Business

COVID-19: techlove versus techlash

  • People in emerging markets are at the forefront, especially when it comes to using technology to monitor and improve their health during the lockdown.
  • After the crisis, two-thirds of respondents expect brands to use technology for a better society – a similar proportion believe that all brands should develop products and services that support well-being.
  • A growing proportion of people worldwide believe in the ability of technology to solve societal challenges such as health, poverty and environmental issues
  • Concerns about the long-term negative effects of technology persist: more than half (57%) of people worldwide believe that the pace of technological change is too fast and that it promotes differences around the world.

The study of 32,000 people from 22 different countries highlights how we entered a new era of “techlove” during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the interaction with technology is more positive than ever before.

A third (29%) believe that technology has enabled them to better connect with friends, family and the world around them during the lockdown. A similar percentage (29%) of people worldwide believe that the technology allows them to relax and unwind in times of stress.

The research shows that people in emerging markets are learning new skills and improving their knowledge, fueled by the emergence of digital solutions and online courses. With more time at home to learn and improve, nearly half of the people surveyed in South Africa (46%), Mexico (44%) and Brazil (43%) use the technology in this way. A fifth of people in the UK (18%) and a quarter in the US (24%) also use technology to develop using educational apps and webinars, for example.

How does the personal use of technology affect your well-being?

When you look at differences between men and women, women (32%) more often than men (27%) say they feel more involved with friends, family and the world around them thanks to technology. This is particularly the case in the Eastern European / Scandinavian countries, for example in Poland (38% women versus 27% men) and Finland (37% women versus 20% men).

People in South Africa seem to use technology most of all countries to monitor their physical and mental health, with a third (29%) of respondents saying they use health apps and wearables for this. This is followed by a fifth of all Poles, Singaporeans and Brazilians (22%). Nearly a fifth (17%) of all Americans say they do the same.

People are also increasingly optimistic about the role technology has in society. A growing proportion of people worldwide believe in the ability of technology to solve societal challenges such as health, poverty and environmental issues. This has increased from 42% in 2018 to 54% in 2020.

Percentage that is positive about the role technology can play in urgent societal challenges.

Higher expectations from brands

This optimism translates into higher brand expectations. The pandemic has forced companies to rethink their interactions with consumers. As many as 66% of people worldwide expect organizations to use technology in a way that has a wider positive societal impact in the next five to 10 years. More than half in the US (60%) and the UK (59%) think this is the case, while people in China (84%) and South Africa (82%) need it most.

You can say that every brand should be a “health brand” in the future. Two thirds of consumers expect brands to develop products and services that improve their health and wellbeing. This is particularly the case in emerging markets. For example, eight out of ten people in China, Brazil and South Africa have this expectation.

Masaya Nakamura, CEO Global Solutions, Dentsu Aegis Network: “The pandemic has forced us to be more aware of the role technology can play in meeting our basic human needs. There has been a period of ‘techlove’ during the COVID-19 crisis, with brands using technology to strengthen their relationship with consumers. If we continue to do this during the recovery, the challenge for brands is to deploy technology in a human way that suits the needs of the consumer. It is good to invest in functionalities, such as e-commerce, but this must be accompanied by an equally great focus on building an empathetic brand. “

Watch out for the Techlash
Despite the short-term benefits of the technology during the pandemic, the Dentsu Aegis Network report shows that we are in the midst of a ‘techlash’ – a negative attitude that is felt more in some countries than in others.

Globally, 57% of people believe the pace of technological change is too fast (a level that has been consistent since 2018). Almost half of those surveyed also believe that digital technologies increase inequality between rich and poor, a feeling that is greatest in South Africa (61%), China (61%) and France (57%).

Brands need to think better about the life time value they offer consumers by integrating all elements of marketing, sales and service

While people in emerging economies have most embraced technology during the lockdown, the percentage of people who have a negative view of technology is highest here. For example, 64% (compared to 55% in 2019) of people in China believe that technology has had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, followed by Singapore (47%) and Hong Kong (41%).

And while social media helps people stay connected, nearly a fifth of people in the UK (17%) and US (14%) have found that technology makes them more stressed. This is higher than the global average of one in ten people (13%).

Nakamura: “As we look at the recovery, brands should focus more on creating tailor-made solutions that help people live better lives, rather than force them on a product or service. Brands need to think better about the life time value they offer consumers by integrating all elements of marketing, sales and service. During the pandemic, offering added value as a brand is central. This should be the case for the next decade and beyond. “

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