Author Archives: jenny

Smart Products Report 2022

In March 2022, we published the Smart Products Report 2022. The report, now in its second edition, is based on a representative study on the use and perception of smart products in Switzerland. It is published by the Institute of Behavioral Science and Technology at the University of St.Gallen as well as the Institute of Marketing and Analytics at the University of Lucerne in collaboration with Vorwerk Switzerland AG and LINK.

The Smart Products Report 2022 shows that smart products are widely used in Switzerland and are increasingly integrated into our everyday lives. Among the most frequently used smart products are smartwatches, robotic vacuum cleaners, and smart speakers. The findings also suggest that the perception of and relationship with these technologies is changing. For example, consumers perceive these technologies to increasingly take over the lead while consumers humanize their smart helpers by giving them nicknames.

The widespread use and positive attitude toward smart products contrast personal and societal concerns. Therefore, smart products’ future success depends on every stakeholder recognizing and addressing both, the benefits perceived by consumers and their distinct concerns about smart products.

Download the Selected Insights of the report for free in English or German.

Access the detailed Smart Products Report 2022 (44 pages and in English) here.

Research on Nicknaming Autonomous Products

The advent of artificial intelligence boosts the use of nicknames for today’s everyday products, such as “Dustin Bieber” for a robotic vacuum cleaner. Consumers verbally integrate autonomous products into their social lives by referring to them by a nickname or discuss which nickname to choose for their new device online. According to the CEO of iRobot, manufacturer of the robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba, an estimated 90% of his customers use a nickname for their Roomba. Moreover, the rise of autonomous products has translated into new forms of relationships. Products are seen as collaborators complementing human skills, as competitors substituting human skills, or as “coopetitors” combining both aspects. At the same time, an increasing number of companies actively encourages these trends, for example, by inviting their customers to create nicknames for their autonomous products in the corresponding mobile applications. Despite these observations, it is unclear how nicknaming influences consumers’ perception and use of autonomous products.

Our current research project looks into the consequences of nicknaming autonomous products and examines product autonomy as an important antecedent. The findings of the project have theoretical implications for research on new technologies and human-computer interaction, as well as managerial implications for communication, targeting, and product design.

Zimmermann, Jenny L., Emanuel de Bellis, Reto Hofstetter and Stefano Puntoni (2021). “Cleaning with Dustin Bieber: Nicknaming Autonomous Products and the Evolving Relationship with New Technologies,” Association for Consumer Research (ACR) conference.

Zimmermann, Jenny L., Emanuel de Bellis, Reto Hofstetter and Stefano Puntoni (2021). “Cleaning with Dustin Bieber: Nicknaming Autonomous Products and the Effect of Coopetition.” In TMS Proceedings 2021. Retrieved from

Project: Smart Products Report 2022

The Smart Products Report 2020 is the first representative study to shed light on the perception and use of smart products in Switzerland. And more is to come: We are currently preparing the Smart Products Report 2022 as a follow-up!

Did you know that in 2020, already 72% of the Swiss population owned a smart device? Furthermore, the Swiss seemed to enjoy their smart devices, with nearly one-quarter even giving them nicknames. One of our current research projects delves deeper into this phenomenon and investigates the consequences of nicknaming smart products. It shows, for example, in which contexts it can be valuable for practitioners to support their customers to use nicknames.

In 2020, participants expressed a strong interest in purchasing more smart products in the future—but how did the pandemic influence the use and appreciation of smart products? What are the most recent hot topics when it comes to smart products? 

The Smart Products Report 2022 will answer these and other intriguing questions. And you can be part of it: There are a few spots left for study partnerships, which include joint workshops and the opportunity to include specific questions into the study. If you are interested in joining our new endeavor, we are happy to hear from you at

Contribution to the book “The Machine Age of Customer Insight” that is now available!

Einhorn, Martin; Löffler, Michael; de Bellis, Emanuel; Herrmann, Andreas & Burghartz, Pia (ed.): The Machine Age of Customer Insight. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2021, – ISBN 9781839096976.

Available at: (Early birds save 30% with promo code “MACHINE30”)

The emerging machine age offers a unique opportunity to gain novel, profound customer insights and unlock immense potential in different business areas, especially for smart products that generate large amounts of data. The abundance of data and the pace of progress in turning data into actionable knowledge is affecting players in practically every sector. In 16 short and hands-on chapters, the book summarizes recent developments in business and academia and offers readers practical guidance demonstrating how machine learning techniques can help to understand customers better and faster.

Excellent authors from innovative firms and renowned universities provide a comprehensive overview of the transformation of customer insights (first part of the book), the tools needed to generate these insights (second part of the book), and the success factors to thrive in the new age (third part of the book). We are proud to have contributed alongside the outstanding editors and authors!

Reto Hofstetter presents a concise six steps guide for data scraping to exploit the business value of online data. Vast amounts of data are generated and stored on the Internet every second. Scraping online data can be highly valuable to businesses as they can be used to inform different strategic decisions. While it may often be quite easy to access these data, it is crucial to be aware of and avoid pitfalls in order to gain useful business insights. Reto’s chapter provides a hands-on read with a step-by-step guide helping to leverage the value of web-scraped data. 

Jenny Zimmermann provides an overview of data competition platforms and assesses their business potential. With the rise of machine learning, competitive data science platforms like Kaggle are also gaining momentum. Data competitions can be very valuable to companies because the platforms offer access to a large crowd of skilled data scientists who can solve their data science problems efficiently and cost-effectively. Yet, there are also downsides and pitfalls that need to be taken into account when planning to host a competition. Jenny’s chapter discusses opportunities and challenges by presenting a concrete case. 

The book provides a unique view bridging industry and academia and supports everyone who considers the machine age a great opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by transforming customer insights into business value. Have a sneak peek into the book here: