A few days ago, I was asked to be a part of a focus group discussion conducted by a leading market research firm. The group consisted of 20 participants -- all students, 16-25 years old, who are certified gadget freaks. The purpose of the FGD was to determine current market attitudes towards laptops and gather feedbacks regarding a new product developed by one of the front runners in computer technologies around the world.
Here's a rundown of the things I observed and realized from the discussion we had:
1) Each participant has at least 2 of every type of electronic device.
Almost everyone has at least 2 cellphones, 2 portable computers (laptop/ netbook), 2 cameras (DSLR/digicam), 2 gaming consoles (PlayStation/Xbox/Wii), etc. This reinforces my conclusion in an earlier blog about gadget convergence that despite proliferation of all-in-one devices, people would still continue maintaing separate, dedicated ones.
2) Social networking tops the list of things done with laptops/computers.
Social networking was the almost unanimous answer the facilitator got after asking what we use our laptops for (there were only I think 3 of us who answered differently). I am not surprised. We wouldn't be heralded as the "Social Networking Capital of the World" for nothing! Haha!
3) Most wanted feature: Holographic Display
In one activity, we were asked to design our dream laptop. Most of us came up with one that features a holographic display. Seems like a lot of my co-participants were inspired by the iPhone 5 concept video currently circulating over the net. It's kinda funny that some actually believe the video to be true and are hell bent on buying one as soon as it's released. Haha! Can't really blame them for being overly enthusiastic, though. Any gadget which boasts of a holographic display and laser keyboard is definitely one wicked machine!
4) Design matters big time.
I'm a sucker for gadgets with unique and cutting-edge form factors. I get drawn into laptops that are sleek and stylish. A lot of my co-participants agree with me on this too. They even consider color availability and whether the design suits their character and age. I guess this goes to show that gadgets nowadays are no longer just that - electronic devices created to make our lives easier. They're now considered as valuable accessories, chosen not only for their functionality but also for their ability to express one's personality.
5) Price is one of the last things considered.
Price only comes after brand/quality, features, and design in the list of factors considered when choosing a laptop (or any gadget for that matter). Some were even willing to spend around P150,000 for a laptop with holographic display! These dudes do not really mind paying an extra amount for something they really want.
All the foregoing observations/realizations cannot be said to apply to the general public considering the relatively small sample size (20) and the limited socio-economic class the respondents belong to (A and B). However, I believe one can pick up a few things from them that may be indicative of the attitude towards laptops and other electronic devices nowadays.