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Connected Consumers: Digital Detox

Ian Bell Profile Picture
Ian Bell Bio
Michelle Evans Profile Picture
Michelle Evans Bio

March 9th's National Day of Unplugging emphasizes the importance of mental well-being by disconnecting ourselves from technology and reconnecting with what truly matters to each of us. As support to this movement, we've compiled a report on digital detoxes and the impact it's made on consumer markets.

Meet the Connected Consumers

Connected Consumers use a variety of devices and interfaces to connect to the internet, in order to interact with digital content, services and experiences. While computers first brought the internet into the home, mobile, in  particular, ushered in a borderless internet, giving more consumers instant access to anything, anywhere. This digital connectivity, which underpins the very existence of Connected Consumers, has altered all aspects of life.

Internet of everything

The first wave of connectivity was driven by the arrival of computers into the home; the second was characterised by the arrival of the smartphone. More recent breakthroughs in the cost of sensors, processing power and greater bandwidth, with which to connect more internet-enabled devices, are creating ubiquitous connections. This next stage of connectivity has been dubbed the Internet of Things (IoT), and will have a profound impact. Always-on is the new normal.

In this environment the relationship between consumers and all types of manufacturers will evolve, as the greater connectivity enables companies to adopt service-orientated business models, offering remote monitoring, analytics and predictive maintenance. Item-level sensors on products will enable companies to track these items through the supply chain until disposal. Even personal chipping will exponentially increase the volume of data,  giving brands and service providers unprecedented detail in terms of what Connected Consumers are doing, when, and likely why. At the same time, this increased connectivity will further push the comfort zone, as consumers  realise they can never log out.

Keeping it real

For the Connected Consumer, the more viral lifestyle has become the greater the desire for something genuine. As a result many are looking beyond products and service for experience. In this sense, experience can be considered more honest, authentic consumption. On the flip side of the coin, Connected Consumers themselves are looking for authenticity to project a often highly edited version of their ‘authentic self’ through social media. This authenticity of artifice has in itself become for many yet another social pressure.

Digital detox is appearing as a countertrend, unplugging which at least on the surface appears to offer an opportunity to cast off the virtual world to reconnect with the real and meaningful.

Digital Detox Challenge: engaging with mobile apps in order to log out

Smartphones introduced the notion of mobile apps, enabling Connected Consumers to execute a variety of tasks. Now there are apps that seek to foster a digital detox, helping Connected Consumers to reconnect with the world beyond the screen. Digital Detox Challenge for Android gamifies the tech detox by setting challenge groups. Those wanting to disconnect select a challenge group and then pay a nominal fee should they wish to reconnect before the time has expired.

Connected Consumers Lifestyle

Internet connectivity is so intertwined into the daily lives of Connected Consumers that over half of say they would be lost without it, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Trends Survey. Thanks to the smartphone, connected consumers can now execute these actions at anytime and  from anywhere. In only 10 years since the iPhone was unveiled, Connected Consumers report mobile devices are often not out of reach. Global mobile users leveraged them for an average of six distinct activities per day in 2016 with the greatest usage in emerging markets. Ready access to content and services around the clock has in a sense spoilt the Connected Consumers, with ‘on demand’ now the catchphrase of a generation.

Connectivity is the new normal. As of 2017, 45% of the global population uses the internet. Euromonitor projects that 76% will have access by 2030. Although consumers might feel the pace of change as being heightened in the connected era, there is little to suggest this is any quicker or more profound than may have been experienced during earlier infrastructure upgrades.

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