Connected Convenience: The Shift in the Concept of Togetherness in the Wake of COVID-19
COVID-19 has wholly altered the way people connect with their friends, family, and other acquaintances in their daily lives. Digital tools have become one of the most important means for people to get in touch with others. These new touchpoints have transformed the nature of relationships and payment habits. To keep up their relevance, businesses too are having to adapt to this change.
Connected Convenience analyzes how people’s need for connection is being increasingly expressed online with a focus on two main areas i.e., the way people socialize and how consumers engage with businesses.
To understand what the shift to connected convenience meant for consumer behaviour, Kantar Profiles conducted research commissioned by Facebook IQ from May 2020 onward for six months.
Here are the major highlights of the report.
Redefined Social Experience
From work to school and gaming, digital channels have played a vital role in helping people connect during the pandemic. 53% of the Americans also said that the internet had been quite essential for them during the pandemic.
Digital channels have emerged as a crucial source for connection during COVID-19 with over 23% of the people across the world saying that they turned to online communities for stress management.
Rise of Online Gaming Communities
While 76% of global internet users participated in online communities even before the outset of the pandemic, gaming platforms have now become places for meaningful connections where users feel respected.
82% of the people played video games globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. 53% of the people worldwide said that they downloaded a game for free just to participate in the multiplayer mode; 72% of these people were in the age group of 18-24.
The Need for Physical Intimacy
Social distancing has made people come to realize the significance of physical intimacy in their lives. 40% of the Americans said that they missed physical intimacy more than emotional or mental intimacy.
So, they have now started to turn to activities that help build this sense of connection with other people that they have been craving. Playing board games with the members of their household is one of the most preferred ways of fostering connection.
Embracing Digital Connections for Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has made people realize that they don’t need to go to the doctor for consultation, which is why remote consultations in healthcare are gradually picking up.
The share of people who used telehealth services in the US saw a substantial increase from 11% in 2019 to 46% in 2020. As consumer behaviour continues to change, there might be a further increase in the demographic of people who are currently using technology to access healthcare.
Going Cashless and the Rise of Digital Payments
Digital convenience has not only changed how people interact with each other, but it has also transformed how they engage with businesses. Their payment medium is the biggest indicator of this change.
While cash payments had already been on a decline for the last few years, cards overtook cash as the most preferred payment method in the UK in 2017. By 2025, it is expected half of the Swedish retailers will also stop accepting cash payments.
The concerns around the transmission of COVID-19 through coins and notes and the rapid uptake of e-commerce are the two biggest reasons for this shift.
The decline in cash payments has also changed how people send money to each other. Digital channels like messaging apps are becoming quite popular payment mediums. For example, 57% of the people in Japan said that they had purchased through a messaging service for the first time since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in their country. 83% of these consumers were in the age group of 18-34.
While online payments were already popular among young consumers, now older adults are also resorting to online platforms for their daily needs who had been hesitant till now to use these services. In May 2019, only 16% of the people over the age of 65 shopped online multiple times a week. This figure has risen to 43% now because of COVID-19.
Key Takeaways for the Marketers
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a long-lasting impact on how people interact with others through digital platforms for both work and leisure. Marketers need to rebrand their services as ones that are similar to real-world interrelations. This includes enabling real-time, two-way dialogue to provide people with spaces where they can connect safely. This also applies to online gaming platforms where the majority of users want to engage with other users other than playing games.
Also, as consumers continue to adopt digital payments, brands should consider coming up with simple, quick, and contact-free payment options that can sway purchase decisions in a major way. Also, brands should optimize their payment processes by keeping safety and security as their priorities.
To delve deeper into the findings of this study, find the full report here.