Deloitte report reveals how the pandemic changed consumers' engagement with technology – iTWire

The Covid pandemic has had an impact on how consumers engage with digital technologies, according to the second edition of Deloitte’s annual Digital Consumer Trends survey report (previously Mobile Consumer Survey).
Deloitte consulting partner and national telecommunications lead Peter Corbett opines that COVID-19 has acted as a major catalyst when it comes to the adoption of digital technologies.
“In 2020, driven by lockdown-induced working from home, we purchased more devices, we used smartphones more than ever, we embraced telehealth and virtual appointments, we turned more to remote and touchless payments, and we increased time spent on social media and streaming services,” Corbett reveals.
The report highlights the following digital trends and issues:
Fake news
• 79% of respondents see fake news as a problem in today’s media landscape
• 53% consider news from traditional providers as trustworthy compared to only 18% for social media platforms
Privacy
• 85% of Australians are aware that their data is used by companies with 73% concerned about privacy
• 32% stopped using social media platforms in the last 12 months, and 28% cited privacy concerns as a reason
Connectivity and 5G
• 33% moved to higher speeds
• 14% now have a 5G service, up from 6% in 2020
Device ownership and usage
• 38% of consumers have purchased a digital device as a direct result of the pandemic
Touchless payments
• 85% have used a smartphone to make an in-store payment, up from 58% in 2020
Not all news is good news
The proliferation of fake news is a concern for Australians, especially at a time when access to trusted news has never been this important.

“When it comes to our preferred news sources, traditional media, such as TV, continues to dominate, followed by apps and websites affiliated with a news provider or newspaper. In contrast, social media as a news source does not receive the same favour,” Corbett explains.
“Trust concerns, particularly among older consumers present a particular challenge for social media platforms as they look to keep older demographics engaged, but also highlights an ongoing question around the way in which they engage younger demographics,” Corbett adds.
Post-pandemic privacy
Scanning QR codes and sharing vaccination status have raised awareness on privacy—who it is shared with and how it is used. While the level of concern over how businesses use consumer data has reduced, many Australians are unsure if the benefit they receive from sharing their data outweighs their data privacy concerns.
“Some consumers certainly see the benefits of sharing their data, such as better personalisation of information and advertising, but there is also evidence of self-regulation of data sharing through selective permissions in apps and cancelling of services or platform subscriptions because of privacy concerns. These evolving attitudes, combined with expected updates to the Australia’s Privacy Act in the next 12-18 months, make for an absorbing start to the world of post-pandemic privacy,” Corbett says.
Corbett calls on businesses to find a balance while still capturing the data required to enable digital experiences.
“Developing smarter consent strategies, allowing consumers to understand and maintain more opt-in control over data usage and user-friendly consent management will need to be considered.”
The connectivity wave and 5G adoption
In the last 18 months, the virtual world has been a lifeline, and it has instigated shifts and upgrades in home connectivity. Meanwhile, Australia’s 5G rollout has continued at full steam, and while adoption is expected to continue to grow, the pace of growth will be determined by factors such as device compatibility, MVNO availability, and the relevance of 5G in smartphone purchase decisions.
“The connectivity landscape looks different for Australian consumers in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic,” Corbett notes.
“5G take-up has doubled since 2020 to 14%, which is high compared to other geographies, and we have also seen consumers make improvements to home connectivity with 33% of respondents changing their home internet service since the start of the pandemic with speed upgrades being the top reason to change,” Corbett says.
Devices
The pandemic also ramped the purchase of tech devices in 2021 with 38% of respondents buying at least one tech device in 2021 up from 26% in 2020.
Laptops, smartphones, and TVs were the favourite devices with most device categories experiencing a bump.
“The spike has a potential flow-on impact to the uptake of new technologies such as 8K TVs and 5G smartphones. Consumers who purchased a 4K TV or 4G enabled smartphone in the last 12 months will likely wait a number of years before their next refresh, potentially impacting the mass adoption of the latest technologies,” Corbett says.
“Ownership of wearable devices have also continued to grow while purchasing has also broadened out into the long tail of consumer devices connected in the home, such as smart appliances, lighting, and hub devices. On this front, there is clear potential for hardware providers to bundle services to support, for example, home security and energy monitoring via the likes of apps, cloud services, software upgrades, support and installation, and subscription business models.”
Touchless payments
Mobile digital wallets are now mainstream and being used by 85% of Australians. Payments using our wrists are also growing with 10% of respondents preferring payments using a wearable device.
Deloitte consulting partner and national technology, media and telecommunications leader Will Castles explains how mobile digital wallets are becoming more mainstream, but is quick to point out that is not the only digital payments trend to emerge from the pandemic.
“The fintech-driven payments landscape is clearly opening up, with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms increasing in popularity, and consumer uptake of peer-to-peer payment apps and QR code (eQR) payments providing other spaces to watch,” Castles says.
“Businesses should look to take advantage of these mainstream shifts in digital behaviour and focus on designing products and services with a broader and now more tech-savvy, as well as eco-conscious, consumer in mind,” Castles concludes.
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 13 December 2021.
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