How consumers are adapting to ever evolving technology
Greater device access and choice means that now, functionality is table-stakes and consumers are increasingly responsive to the emotional effect of technology.
Intimate technologies sparking the next mind-shift
All technology is an extension of ourselves: Devices both expand our world and become embedded in it when users develop a relationship to their gadgets. When Marshall McLuhan asserted this in the 1960s, his analysis referred to the rise of televisions and landline phones in the home; but his words still ring true today.
Adoption and intimacy fuel technology’s impact
To understand consumers’ relationship towards technology – and to the brands they engage with through digital channels – business leaders must evaluate technology along two distinct axes: Adoption & Intimacy. In addition to ownership and behavioral data, leaders must understand how intimately consumers relate to their devices because device intimacy shapes how consumers feel towards their technology, use their technology, and the degree to which technology is becoming engrained in consumer behavior and is seeping into consumers’ consciousness.
The State Of Consumers And Technology In India
1) Consumers use the least intimate technologies to execute tasks
Today’s least intimate technologies (PCs, tablets, televisions, chatbots) are on the periphery of the consumers’ sense of self and have become like utilities. They rely on these technologies as a necessary means to achieve a specific transaction.
2) Mildly intimate technologies are vehicles for emotional experiences
Certain technologies (social networking, e-commerce, online media streaming, alternative payments) aren’t emotional in and of themselves but are often the channels that deliver highly emotional content.
3) Intimate technologies change human behaviors and set new expectations
Today’s most intimate technologies enable consumers to complete tasks, coordinate across their personal lives, and engage in conversations through a rich, emotional, human-like experience. These highly intimate solutions are physically and emotionally closest to consumers and most disruptive of human behavior, psychology, and expectation.
Smartphones - Smartphones are the portal through which consumers spin a web of digital experiences around themselves and their homes: 53% of Indian online adults prefer to use a smartphone when streaming video content and 44% prefer the device when controlling home utilities.
Wearables - Reached a 56% adoption rate among metropolitan Indian online adults; wearable uptake has been fueled by the smartwatch, which has captured 41% of the Indian online adult market. The intimate nature of wearable technology drives 33% of Indian smartwatch owners to check and log their health information at least daily, and another 23% to control or monitor home utilities at least weekly.
Voice - Currently 25% of metropolitan Indian online adults use a voice assistant. The technology’s nascency means that consumers frequently use it for basic tasks: 13% check news, sports, or weather on their device at least daily; 10% stream music from the gadget at least weekly. But the personal nature of these devices creates powerful emotional experiences that drive behavioral stickiness and shape expectation. Already, 64% of Indian online adults expect to be able to engage with companies through voice interaction.
Artificial Intelligence - Of the most intimate tech solutions that extend our sense of self, Artificial Intelligence is poised to become the next most consequential. The promise of AI is already here: today, 28% of Indian online adults use smart appliances in their home.
The cycle of hyperadoption and hyper abandonment poses little risk to consumers who enjoy experimenting with new brands and products but creates enormous risk for businesses that require financial and operational resources to serve capricious consumer attitudes. Clients often lament to us about pouring money and manpower into designing experiences for emerging technologies that customers initially demand, and then drop by the wayside. As technologies become more intimate, the competition to reach consumers through tech channels becomes more challenging.
1) Measure how consumers are using technology and why.
2) Work harder to forge a relationship with consumers through less intimate technology. The less intimate the technology, the less likely consumers will have an inherently emotional experience.
3) Engage in human modes through more intimate technology. Marketers must be careful to breath emotional intelligence into these digital experiences.
4) Design a channel strategy by mapping the state of technology against business goals. Of all touchpoints, where does a marketer want to meet customers and why? If the goal is to make experiences faster and cheaper for the greatest number of people, technologies that have reached high adoption levels and that deliver low intimacy suffice. If the goal is to create a deeply personal experience that humanizes the brand, PCs and tablets likely aren’t the answer – more intimate technologies are.
5) Look around the curve by evaluating technology’s adoption and intimacy. Marketers can begin to identify how technologies will shape behavioral and attitudinal consumer change by tracking devices as they move along the adoption trajectory, and by observing how intimately consumers feel towards their devices. Then, marketers must evaluate how consumer usage along with technology’s impact on the business and capacity to disrupt to make prudent choices about technology investment.