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March 2015 Trends Tracker

Trends Tracker


Click here to download the report (.pdf)


Summary of Findings

  • Respondents have been trying out digital and mobile wallets, but widespread adoption of these services will not occur until consumers can easily use and log in to services at numerous retail locations and without fearing security breaches.
  • Respondents are more satisfied with Internet service from wireless carriers than from cable companies.
  • Our survey centers on true over-the-top TV (OTT) use, including “cord cheaters,” who are not captured in other OTT statistics that just track subscription numbers. We found that cord cutting has continued to gain momentum and will benefit Inc.’s (AMZN) Amazon Instant Video and DISH Network Corp.’s (DISH) new Sling TV. Still, some respondents said they will not cut the cord because they are satisfied with their current cable service, receive the service as part of a bundle, or do not have other services or access to specific shows available in their areas.
  • T-Mobile US Inc.’s (TMUS) low rates and payment of other carriers’ termination fees have resonated with consumers and could catapult the company past Sprint Corp. (S) and into third place sooner than expected.
  • One in 10 respondents would use a grocery delivery service if available in their area.



Welcome to Blueshift Research’s and SurveyMonkey’s ninth edition of the Trends Tracker. This monthly research survey tracks the most pressing topics affecting U.S. consumers as well as business and investment theses. We monitor trends to see how respondents’ opinions evolve and frequently update survey questions with new issues that emerge from our research and observations.

The March Trends Tracker comprises 1,141 respondents who represent a general sample of the U.S. public. SurveyMonkey utilizes Census data to balance respondents by gender and age so that the sample aligns with the U.S. population. To keep this document as current and as focused as possible, we have made many changes this month. First, we narrowed our focus to 14 topics. Next, some topics now have open-ended or single-answer questions to draw out more details. Finally, we will be rotating most questions on a quarterly basis.



1) Respondents are cutting back on digital and mobile wallet usage based on inconvenience, forgotten passwords, and lack of acceptance at retail locations.

Digital and mobile wallet use has decreased during the past six months because of a lack of acceptance at brick-and-mortar locations, other quicker payment methods, forgotten passwords and money balances, no signal or Wi-Fi, and faulty applications. Security also is a big issue for mobile wallets. A recent study found that only 1% of consumers thought mobile wallets were the most secure payment form. Respondents ages 18 to 29 (millennials) are the mostly likely to use mobile wallets, but use is down in all age groups compared with September.

Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Pay will be integrated into the new Apple Watch, is available to use in 700,000 locations, and will be accepted in all locations taking credit cards by Oct. 1, 2015. By that date, EMV machines will be compatible with NFC payments based on a law that President Obama signed late last year. Meanwhile, eBay Inc.’s (EBAY) PayPal and Dwolla were the first two digital wallets added to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005930) is entering the market by buying LoopPay and incorporating the system into its phones and tablets, and Google Inc. (GOOG/GOOGL) has struck an agreement to integrate its Google Wallet into Android phones across the platforms of AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and T-Mobile. It also purchased technology from recently closed Softcard.

 Infographic 1

  • The number of respondents using digital or mobile wallets dropped 6.4 percentage points compared with the previous six months, but those who just signed up and have started using the technology remained consistent at 1.6%.
  • Respondents ages 18 to 29 still are the most likely to adopt mobile or digital wallets, but all age groups have lessened their use of these services compared with six months ago.


What is the biggest issue with using a digital or mobile wallet? (Comments from survey respondents)

  • Additional fees (PayPal).
  • It is inconvenient and a multiple-step process.
  • Remembering passwords to log into the service each time.
  • Difficulty with both readers and apps.
  • NFC chips kill a smartphone’s battery.
  • Not widely accepted in brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Does not work without signal or Wi-Fi (Google Wallet).
  • Too much time to move money from bank account to digital or mobile wallet and vice-versa.
  • Making sure there is money in the digital or mobile wallet.



2) Respondents are more satisfied with Internet from wireless carriers than cable companies.

Respondents were offered another response option this month: not having an Internet provider. Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and AT&T remained in the top two spots but received fewer mentions this month, but Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and Verizon received more mentions. Almost half of respondents reported being extremely or very satisfied with their current provider, particularly Verizon and AT&T. Comcast and Time Warner had the lowest satisfaction ratings of the top four. The FCC has again paused the decision to allow or deny the merger between Comcast and Time Warner and between AT&T and DirecTV (DTV). Google may have a hard time adding new customers as it recently raised its monthly rates by $10. AT&T announced it would match Google’s Internet speeds and prices, but would charge an additional $30 to subscribers wanting to avoid streaming commercials. The FCC’s ruling on net neutrality may result in higher rates for Internet subscribers.

 Infographic 2 Internet Provider

  • 22.4% have Comcast as their Internet provider, a 1.3 percentage-point decrease month to month, followed by AT&T (14.3%), down 0.4 percentage points; Time Warner Cable (13.2%), up 2.4 percentage points; and Verizon (10.4%), up 1.5 percentage points.

Infographic 2b

  • 45.8% are extremely or very satisfied with their Internet service; only 7.4% were not at all satisfied.
  • When filtering for the top four companies, we found that 60.9% of respondents were very or extremely satisfied with Verizon service, 48.7% were very or extremely satisfied with AT&T, 43% were very or extremely satisfied with Comcast, and 40% are very or extremely satisfied with Time Warner.



3) Cord cutting continues to benefit Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu and Sling TV. Some respondents are hanging onto their pay-TV service for specific shows, out of satisfaction, or because of the lack of other options.

The number of respondents using pay-TV continues to decrease for both basic and add-on services throughout all age groups. Still, some said they will keep pay-TV because they like the service, they watch specific programs unavailable elsewhere, they have a bundled plan, they have no other option, or they believe streaming services are not yet on par with pay-TV. Those cutting the cord have increased their use of Netflix Inc. (NFLX), Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu the most. This month we added Sling TV to the mix as it recently became available and already had 100,000 subscribers in its first month. CBS Corp.’s (CBS) CEO Les Moonves recently stated that its service has more subscribers than Sling TV, while our survey found CBS All Access to have roughly 50% more users than Sling TV.

One possible threat to OTT services is the emergence of “cord cheaters,” who log in with someone else’s password and already occupy 25.5% of Sling TV users. This could be the reason behind our report’s higher rate of people using these services. For example, Nielsen has reported that 40% of households subscribe to a streaming service, while we have found the figure to be closer to 68%.

We have seen growing interest in Amazon Instant Video, over Hulu Plus. Nielsen found double the number of subscribers for Amazon Instant Video than for Hulu Plus, and said Amazon was roughly 35% that of Netflix’s subscribership, close to our 41% estimate. Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) HBO Now will enter the market in April for $15 each month and will be added as part of our survey.

 Infographic 3 Paid TV-Recovered


Do you use a pay-TV service (cable, satellite, telecom) in your household?

  • The number of respondents using pay-TV services decreased 6.2 percentage points quarter to quarter.
  • The number of respondents who have never had pay-TV services increased 6.7 percentage points quarter to quarter, and also increased in all age groups, led by those ages 18 and 29.
  • The number of respondents with pay-TV and add-on services decreased quarter to quarter across all age groups.
  • Respondents ages 20 to 44 or 60 and older reported a higher rate of pay-TV cancellation compared with December.


Why have you not canceled your pay-TV service? (Comments from survey respondents)

  • Using it and liking it.
  • OTT services do not work with all devices.
  • Receive an old promotional rate that is cheap.
  • Specific programs available only on pay-TV services.
  • Local channels.
  • Part of a bundled service, and possibly a higher price for Internet service upon cancellation.
  • No bandwidth available in a certain area.
  • Comes with renting a property or someone else pays for it.
  • Streaming services are not yet as good as pay-TV.
  • Contracted obligations.
  • Real-time programming.
  • Convenient and easy to use.
  • Do not know how to use alternatives.

inforgraphic 4 Streaming A

Infographic 4 Streaming B

  • 49.1% use Netflix, a 4.4 percentage-point jump quarter to quarter. Respondents’ use dropped 2.7 percentage points to 31.9% for Google’s YouTube and rose 3.9 percentage points to 20.4% for Amazon Instant Video.
  • 0.9% adopted Sling TV in its first month of availability.
  • Younger respondents are using Netflix, Hulu, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go the most, while Amazon Instant Video is used primarily by those 30 to 44 years old. Sling TV is popular mostly among those 18 to 29 or above 60 years old.
  • Households with incomes under $24,999 or above $150,000 are adopting streaming TV services the most.



4) T-Mobile picks up momentum through lower prices and the payment of others’ termination fees.

Use of Verizon and AT&T dropped compared with six months ago while T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular and U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) have picked up more customers. Respondents were most likely to switch carriers for a lower rate, a lack of termination fees, better coverage and service, faster data, a free phone, specific unlimited services, and access to another carrier in the area. Lower prices and the payment of other providers’ termination fees have been T-Mobile’s calling card and have added 1.5 million subscribers in the latest quarter—half a million more than AT&T and 1.7 million more than Sprint, which lost 220,000 customers. T-Mobile boasts the lowest prices out of the major competitors, followed by AT&T, Sprint and finally Verizon. T-Mobile also is offering free upgrades to random customers from April 1 through the end of 2015. Sprint is taking a page out of T-Mobile’s book by offering to pay all termination costs to consumers who switch to its network.

 inforgraphic 5 Service Provider

  • 34.3% have Verizon for their wireless carrier, a 1.4 percentage-point decrease compared with six months ago.
  • 25.7% have AT&T, a 6 percentage-point drop compared with six month ago.
  • 10.8% use T-Mobile, a 2.8 percentage-point jump compared with six months ago. Two other companies that rose over the same six-month period were Consumer Cellular, up almost 1 percentage point, and U.S. Cellular, up 1.8 percentage points.

What would make you switch wireless carriers? (Comments from survey respondents)

  • Better coverage and service
  • Cheaper price
  • No contract
  • Lack of termination fees
  • Faster data
  • Free phone
  • Nothing grandfathered in with cheaper plan
  • Flexible plans
  • Access to other carriers



5) Local grocery stores dominate the grocery aisle. One in 10 consumers would be very or extremely likely to use a grocery delivery service.

Respondents still primarily shop for groceries at local grocery stores, but their use of such locations has declined compared with six months. Specialty stores and big-box retailers attract younger consumers, while local grocery stores attract an older demographic. Big-box retailers appeal to lower-income households, while higher-income households use specialty stores the most. Local grocery stores attract every income level. Kroger Co. (KR) is improving its organics and natural food sections with hopes of surpassing Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) in two years. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is continuing to decrease its prices to attract more customers.

Grocery delivery was appealing to roughly half of our respondents, with one in 10 reporting to be very or extremely likely to use such services. 3.6% of respondents already do so, particularly those who are younger or with household incomes of $50,000 to $149,999. Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) already is seeing the benefits from growing its delivery service sector and is expanding its curbside pickup option at locations in Arizona and Alabama. Other companies taking notice and adding to the competition are Good Eggs, GrocerKey Express, Instacart and The Milk Man.

Where do you shop for most of your groceries?

  • 60% use local grocery stores for most their groceries, a 1.2 percentage-point decrease from six months ago. Big-box stores and specialty stores rose in popularity, up 1.6 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.
  • Younger respondents, specifically ages 30 to 44, and those with higher incomes are the primary users of specialty stores.
  • Older respondents and those making more than $24,999 use local grocery stores. Respondents with incomes of $24,999 saw a 9.4 percentage-point decline in their use of such stores.
  • Younger respondents were the most likely to shop for groceries at big-box retailers, but those ages 30 to 60 have increased their use of this larger stores compared with six months ago. Lower-income households are the primary users of big-box retailers for groceries.

How likely would you be to use a grocery delivery service if one was available in your area?

  • 50.9% would likely use grocery delivery; 9.3% are very or extremely likely, and 3.6% already use the service.
  • Younger respondents and those with household incomes of $50,000 to $149,999 are the most likely to use a grocery delivery service.



6) Facebook usage slides, but the site has expanded its lead in social media ad-related shopping.

Facebook remains the most frequently used social media platform, but respondents’ use of the site has declined quarter to quarter, specifically among millennials and those older than 60. Meanwhile, teens continue to abandon Facebook.

Still, Facebook was the top social media site from which respondents have purchased ad-related items. Also, Facebook bought TheFind, a shopping search engine that compares prices across multiple online marketplaces. The acquisition will allow Facebook to have more accurate retargeted ads.

Pinterest is the second most frequently used social media site from which consumers buy products. Pinterest’s ads generate a 30% larger reach than other social media sites’, and could help it reach a possible evaluation of $11 billion. The company is trying out animated pins along with new ad targeting services.

Social media ads were most effective among respondents ages 30 to 44 and those with household incomes above $150,000 or below $24,999.

Which social media platform do you use the most?

  • 55.3% use Facebook the most, a 2 percentage-point decrease quarter to quarter. Facebook is used mostly by those ages 30 to 60, but has lost momentum among respondents ages 18 to 29 or older than 60.
  • Facebook’s Instagram primarily was used by our youngest respondents but has gained ground among those ages 30 to 44.
  • Twitter Inc. (TWTR) is used mostly by younger respondents. Usage has increased quarter to quarter among those ages 18 to 29 and those 45 to 60.
  • LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) is most popular among older respondents, but use has fallen quarter to quarter in all age groups except those 30 to 44 years old.
  • Google+ is mostly used by those older than 60 but has seen greater use among those 18 to 29 years old.


Have you bought any products through a social media ad?

  • 14.5% have bought a product through a social media ad, a 2.1 percentage-point jump compared with December. Facebook (10.5%) and Pinterest (2.2%) are the top social media sites through which respondents have made a purchase.
  • Respondents ages 30 and 44 and those with household incomes above $150,000 or below $24,999 are the most likely to buy a product through social media ads.



7) Samsung inches closer to Apple’s top smartphone spot.

Apple’s iPhone remains the top smartphone among respondents, but the number of users declined compared with six months ago in all age groups and in income levels except those making $25,000 to $49,999. At the same time Samsung experienced some growth among those making less than $24,999 or above $150,000. This may be due to the high- and low-end phones Samsung has spread across the market. Preorders for Samsung’s newest phones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, already have surpassed their predecessor, and contain twice the storage as Apple’s entry-level iPhone.


Who made the smartphone you currently own?

  • Apple’s iPhone remains the most adopted smartphone. It is owned by 34.1% of respondents, but this represents a 1.9 percentage-point decline compared with the last six months. iPhone adoption has declined in all age groups and in all income levels except those making $25,000 to $49,999. Households with higher incomes still favor the iPhone.
  • The number of respondents with Samsung smartphones rose 1.5 percentage points compared with the previous six months to reach 24.6%. Households making up to $24,999 and above $150,000 increased their adoption of Samsung smartphones during the past six months.



8) Many respondents do not trust any review site.

In past surveys, some respondents have used the “other” answer to voice a lack of trust in any consumer review site. Based on this, we added this option as a direct response in this month’s edition; doing so revealed that roughly one-third of respondents do not trust any review sites. This lack of trust also is displayed in the lawsuit against Angie’s List Inc. (ANGI) for profiting off of review manipulation, and in the documentary discussing Yelp Inc.’s (YELP) bullying practices. Yelp is doubling its marketing push in 2015 to $20 million to combat its negative stigma.


Those respondents who do trust review sites, particularly those who are younger, named Yelp, followed by Google. Older respondents said they trusted Angie’s List or no site. Facebook was trusted primarily by respondents ages 30 to 60.


Which review site do you trust the most for consumer reviews on merchants?

  • 32.1% do not trust any form of online reviews.
  • 22.8% trust Yelp, while 20.9% trust Google.
  • Younger respondents trust Yelp and Google, while older respondents trust Angie’s List or no consumer reviews at all. Facebook reviews were trusted the most by those ages 30 to 60.



9) Use of 3D printers should continue to rise as prices fall.

One in 20 respondents has used a 3D printer, an increase from February. Those ages 30 to 44 are the primary users of 3D printers. One in 10 respondents is likely to buy a 3D printer for less than $400 in the next 12 months. This was particularly true of those with incomes below $24,999 or above $150,000, much like those who already own 3D printers. According to IDTechEx, roughly half of 3D printers are being bought not by consumers but by companies because of the relatively high prices, usually around $2,000. However, sales of 3D printers below $500 have been solely to consumers.


Meanwhile, more lower-cost 3D printers are emerging on Kickstarter, such as the metal Rhino 3D printer from Monirad Robotics Inc. Also, Stratasys Ltd.’s (SSYS) MakerBot just launched a Starter Lab, which is a conglomerate of MakerBot products and training guides mostly targeted at businesses and schools.


Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) CEO Carl Bass views the 3D printing phenomenon as overhyped and said consumers would be better off using tools like Autodesk’s 123D and 3D printing companies like Shapeways.


Have you used a 3D printer in the last three months?

  • 5.3% have used a 3D printer, a 1.3 percentage-point increase month to month.
  • Respondents ages 30 to 44 and with household incomes below $24,999 or above $150,000 are the primary users of 3D printers.


If you could get a 3D printer for your home for less than $400, how likely would you be to buy one in the next 12 months?

  • 11.1% would be very or extremely likely to buy a 3D printer for their homes if it were less than $400. Those with household incomes of less than $24,999 or more than $150,000 were the most likely to make such a purchase.



10) One-third of respondents are likely to buy an insect-based product, but growth rate is sluggish.

Roughly one-third of respondents are likely to buy an insect-based product, a slight increase quarter to quarter, particularly among those ages 30 to 44 and those making between $25,000 to $49,999 or more than $150,000. Supplies of edible insects are trailing demand, but Tiny Farms is trying to develop industrial-scale insect raising to balance the sector. More than 30 companies with insect-based products are on the U.S. market. Chapul is an insect-based protein bar that is carried by Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. (NGVC) and will enter Whole Foods soon. Cricket-based protein bars are viewed as the gateway product for the edible-insect industry.


How likely are you to buy a product with an insect-based ingredient?

  • 32% are likely to buy an insect-based product, up 0.6 percentage points quarter to quarter. 4.6% of respondents said they are extremely or very likely to buy an insect-based product, up 0.5 percentage points.
  • Younger (particularly 30 to 44 years old) and lower-income respondents are the most likely to buy an insect-based product.



11) Drone sales are minimal in the United States but could see a boost from overseas buyers.

Only 3% of respondents own or have used a drone, down slightly since February. Those 30 to 44 years old or with household incomes below $24,999 are the most likely to own or use a drone. A Pew Research study found 63% of U.S. citizens are against personal and commercial drones being allowed to fly freely. FAA regulations also could hold back sales, but the U.S. government recently eased its policy on exporting military and civilian drones, creating a market for such makers as AeroVironment Inc. (AVAV) and General Atomics. DJI currently benefits from sales of its lower-cost Phantom line, and is set to bring in over $1 billion this year. GoPro Inc. (GPRO) also has been a beneficiary of the drone market as many of its customers attach its cameras to their devices; also, the company is rumored to be working on its own drone.


Do you own a drone?

  • 3% own or use a drone, down 0.9 percentage points month to month.
  • Respondents ages 30 and 44 remain the most likely to own or use a drone.
  • Respondents with household incomes below $24,999 were the top users of drones, a dramatic shift from last month when those making more than $150,000 were the primary adopters.



12) Four of 10 would buy a product that is better for the environment over a cheaper product.

Almost four out of 10 respondents are very or extremely likely to buy a product that is better for the environment rather than a cheaper product, which represents a slight increase from February. Older respondents and those on either end of the household income-level spectrum are the most likely to buy a product that is better for the environment over a cheaper one.


How likely are you to buy a product that is better for the environment rather than another product that is slightly cheaper?

  • 38.1% are very or extremely likely to buy a product that is better for the environment over a cheaper alternative, a 2.1 percentage-point increase month to month.
  • Older respondents and those making more than $150,000 or between $25,000 to $49,999 were the most likely to buy a product that is better for the environment rather than a cheaper product.



13) Top apps: Minecraft, police scanners, Trivia Crack and Diamond Digger Saga

In the last month, which apps have you installed that were recommended to you by a friend or family member?



14) Top trends: vegan restaurants, food trucks, mobile payments, and leaving Facebook

What is the most interesting new trend you have seen in the last month?

  • #thedress
  • Cannabis industry in the Pacific Northwest
  • Sustainable products
  • Real estate market rising
  • Smart watches (Apple Watch, Fitbit)
  • Food trucks
  • Virtual reality
  • Vegan restaurants
  • 3D printing
  • Falling price of LED lightbulbs
  • Workout apps
  • Mobile payments
  • People moving from iPhones to Android
  • Man buns
  • People deleting Facebook
  • Flip phones
  • People denying climate change
  • Moving away from cable
  • Organic vegetables
  • Online medical services
  • Retail companies paying their workers more




Report analysis by Mason Rudy.