Global marketing agency, Dentsu Aegis Network has launched the latest edition of its Digital Society Index (DSI) survey. The study highlights the change in relationship between consumers and technology, as consumers have begun interacting with technology in a more positive way than ever before. The survey ran between March-April 2020 – the peak of the pandemic around the globe – analyzing the views of 32,000 people across 22 markets in terms of people’s relationship with technology, the knock-on effect on their well-being, as well as their connection with friends and family. Here are the key highlights –
Power of Connection
- Covid-19 has forced people to adopt technology for their everyday needs, almost overnight. It has brought about new changes in consumption around the globe. Consumption of digital media, such as streaming services, social media sites, and online collaboration platforms, have rocketed in recent months. Globally, people are more likely to engage with many digital products and services than they were last year.
- During the current crisis, technology is also playing a critical role in a person’s overall well being. When asked about how technology plays an impact, one-third of respondents (29%) believe tech has enabled them to connect with friends, family, and the world around them during the lockdown.
- 29% of people globally also believe tech is enabling them to relax and unwind at a time of potential stress.
Reversing the techlash?
- Pre-covid era, consumers had a negative sentiment towards technology, particularly about the impact it has on society with respect to mental wellbeing, digital addiction, and the consequences of automation of jobs. The report cites that the pace of tech change is extremely fast and the sentiment towards the same has remained consistent for two years in a row.
- This sentiment is felt most acutely in emerging markets. However, in some developed markets, the trend is reversed: while 72% of people in Japan believed the pace of tech change was too fast in 2019, that number fell to less than half (47%) in 2020. In terms of age, millennials agree as much as older people that the pace of tech change is too fast.
- Nearly half of the respondents believe digital technologies have made society more unequal in terms of the gap between rich and poor. This share has grown steadily over the last three years.
- In terms of employment, only one-third of respondents believe that emerging digital technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, will create career opportunities in the next 5-10 years. This proportion has increased slightly over the last three years, signally a potential increase in optimism about the ability of these technologies to drive new growth opportunities, but the number still remains low.
- The current crisis has brought the potential of digital to the forefront of people’s minds, especially its possibilities in helping to address societal challenges—such as health issues, poverty, and environmental degradation.
In the future brands will be expected to play an integral role in helping people to stay happy and healthy. How they engage with consumers through digital technologies provides a powerful lever to deliver on this objective. The report has highlighted a few suggestions that brands can utilize, to ensure that their use of digital technologies supports consumer well-being.
Create helpful experiences
- The COVID-19 crisis requires brands to pivot towards using technology in a way that is helpful in meeting fundamental human needs in particular, as it relates to consumer’s well-being.
Brands need to shift from thinking about selling more products to meeting fundamental needs, which ultimately will realize more value over the full consumer lifetime.
Be available, not omnipresent
- Brands need to shift their approach to how they reach people. Today, 4 out of 10 people globally find it intrusive when they are served personalized ads online.
- To cultivate positive engagement among consumers through digital media, brands need to rethink personalization strategies, to be more empathetic and helpful to individuals. This means being more specific and context-driven in identifying the full range of points at which brands can make themselves available to help consumers.
Reinforce positive actions with positive messaging
- Brands from all sectors should look at how they can develop messaging and campaigns, that support individual health & well-being through ads that will often be consumed on digital media.
- According to the survey, only a quarter of people globally say they live a healthier lifestyle as a result of the information, products, or services they find in ads. This implies that brands have to reconsider what they’re marketing and how they do it.
Maximize the immersive potential of digital
- The developments in digital media have helped marketers and advertisers access a whole new set of insights about how people are feeling when they interact with different channels.
Brands increasingly will need to look at how they can use more immersive technologies such as AR, gaming, and voice to understand how the interaction alters the consumers’ mood and ultimately help curate a more positive experience.
Marry increased commerce capability with brand-building
- While many brands are by necessity building increased e-commerce capabilities and services, the risk is that this leads to a reliance on functional factors (such as cost and utility) through which they appeal to consumers.
In order to differentiate themselves and deliver a positive, human experience through digital channels, brands need to ensure that equal attention is paid to building their brand in a way that appeals to consumers hungry for authentic, empathetic, and personal engagement.
Increase online safety
- With more people online and consuming digital media, the need has been heightened for brands to ensure the eradication of harmful content. Take for example the current issue with Facebook as many brands have paused advertising on the channel due to their failure to curb hate speech on the platform.
With conspiracy theories and fake news abounding during the crisis, brands also need to work harder to find ways of demonstrating the veracity and credibility of their messaging.
Anticipate consumer needs
- As brands look to reposition themselves as enablers of people’s health goals, there is a key role for CRM capabilities that can predict key moments in consumers’ lives where a brand could helpfully offer a relevant product or service.