerprint or face ID and 36% were worried about their fingerprint or face ID being used against them.

Fifty-four percent of Americans rely on their memories to manage passwords for websites, apps and services at home or at work – up from 49% in 2022. This might help explain why 58% regularly reset their passwords, including 12% who do so every day. To manage passwords, 34% use pen and paper, 30% use a password management software, 23% document passwords on a computer, 19% on e-mail and 3% say they do it another way. 

Nineteen percent of respondents admit to having used the word “password” or another common variation of the word as their password. Seventy-five percent use passwords that are at least nine characters in length and 69% use two-factor authentication for work accounts and 70% for personal accounts.

There are some vulnerabilities regarding password repetition. Twenty-two percent have been reusing the same password for more than a decade in the U.S. Around a quarter of U.S. respondents (26%) report being affected by a data breach in the past 18 months. While data breaches may not be preventable, they tend to have a ripple effect for individuals who reuse their passwords on different platforms or websites. Nearly all (93%) of Americans are concerned about cybersecurity threats. In the U.S., almost three-fourths (71%) manage passwords for 10 or more sites – a number that has particular resonance when considering the percentage of Americans who rely on memory to manage passwords.

The survey also looked at habits when it comes to sharing passwords for digital apps and streaming. Despite some companies cracking down on password sharing this year, nearly half (47%) of U.S. respondents, and 36% of global respondents, say they still share passwords for TV streaming services. That’s higher than U.S. respondents who share passwords for social media apps (31%), banking apps (28%) and music streaming apps (31%).

The survey also probed password managers in the workplace. Last year, 32% of Americans said they were required to use a password manager at work. This year tracked similarly, with 31% reporting workplace usage, a number that was again higher than the global average of 23%. Of the respondents required to use password managers, 91% reported that their employer provided the software.

Bitwarden’s World Password Day survey was conducted by Propeller Insights. It surveyed over 400 Americans and 2,000 internet users globally on how they view and manage their own password security.

••• shopper insights

Shifting expectations

Consumers crave personalized experiences

The proliferation of retail channels, formats, platforms and intermediaries has fragmented the shopping landscape over the past few years. Consumer financial services company Synchrony found that moving forward, there will be a focus on developing more connected experiences across channels, brands, online and in stores.

Of the shoppers surveyed, 67% believe a world where multiple brands created joint offers would enhance their experiences across channels. Forty-two percent would be likely to register or participate in future experiences where brands offer a range of connected shopping options such as an app that connects a concert ticket purchase to customer’s calendar and suggests an outfit for the event and where to buy it. Fifty-two percent say they would be interested in an in-store engagement where the associate leverages crowdsourced ratings combined with customer preferences to deliver recommendations in real-time to their phone.

In the future, shoppers would like to reduce the range of available products presented to them. Sixty-two percent believe that their shopping experience would be simpler if stores offered fewer choices and by 2030, 81% expect to see a world where hyper-personalization or “just for me” is rolled out. Fifty-five percent expressed an intent to use on-site personalization services if they were available. 

While shoppers have always cared about convenience, today’s shoppers are more concerned with the flexibility, access and speed of their shopping experience. The act of shopping has become and will continue to move away from being an isolated activity, instead being embedded into other activities such as scrolling through social media, gaming or going for a walk. Sixty-four percent believe that in the future, shopping will not be a solo activity and instead brands will reach them through separate but linked activities (e.g., social media activity linked to geolocation recommendations while out on a walk, metaverse brand interaction directs shoppers to the nearest physical location with tailored recommendations). 

Utilizing smart carts that integrate seamless shopping and checkouts can deliver enhanced value to shoppers. Sixty-seven percent of shoppers agreed that smart carts would enhance their lives, while 75% believe that smart carts would be a possibility and could be popular over the next seven years.

Synchrony partnered with Ipsos Strategy3 to survey 1,000 consumers in the U.S.

••• restaurant research

Feeling the crunch

Dining experience on the decline

A shattered white plate on a pink background.

As consumers return to restaurants, they are feeling the strain of labor shortages across all types of establishments. Restaurant software and solutions provider HungerRush found that most consumers (51%) feel that independent restaurants have been impacted the most by not having enough staff to take orders, cook food and handle deliveries – followed by major chains (36%) and mid-sized regional restaurants (14%). With these shortages, friction points are increasing in the dining experience with longer wait times to receive food (33%), diminished customer experience due to overstressed staff (32%) and longer wait times just to place an order (17%) being among the top three pain points.

These points directly relate to the roles in which consumers felt were the most understaffed which included servers, counter staff (including drive-thru, phone and cashiers) and cooks. Creating an experience customers enjoy is crucial for restaurants, as 39% of people are likely to write a negative review after visiting a restaurant suffering from staffing issues, long wait times and order inaccuracy.

Consumers prioritize speed when placing an order with 91% saying the maximum amount of time they are willing to wait is three minutes or less. Twenty-five percent and 19% expect to place an order in less than two minutes and one minute respectively, demonstrating just how critical speed to order is to today’s consumers.

When customers call a restaurant to place an order and can tell based on loud background noise that it is hectic, it impacts their overall experience. Fifty-seven percent of consumers aren’t confident that a busy store will take their order correctly if they need to personalize or modify regular menu items. Moreover, 19% of consumers actively avoid making any order modifications if they can tell a restaurant is busy in the background.

Utilizing tools such as technology to adapt their models and decrease or eliminate wait times and improve order accuracy can help during these tough times. In fact, 72% of consumers said they would opt to use an automated phone bot to place an order depending on the situation.

The ebb and flow of seasonal staffing also creates more points of friction in the consumer experience when increased order inaccuracy (28%), longer times to order food (24%) and loss of personal connection with seasonal staff (12%) are felt by consumers.

This survey was commissioned by HungerRush and conducted by Dynata in May 2023 with 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older.

••• shopper insights

Inflation hits back-to-school shoppers

Nonessential purchases placed on back burner

Paper airplanes made of dollar bills.

Higher prices are weighing on many K-12 families as they prepare for the upcoming school year. In addition to a 23.7% increase in the cost of school supplies in the past two years (per the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index), three in 10 (31%) parents say their households are in a worse financial situation than last year and half (51%) expect the economy to weaken in the next six months. According to business consulting and services company Deloitte, back-to-school spending is expected to decline to $31.2 billion this year.

Parents expect to spend $597 per student in grades K-12, down 10% from last year. Among K-12 parents, 34% are postponing nonessential back-to-school purchases, up from 31% in 2022. They are prioritizing school supplies while pulling back on technology and clothing. Spending on school supplies is expected to increase 20% year-over-year to $7.1 billion. Parents also plan to reduce spending on apparel by 14% year-over-year. Technology spending is set to decline 13% this year, as many parents purchased needed technology supplies during the pandemic to meet virtual or hybrid learning needs.

Over two-thirds of parents (68%) expect to spend the same or less on back-to-school year-over-year citing inflation as the reason why some plan to spend less and why others plan to spend more. Among parents spending less, 51% attribute it to reduced disposable income (up from 45% in 2022), while 75% of those spending more point to increased prices (up from 60% in 2022). More than three-quarters (77%) plan to use debit cards and/or cash for their back-to-school purchases this season, up from 72% in 2022.

Some parents plan to get an early jump on back-to-school shopping this year, with 59% of spending expected to occur by the end of July. Thirty-five percent believe better deals occur earlier in the season vs. 26% who believe they occur later. Forty-nine percent will research online before purchasing back-to-school products in the physical store and 55% will research retailers’ return policies before buying items.

Consumers overwhelmingly cite mass merchants (80%) as their most preferred retail format, followed by online retailers (60%), off-price retailers (33%) and dollar stores (33%). Forty-six percent of shoppers plan to spend most of their budget at mass merchants. Only 34% of respondents say they often find lower prices online. As a result, 74% plan to shop in-store vs. 56% who plan to shop online for most back-to-school shopping. Two in 10 shoppers are undecided about whether to purchase back-to-school items in-store or online. Among online shoppers, 88% are willing to meet a minimum order value to receive free shipping. On average, consumers are willing to spend $32 on a minimum order value for free shipping. Six in 10 (59%) restrict their shopping to retailers with free returns and 68% prefer returning items in-store to avoid paying return fees.

As consumers look to protect their wallets, the percentage of parents planning to buy sustainable back-to-school products is down from 50% in 2022 to 35% this year (although slightly higher among Millennials at 38%). Nearly half (47%) of those who won't purchase sustainable products say they are not affordable. However, sustainable back-to-school shoppers spend 36% more than others.

Despite keeping an eye on their budget, many parents are willing to splurge for the right reasons. They say their child can convince them to splurge on clothing (57%) and tech products (56%).

Deloitte's back-to-school survey was conducted online using an independent research panel between May 26 and June 1 and surveyed 1,212 parents with at least one child attending school in grades K-12 this fall.

••• real estate research 

Abandoning the traditional home-buying process

Millennials seek homeownership

Coins and a play house with a chart in the back.

Higher home prices and low inventory aren't deterring the younger generations from seeking homeownership. Digital mortgage services provider SurveyLink found that despite shifting market conditions, more than half (52%) of all respondents plan to consider buying a home. Of those, 61% are Millennials, 25% are Gen X, 12% are Gen Z and 2% are Baby Boomers.

Homeowners, especially Millennials, plan to take advantage of the increasing value of their homes. Forty-four percent of respondents plan to take out a home equity loan this year. Of those, nearly half (49%) of Millennials say they are likely to take out a home equity loan compared to 44% of Gen X, 41% of Gen Z and 12% of Baby Boomers. Seventy-three percent plan to use the money to make home improvements while 20% plan to use it to pay off debt including student loans.

Some home buyers however are abandoning the process altogether. Forty-nine percent say they considered buying a new home in the past 12 months but ultimately decided against it. Of those, Millennials led all generations at 58% compared to Gen X (24%) Gen Z (13%) and Baby Boomers (4%). Over half of the respondents (56%) believe the options were too expensive and 48% of those in the group said high mortgage rates were a main factor for pausing their home buying search.

While traditional home-buying methods continue to be used, respondents are considering alternative paths to homeownership. Forty percent would consider buying a home at auction but haven’t done so yet. Of those, Gen X ranked the highest among all demographics at 46% compared to 39% of Millennials, 29% of Gen Z and 30% of Baby Boomers. Fifty percent of people considering purchasing a home at auction would use it as a primary residence, 23% would use it for rent income and 20% would fix and flip it.

More homebuyers want to leverage technology to improve the home-buying process. Convenience and ease of use (63%) and saving time (59%) prove to be the biggest benefits of using technology in the buying process, across age and gender. While 41% of Baby Boomers say technology did not play a role in their mortgage process, 77% say convenience and ease of use was the top benefit of using technology compared to 65% of Millennials, 65% of Gen X and 42% of Gen Z.

A combined 68% of respondents say they are “very willing” or “willing” to submit videos or photos of their homes for a virtual inspection, compared to a combined 13% who say they are “not very willing” or “not willing at all.”

The 2023 ServiceLink State of Homebuying Report survey was completed online among a panel of respondents who purchased a home or tried to purchase a home in the past three years. A total of 1,000 respondents 18 years of age and older completed the survey and interviewing was conducted by Sago from January 7-13.