The latest Digital Society Index (DSI) survey by global marketing agency Dentsu Aegis Network reveals that people around the world have entered a new period of ‘tech-love’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey ran between March-April 2020 – the peak of the pandemic around the globe – and analysed 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. As part of this study, 1,022 people from Australia were surveyed.
The major findings of the study included:
- 61 per cent believe tech is having a positive impact on their overall health and wellbeing
- Aussies optimistic about how technology can be used to solve societal challenges.
- 60 per cent of people expect businesses to be using technology for greater good
- There are still some concerns over the negative impacts of tech: over half (57 per cent) of people globally believe the pace of change is too fast; 49 per cent of Australians believe technology has created a greater divide between the rich and poor.
- Compared to China and Brazil, Australians are not as confident that emerging technologies, such as robotics and AI, will create career opportunities locally in the next decade.
Australians have placed significant importance on their health and wellbeing, saying that their physical (64 per cent) and mental (63 per cent) health, as well as their relationships with family and friends (58 per cent), is more important than financial stability (38 per cent). Australia was the second highest ranking country in the study when ranking their mental health as a top priority, surpassed marginally by Brazil.
While the research reports Australians are feeling stressed and finding it harder to switch off from their devices than the global average, one in five people have said that using technology helps them relax. In addition, 61 per cent of people also report that technology is having a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.
Currently only 15 per cent of Australians say they monitor their health through wearable fitness devices, however one third of people (36 per cent) have said they will be using technology to predict what will happen to their physical health in the next five to ten years. Beyond the pandemic, 45 per cent of Australians believe they will use some form of tech to measure their health on a daily basis.
Christine McKinnon, dentsu Australia’s Head of Intelligence, commented: “Since the outbreak began, we’ve been speaking with Australians on a regular basis to get a pulse check on how they are thinking and feeling, and how their behaviours have shifted as the pandemic unfolds.
“We saw panic buying in the beginning, followed by an obsession with making bread, and exercise patterns have fluctuated between different age groups depending on how they’re feeling that week. With gyms and sports on hold, we’ve seen a number of Australian businesses and personal trainers move to an online model to support a new life indoors.
“This global study shows that over half of Australians (55%) are anticipating seeing new health and wellbeing products enter the market. For businesses interested in moving into well-tech, these findings clearly demonstrate that the market is still ripe with opportunity,” said McKinnon.
The other side of the coin
While people have said they feel more connected and are leading healthier lives with the support of technology, the global report warns of a longer-term trend of a ‘techlash’: a negativity felt towards technology.
Across the globe, 57 per cent of people believe the pace of tech change is too fast and many also believe that technology has increased the gap between right rich and poor. In Australia, 49 per cent of people agree with this statement.
“Nearly half of the people surveyed globally believe that technology is driving the inequality gap, however at the same time people are also optimistic about what technology can achieve and how it can be used to solve some of society’s most pressing issues,” said McKinnon.
Opportunities for businesses
In Australia, 60 per cent of people are expecting organisations to use technology in a way that has a wider positive impact on the community. This is a sentiment felt across the world, with people in China having the highest expectations globally (84 per cent).
The challenge for businesses today is understanding how consumer behaviour will endure beyond the immediate demands of the crisis and what might fall away over time.
“As we move further into recovery, businesses need to be cognisant of how their customers may have changed during COVID-19 and understand how technology is enabling or disabling their brand experience.
“To succeed in Australia’s changing landscape, it is critical for businesses to humanise technology and ensure its meeting people’s desires and needs right now. For example, in this study 41 per cent of Australians have said they find it intrusive when served personalised advertisement, and they also want to see tech being used for greater good and in ways that bridge the inequality gap.
“It’s important that business leaders find a balance between developing products and marketing campaigns that meet a human need, while also ensuring they invest in functional capabilities to support gaps and opportunities in the market, such as online learning and ecommerce,” said McKinnon.
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