Forget the bells and whistle. New research shows that consumers still want technology to follow the K.I.S.S. principle and keep it simple. Taking that one step further, they want technology (smartphones, tablets, home theater and home appliances) to simplify their lives according to the new Ketchum Digital Living Index, conducted by global communications firm Ketchum, N.Y. The research shows that three-quarters of consumers around the world are still dissatisfied with technology’s ability to make their lives simpler. According to the survey of more than 6,000 consumers in six countries, more than half (54 percent) said they want technology to be easy to use. Consumers also wanted devices to simplify their lives (46 percent), provide entertainment (35 percent) and express who they are (11 percent). 

“The most surprising finding in the study is the overwhelming desire for simplification. It seems counter-intuitive when technology is always about being bigger or better or faster, but the data show that what people really want is to understand how all of these devices can get them to their desired experience easily,” said Esty Pujadas, partner and director of Ketchum’s Global Technology Practice. “Manufacturers need to use less so-called jargon monoxide and communicate more about the human experience, not just about the object.”

The global survey also notes some cultural differences. The number of Chinese who claim to love their smartphones (44 percent) is nearly double those who say the same in France (24 percent). Usage patterns are also every different: the Chinese are more apt to use technology to manage their relationships and health, while the French tend to use technology to create experiences. 

At the same time, the survey enabled the company to break technology consumers into four distinct groups, which would serve marketers better than traditional demographics when it comes to technology.

The largest group, comprising 37 percent of the study’s global population, are the Enthusiasts. They are passionate about technology and are willing to sacrifice simplicity for empowerment. The next group, Infomaniacs (25 percent) value getting information and experiences over improving or managing relationships. The Pragmatists (22 percent) don’t love technology, but see the value it provides in managing relationships and getting things done. Finally, the Disconnects (16%) place a high value on simplification over the empowerment or enrichment that technology provides. 

“This way of categorizing users reinforces the importance of the human experience,” noted Pujadas. “Rather than look at age or gender or what features they use, this enables companies to make powerful emotional connections by speaking to the experience each type of user wants from the product.”

The Ketchum Digital Living Index offers many practical takeaways for public relations and marketing communications. For example, communicators can integrate their product into technology stories in countries that score high for people seeking health and wellness information, or make Infomaniacs heroes to their tribes by letting them release information ahead of others.

Visit www.digitallivingpr.comfor additional study information and materials.