The Impact of COVID Driven Tech Adoption
Product and Marketing SVP Steve Sinclair explores the pandemic’s lasting effect on consumer tech habits and the revealing results of Mojo’s latest researchOct 08, 2020
The onset of COVID-19 sparked rapid consumer adoption of many apps, devices and services. Online delivery platforms and work-from-home apps like Zoom saw the most obvious rises, with stay-at-home orders forcing people to find new solutions to life’s daily tasks.
At Mojo Vision, we wanted to better understand the impact of sheltering in place and its relationship with this increased technology use. Was this a fad? Or would a short period of necessity have a longer-lasting impact on consumer habits?
To answer these questions, we surveyed 2,000 consumers in June 2020 — asking about usual technology use and how recent changes have affected not only tech acceptance and adoption, but attitudes towards the industry as well.
We found that the onset of COVID and shelter-in-place orders increased technology use across the board in all age groups. But looking deeper, the data revealed that this short period of forced and rapid tech use has the potential to permanently shift the traditional tech adoption curve.
Shifting the Curve
In our latest report titled The Long-Term Impact of COVID’s Short-Term Technology Adoption, 60% of self-identified First Adopters — those who are usually among the first to buy or try new devices — stated they were using new devices, applications and services that they had not used before. The same was true with 40% of Later Adopters — consumers that usually wait longer to purchase new technology — who also said they were buying or trying new tech because of the pandemic.
While we expected both First and Later Adopters to use more technology during this time, we discovered that Later Adopters were now inclined towards faster and earlier adoption — 41% stated that, even after the pandemic subsides, they are likely to continue purchasing and using new technology at this faster pace.
This behavioral change will fundamentally shift the technology adoption curve that we all recognize further to the left, making it less bell-shaped and implying a permanently accelerated acceptance.
Shifting the Mindset
In addition to this increased desire and use — or maybe even as a result of it — nearly all survey respondents (90%) said their attitudes toward tech brands and the industry had become more positive or stayed the same since the onset of the pandemic. Among younger respondents aged 18-29, half (50%) stated having a more positive attitude — the highest of any age group, and particularly significant considering this demographic will likely become the foundation for future technology adoption and purchase.
What technology are people turning to?
Gaming and entertainment products, as well as wearable devices, were identified as the top two areas of interest before COVID, but the rapid shift from life as usual to sheltering-in-place brought other new tech into the mainstream — particularly devices, apps or services that people weren’t using or had given little thought to before such as grocery delivery apps and health and wellness.
While the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) recently forecasted that overall sales for consumer technology products and services will drop slightly in 2020, our data looks beyond short-term sales to understand longer-term increases in adoption. With nearly half (41%) of Later Adopters likely to continue purchasing and using new technology at an increased pace after the pandemic subsides, our report shows the market for technology products and services may be expanding in the long term, as more reluctant tech consumers shift into the earlier adopter segment.
When asked about future technology, personal augmented reality devices, artificial intelligence, driverless cars and robots ranked as the top four emerging technologies that consumers would be most open to adopting in 3-5 years. This interest in new technology along with anticipated acceleration of adoption creates interesting opportunities to reshape the landscape of the industry.
So where do we go from here?
How can we as an industry make sure we’re doing all we can to meet the growing demand for valuable technology and tools to help during these chaotic times? We listen to consumer pain points.
When asked what the focus should be for future innovation and products, people said they were interested in apps, devices or services that improve health, medicine and safety (36%), purposefully serve the greater good (35%), and deliver better security and privacy (35%) — factors that appear to be a direct result of the common concerns we all share around the world.
This is a signal to focus on the type of innovation that puts these consumer needs first and to incorporate design that is more purpose driven. A short period of intense need for technology has the potential to create lasting consumer habits that change the way we interact with and value these apps, devices and services for years to come.
For more insights into COVID’s long term impact on technology adoption, you can download the full research report here.