Computing does not compute for end users

Fifteen per cent of Canadian consumers admit they do not understanding all the features of one of the most common household electronic items – the VCR, according to a new Maritz survey. But that is not has bad as PDA and notebook owners.

The Maritz survey of 1,000 Canadians who purchase

electronics and computer equipment also found large numbers of consumers in the dark about the bells and whistles of many other household gadgets. In the most striking example, 67 per cent of consumers who own personal digital assistants (PDA’s) said they do not understand all of their features.

“”It’s a reflection of our fast-paced society,”” said Bob Macdonald, president and CEO of Maritz Canada. “”People apparently don’t want to take the time to explore and learn about the many features available on their many gadgets, including basic items like VCRs. It may also be a reflection of the service level provided at the retail outlet when the consumer is making a purchase decision. Quite often, time isn’t spent by the salesperson to walk customers through the various features and options available.””

The national survey was conducted among 1,000 adults across the country as a joint effort between Maritz Canada and Maritz: Thompson Lightstone to gauge consumer technology awareness and opinion.

Results are accurate to within +/- 3.10 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The features on another basic electronic item – the cell phone, owned by 74 per cent of respondents – are not fully understood by 27 per cent of users. Of that group, the gender breakdown was 55 per cent women, 45 per cent men, and 82 per cent were more than 30 years old.

Does Not Compute

Though 79 per cent of respondents own personal desktop computers (PCs) and 51 per cent own laptops, 31 per cent of PC owners and almost half (44 per cent) of laptop owners said they did not understand all the various computing features.

“”Most people feel the need to have these products, but they only use the features that fit into their day-to-day use,”” said Macdonald.

“”Features that do not directly affect consumers’ lifestyles are more problematic for electronics manufacturers in that they require a more persuasive demonstration of their benefits.””

Music to My Ears?

Not surprisingly, the newest listening device, the MP3 player, had one of the smallest ownership levels of gadgets mentioned at 45 per cent. In addition, 57 per cent of MP3 owners say they do not understand all of its features. By contrast, 90 per cent of respondents own a CD player and only

11 per cent of users do not understand the features.

Picture This

Among owners of digital cameras (53 per cent), video cameras (55 per cent) and DVD players (68 per cent), the full variety of features is not understood by 47 per cent, 40 per cent and 28 per cent of respondents, respectively.

“”As manufacturers are clamoring to market the latest, coolest feature on their consumer electronics, a fuller understanding of the power of utility may help,”” said John Ball, Managing Director of Maritz: Thompson Lightstone. “”The numbers tell us that essential functions are more valuable to customers than bells and whistles. In fact, the wow factor can sometimes add to the level of consumer frustration with a product.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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