Phew! We've reached the end of the first day of our Consumer Forum, here in Dallas, Texas and it's been a busy one – our attendees have had the opportunity to attend over 20 presentations including keynotes, track sessions and theatre presentations from Forrester analysts and industry experts. Some of my highlights:

  • Carrie Johnson, VP and Research Director at Forrester, kicked us off by expanding on our theme – Keeping Ahead Of Tomorrow’s Customer. She showed (with the help of Homer Simpson J) how important it is to understand how consumers have changed – become multi-channel, multi-taskers – in a short period of time, and how vital it is that we understand how the next 10 years are going to change them further, especially in today’s economic climate where maximizing the power of every marketing dollar spent is more important than ever.
  • Then the mighty James McQuivey, VP and Principal Analyst, took to the stage, Forresterites heaving a collective sigh of relief at the sight – he's been suffering from laryngitis, and it's been touch or go whether his voice would return in time. But it did, and in true McQuivey style, he wowed the audience by revealing some new research into how to satisfy consumers. What do people really need? Well, our research shows that there are four universal human needs – Connection, Uniqueness, Comfort and Variety. We all have all four; they vary in importance for each of us, and vary over time, and understanding your target audience's needs profile will be vital going forward in order to satisfy those needs. He also introduced the Convenience Quotient, a way of figuring out how well your product/service meets your consumers' needs profile. To read more about this and see the first example of this in action, I would recommend James' recent report "Competitive Product Ranking: Picking A Winning Set-Top Box". We'll also be writing a lot more about how to measure and meet these universal needs over the next few months, so stay tuned.
  • After James, Cameron Death gave the first industry keynote. He's the VP, Digital Content at NBC Universal, and gave some great insight into how they are dealing with the multiple issues facing them; the collapsing market share of the major networks, the increasing time-shifting of TV viewing (he shared that an amazing 34% of people who watch The Office watch it time-shifted) and the growing tendency of consumers to multitask – watch TV, use the internet, text each other etc, simultaneously. So they are working hard on adapting to accommodate these wired consumers – by developing online experiences around top properties such as Heroes, plus unique content pieces using their TV stars, branded by advertisers (they call them "podbusters"). He also shared news of a very new venture called Gemini Division, a show that consists of 50 webisodes starring Rosario Dawson that was made in partnership with marketers such as Microsoft and Acura. This has only been running for 6 weeks, so too early for results, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more information on that as it goes on.
  • Tim Suther, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing Services, Acxiom emphasized the massive wastage – he estimates over $100bn – there is in marketing spent badly executed thanks to old-fashioned thinking. For him, a real understanding of your customers is key, and marketing measurement and incentives need to be properly aligned to incentivize the right way of thinking.
  • Josh Bernoff, a name no doubt familiar to everyone reading this, had a post lunch spot talking to a standing-room-only track session about our new data on consumers' social media activities – the 2008 Social Technographics profiles. In the US, around 75% of the online population are active in social media, for example, whereas 93% are in South Korea if you want to see more of this great data, then do hop over to, where there is a tool you can use to take a look at the technographics profiles of different demographics. He also shared some great examples of how brands are reaching out to consumers using social media (again, the Groundswell blog has over 100 more examples, all entries to the Groundswell Awards, the winners of which will be revealed tomorrow…!)

And that was just day one….we're back, same place, same time, tomorrow to hear from more experts, including Forrester's very own Lisa Bradner and William Band, as well as industry luminaries such as Daniel P. Garton from American Airlines and Lisa Sherman from MTV. If you can't make it, join the conversation on Twitter and Flickr. See you there!

Rebecca Jennings, Principal Analyst
Forrester Research