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What Consumers Want Most from Appliance Technology: Simplicity
May 16, 2012
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"Manufacturers need to use less so-called jargon monoxide and communicate more about the human experience, not just about the object," said Esty Pujadas, partner and director of Ketchum's Global Technology Practice, in response to new survey results from the company.

The results show that simplicity is what people want most from appliances (and other technology like cell phones and home electronics), but 76% of consumers are not satisfied with technology's ability to make their life simpler.

Survey results from 6000 consumers in six countries show how preferences rate in terms of technology like appliances, smartphones, and home electronics:
* 54% wants ease of use
* 46% want technology to simplify their life
* 35% want entertainment
* 11% want technology to "signal who they are to the world"

While consumer technology may be about bigger-better-faster, "What people really want is to understand how all of these devices can get them to their desired experience easily," said Esty Pujadas.

The results show that attitudes about personal technology are overwhelmingly positive, but with a surprising amount of variation by country. One example: 44% of users in China love smartphones compared to just 24% in France.

"The most striking finding to me as an anthropologist was that culture really matters," said cultural anthropologist Emma Gilding, a collaborator with Ketchum on the design of the study and data interpretation. "The dominant narrative is that technology sells itself. But the data shows this just isn't true. The intersection between what people find appealing and the values of their experiences with technology differ profoundly by country and by cultural DNA."

Four kinds of Digital Living "natives" were identified by the report writers:

* Enthusiasts make up 37% of the study's global population. They have a love of technology and will give up simplification for empowerment.
* Infomaniacs rank at 25%. They want access to information and to find new experiences, and this capability is a higher priority to such users than relating better to other people.
* Pragmatists rank at 22%. Such users are not as inclined to love technology, but say it is very helpful in relating better to other people, for getting things done, and for managing health and wellness.
* Disconnects rank at 16%. They are called "noticeably unemotional about technology". Their top priority is simplification, over empowerment and enrichment.

"This way of categorizing users reinforces the importance of the human experience," noted Pujadas. "Rather than look at age or gender or what features they use, this enables companies to make powerful emotional connections by speaking to the experience each type of user wants from the product."

Ketchum Global Research & Analytics conducted the study simultaneously in the United States, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and China.

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