Chorus recently began surveying consumers’ broadband usage on a regular basis. The results make fascinating reading because of the ‘Netflix effect’. Chorus’ Customer Insights Lead Carina Willis says this research is important and provides insights into Kiwis’ changing use of technology.
Last October, Chorus launched a research project into New Zealanders’ behaviour, attitudes and perceptions of broadband. It has been running monthly checks since then into some of the trends around broadband use. Willis says the last time Chorus conducted such a major consumer research project was back in 2012 and it uncovered a real lack of understanding and knowledge around fibre. Some people didn’t even know what fibre was.
But times have changed. Today, Chorus is nearly two thirds of the way through its task of connecting 87 percent of the country to Ultra-Fast Broadband, by 2022 – in partnership with the government – so fibre
is much more familiar to consumers.
“I think people are more accepting and [also] understand what fibre is,” says Willis. “There still is confusion around why fibre is relevant for them, especially with some of those people who use less data and with slightly older generations. So, we become more inclusive in our conversations and move conversation away from speeds towards the personal benefits people can expect.” However, Willis says one great insight from the latest survey results is that fibre really is king.
It had the highest satisfaction rating when compared with VDSL and ADSL, as well as fewer people saying they plan to switch away from it when compared with the previous survey, in 2012.
Chorus’ research also provides the latest data on the rate at which consumers are adopting new technology. Willis says the number of consumers embracing new technologies and services has skyrocketed.
She says there are now far more people streaming television and movies online. The study showed close to half (almost 40 percent) of respondents surveyed consumed media in this way during the past year.
Chorus’ survey also found a more than 50 percent increase in traffic on the network at
9pm – which is prime streaming time for most people. However, Willis says, while this behaviour is common with the younger generations, it’s yet to gain traction with older broadband users.
“This behaviour will filter through to the older age groups as lots of changes in their viewing habits have yet to happen,” she says.
Willis says another key insight coming out of the research is that there are still remarkably different consumer groups whose interests need to be considered.
She says while there is one group of high-use data consumers (these make up 25 percent of those surveyed) who think their data use is only going to grow, there is another group that hasn’t increased its use of technology.
This group makes up about 25 percent of respondents, and they don’t see their data use changing any time soon so don’t see a pressing need to get fibre installed.
“There’s a real mix of consumers who have different needs and different levels of understanding of what fibre can do for them,” says Willis.
“What’s quite interesting is that, as an industry, we’ve been really focused on selling speed, such as ‘ultra-fast’ speed. But we’ve found speed isn’t the key driver for these other groups.
They’re more interested in consistency and reliability. So, we need to start changing the conversation, to help people find what’s right for them in terms that they understand.” Willis says the research results from its ongoing surveys will help Chorus craft its marketing, education and customer experience strategies for these different groups of consumers.
But, perhaps most interestingly, as technology moves forward at a rapid pace, Chorus will be at the forefront helping track people’s evolving relationship with technology, through its ongoing research.
“Technology use is only going to get bigger,” says Willis. “But it’s one of those areas where you don’t know what people are going to be doing in a year’s time – Netflix came and has created a lot of behavioural change, for example. So, we want to find out what’s going to be the next Netflix?”
“There's a real mix of consumers who have different needs and different levels of understanding of what fibre can do for them.”
How Chorus crunches the numbers
Chorus collects its data through its research partner, Colmar Brunton. It tries to get a representative view of the population through this means. People using different technologies are equally targeted.
The major research study Chorus conducted last October involved around 1000 respondents filling out a 25-minute online survey. Since then about 300 people have been interviewed every month.
Those surveyed are asked a number of questions, including how satisfied they are with their internet connection: the likelihood of their changing technology; the different types of technology they use in their household; their attitudes to broadband; and what activities they engage in online, as well as what their perception is of Chorus as a brand.
The data collected is then divided up and filtered down into specific demographics, and used to get a better understanding of what drives people’s broadband choices, as well as what the barriers are stopping them from using fibre.