COVID-19 creates new roles and rules for technology

Technology is being asked to meet more consumer needs than ever as a result of the global pandemic.
23 July 2020
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Aarti Bhaskaran


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COVID-19 is changing how consumers use technology in their everyday lives and will have a permanent impact on consumer shopping and purchase behaviours, according to Kantar findings. Tech has a role to play to meet these new needs, including innovating new retail experiences.

Consumer tech—and brands—becoming more central to our lives

Kantar finds consumers are relying on technology more than ever, with nearly 40% saying they have increased their use of devices for activities such as surfing the net and consuming online content compared to a month ago.

Device usage is also accelerating. Video conferencing and virtual home tours are two examples. In addition, as people spend more time at home for work and play, products like video games and home office equipment/printers have gained renewed relevance.

What’s more, consumers are looking to brands for answers. A large majority of consumers (73%) say that brands should talk about how they are helpful in new everyday life, while a quarter of them feel brands should actually be an example and guide the change.

Seize the moment to build relevance in a new normal

Kantar qualitative research and social analytics show these changing demands are triggered by underlying consumer needs of connection, escapism and connectivity, providing tech brands with the opportunity to connect more deeply with consumers.

Tech brands need to show consumers they are leading the change and helping their customers adapt to the new normal. Focusing on how your brand—and your devices and services—can help consumers adapt to our new ways of living will be important in building relationships in this new environment.

With nearly a quarter of all consumers planning to continue working from home even after lockdowns end, according to Kantar data, brands must evolve through innovation to not only keep up with accelerated usage of tech products but also set the pace for consumers.

In practical terms, this means having a thorough and current understanding of changes in consumer needs and behaviour and the underlying motivations beneath them. At the same time, brands need to apply this knowledge to accelerate planning, testing and launching new or enhanced products and services that anticipate and cater to consumer needs, as well as help people more seamlessly adapt to the new normal.

Rethink the retail experience

Across all categories, online shopping is becoming more important. Fifty-eight percent of consumers report they increased their online shopping in May (up from 45% in April). That figure jumps to 70% among 18- to 24-year olds. In addition, online shopping is driving new brand preferences. Nearly one third of consumers say they will continue to buy new products or services they started buying online during the crisis, while 36% will continue to buy from online stores where they have begun shopping post COVID.

covid19 and tech

Consumer tech companies will need to rethink the retail experience in order to adapt to changing consumer behaviours. The new retail experience should emphasise both online and offline discovery and engagement through service-led solutions. Tech retailers that provide a safe and protective ecosystem they control, while enabling online-to-offline behaviour, will resonate.

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