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How The Pandemic Has Changed Tech Buying

Australians have upgraded the home internet, bunch more devices, became more reliant on smartphones, embraced touchless payments, made telehealth appointments, and even gave in to the clunky QR code.

The latest Digital Consumer Trends 2021 Report from Deloitte shows this increased reliance on and embrace of technology, as we swung into year two of COVID.

“If nothing else, the last 12 months have continued to solidify our reliance on digital technology and many of the trends we observed in 2020 have continued to gain pace,” the report states.

In 2020, just over a quarter of Aussies had purchased a new device as a direct result of the pandemic. Now, that figure has blown out to 38 per cent.

Smart TV penetration has reached 64 per cent (up from 58 per cent in 2020) with 39 per cent of Australians buying a gaming console, despite global shortages.

33 per cent of households changed their internet connection, with the need for speed given as the main reason.

Happily for providers, of those making the upgrade, the majority (67 per cent) stayed with their existing service provider, but boosted the speed. Whether this suggests, as Deloitte says, “they were happy with the service they were receiving, but simply wanted to boost the speed due to new lockdown usage requirements” or they were stuck on a plan isn’t evident.

For the younger generation, it’s likely to be the former, with 31 per cent of 18-24s playing more online games, 38 per cent streaming more YouTube, and 27 per cent using more TV streaming services since the start of the pandemic.

“Over the coming months, it will be interesting to observe whether these consumers revert back to a lower speed plan now that restrictions are lifting and the demand for at-home entertainment is likely to fall,” Deloitte states.

“Alternatively, we may see service providers offering short-term incentives in an effort to retain these younger customers on higher speed plans.”

8 per cent of Aussies changed solely due to pricing, moving to a lower-cost home internet service. This also skewed towards the younger demographics, with 14 per cent of 18-24s and 13 per cent of 25-34s making this switch.

“This suggests that younger consumers had contrasting relationships with their connectivity providers in the last year,” the report notes.

 

The amount of 5G users has more than doubled in the past year, with 14 per cent of Aussies now on a 5G plan, compared to 6 per cent in the 2020 report.

These are hardly impressive numbers, considering the focus on this technology by providers and device manufacturers alike.

We are in the third year of the national 5G rollout, with coverage reaching 75 per cent of the country.

“Although 14 per cent adoption demonstrates that there is a significant portion of the population who are yet to connect, Australia is still a front runner compared to many international markets,” the report notes.

By comparison, Japan has 10 per cent adoption, with the UK (9%), Italy (5%) and Belgium (3%) also lagging behind.

South Korea, who are a global leader in 5G adoption, has 38 per cent of its citizens using the service.

Many of the major networks are still rolling out their 5G network. “Therefore, some consumers would not yet be covered by 5G while at home and would be unable to take advantage of the benefit provided, even if they have a 5G enabled phone and mobile plan,” the report explains.

Understanding of 5G is also low, with 56 per cent of respondents admitting they don’t know enough about 5G to make a wise decision. In 2020, this figure was at 61 per cent, suggesting that messaging has not at all been successful.

More tellingly, 5G capability ranked just eleventh on the list of features Aussies consider to be most important when shopping for a new smartphone. Just 9 per cent consider it a top priority.

Of course, as this feature becomes standard, and the rollout edges closer to 100 per cent coverage, this is likely to become even less relevant, and more of a baked-in standard that people don’t think hard about.

“As the 5G network roll-out continues, Fixed Wireless Access will become a reality for many and is expected to become an increasingly viable alternative to in-home fixed internet connections, especially in areas with poor nbn performance.”

There seems to be more awareness of consumer data privacy, with 85 per cent of Aussies now aware of companies using personal data, while concern over this dropped from 78 per cent in 2020, to 73 per cent.

This is no doubt fatigue setting in.

“Whether this should be viewed as positive progress or pandemic induced complacency is still up for debate,” the report admits.

“Regardless, there is little denying the significant influence the pandemic has had on our willingness to share personal information, such as location and vaccination status. All information many Australians wouldn’t have considered a mere 24 months ago.”

Fake news has also led to fatigue, with 79 per cent of Aussies seeing ‘fake news’ as a problem in the media, with older generations more likely to hold this view: 85 per cent of 65-75s believe this, compared to 71 per cent of 18-24s.

55 per cent of Australians indicated they “find it difficult to differentiate between real and fake news.”

 

“Across the board there is a perception that some news sources are not inherently trustworthy – with traditional sources viewed significantly more favourably than social media platforms,” the report found.

Just 18 per cent of Australians now feel that news found on social media was “usually trustworthy” with 33 per cent not knowing whether or not to trust this news.

Trust declines with age. 30 per cent of 18-24 find social media to be a trustworthy source of information, while just 9 per cent of 65-75s trusted social media news.

 



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