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Digital Consumption: A Continued Growth or Just a Plateau?

Michael Psaila
June 21, 2021
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“The New Normal” – a term all of us have been exposed to time and time again over the last sixteen months or so, no matter the industry. Overused? Perhaps. One thing for certain is that the metaphorical “new normal” has always been a reference for digital importance. However, sixteen months later, without wanting to curse anything, on a global scale we all seem to be getting out of this pandemic. So I beg the question: Is the new normal suddenly the old normal? If so, what is the next normal?

The new normal represented digital adoption across all or most countries and industries. Most decision-makers were given a choice of either conforming or suffering consequences by not conforming to the wave of change. Digital growth over the course of the year 2020 shot up across all industries as fast as a trench soldier firing a bazooka. However this digital growth has indeed plateaued in the past six months and it also may begin to slip back once the pandemic eases – even as total digital adoption stays well above pre-pandemic levels.

McKinsey has spoken

A new Mckinsey survey was conducted in April of 2021 to highlight this fluctuation in digital growth, where global consumer sentiment was the main source to fuel the data gathering. The survey suggests that industries across regions experienced an average of 20 percent growth in “fully digital” users in the six months ending in April 2021, building on previous gains earlier in the pandemic. During that same time period, it was primarily younger people joining the ranks of digital users.

Many industries and regions may see a modest negative net change in post-pandemic digital use relative to 2020 even though total digital adoption remains above pre-pandemic levels. This is because an amount of consumers in some industries are saying that they will be using digital means less frequently once the pandemic ends causing the once rapid accelerated digital growth to level off … especially in both Europe and the U.S.

The New Digital user tends to be somewhat younger and slightly wealthier than other digital users.

“The industries most vulnerable to the loss of digital consumers may be those that saw the biggest gains in digital adoption during the pandemic. New adopters had little choice during lockdowns but to embrace digital channels, and the channels they entered were more likely to have been newly built and with a less satisfying user experience than already established ones.”

According to the findings in the survey – consumer differences between countries, regions and industries are nil, as consumers across seem to have similar expectations irrelevant of any aforementioned factor. The closer a digital service replicated the physical experience, the more that consumer learned to trust that service.

A consumer who was pre-pandemically accustomed to a physical-offering has learned to access this service digitally and with the over influx of global competition creeping in local markets (due to a limitless digital reach), that same consumer became easily exposed to top-notch experiences across global  industries making it difficult for said consumer to settle for anything less.

A Way Forward

As mentioned before, competition has become ever more fierce as digital knows no boundaries and companies can respond by addressing the key areas that matter most to digital consumers. According to the McKinsey survey, these key areas include User Experiences – Making it as easy as possible to get through a digital shop – the higher the physical replication, the better the experience; Better offerings; heightened security and privacy; phygital expertise (where the interactions of physical reality and digital are mixed) and others.

Working in parallel within the B2B section of the business world – many innovative solutions in digital services have also shot up. This serves companies across industries well as it may hold the key for them to further penetrate digital channels whilst simultaneously staying competitive in the ones that companies have already entered.

For more information about the Mckinsey Global Digital Sentiment Survey, please visit here.

If you are a decision-maker within a company and you are reading this, we at ANCHOVY. have been pushing “phygital” strategies for companies to implement as we are firm believers in the topic especially because we have been analysing consumer trends from the very start of the pandemic. If you would like to have a chat with us please contact us.