The Pandemic as a Technological Catalyst
Major events – from war to severe economic downturns – have often been the catalyst for technological acceleration. Similarly the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the business, economic and technology landscapes, including how we get our food, the acceleration of work-from-home options and the expansion of the Metaverse. In a post-COVID environment, it is imperative we look at the tech trends that are here to stay, the challenges and opportunities they create, and how they can be optimized for sales growth going forward.
Remote Work Options
Though working from home has been a growing option for some time, the pandemic lock-down accelerated this trend. The clear question became – how permanent was this change?
While many businesses have returned to in-office work, 13% of jobs are now fully remote and 58% of Americans report working from home at least one day per week. Estimates are that 22% of the workforce or over 36 million Americans, will be fully remotely by 2025 with even more companies incorporating some sort of “hybrid” offering. Due to more time for family, exercise and work-life balance, remote companies are reporting lower employee turnover and increased productivity, as well as a definite recruiting advantage. So is remote work here to stay?
• An Owl Labs survey reported that remote employees worked more than a full week (40 hours) 43% more often compared to workers that never worked remotely. Remote employes also responded that they were happy at work, 22% more often than those that worked outside of the home.
• Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employers can save over $11,000/year/employee through remote work.
• According to McKinsey research, the third most popular reason for looking for a new job, is a more flexible working arrangement/remote work opportunity.
• According to Zippia:
· 75% of employees believe they have a better work-life balance working remotely
· 57% report less stress
· 54% improved morale
· 50% report fewer sick days
People in the US who are younger, more educated or have higher incomes tend to have more options to work remotely, though this is also job specific. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about half of the workers in computer and math occupations and 78% of web developers had the ability to work remotely. Conversely, only 1.7% of workers in healthcare practitioner and technical occupations had that option.
• Claritas ConneXions®* segment Cyber Sophisticates, is 200% more likely than the average consumer to use their internet more than 26 hours per week for remote work. Cyber Sophisticates are wealthy management/ professionals with high technology use.
Pro Tip: If this very tech savvy group proves to be a key target, use ConneXions to dive deeper into which digital channels they typically use to determine the best ways to reach them with messaging. On the other hand, ConneXions segment Broadband Boulevards are higher income older adults who are 25-30% less likely than most consumer households to work remotely. Though they are in the mid-range of technology use, it would be beneficial to mix in offline-channels when trying to reach this audience.
*NOTE: Designed specifically of the technology and telecommunications industry, ConneXions by Claritas is an industry-leading, proprietary segmentation solution that helps you know more about the technology behaviors of today’s connected consumers and predict adoption rates for all major tech categories.
From Groceries to Restaurants – How We Get Our Food
Other COVID-19 tech beneficiaries include online grocery shopping, restaurant alternative services and food delivery. While these e-commerce trends existed before COVID, it took the virus to push more widespread acceptance. From contactless payments to online ordering, QR codes, mobile apps and digital signage, the biggest hurdle for these trends was the set-up. Now that operational set-up is in place, are these trends here to stay?
Citing saving time, more variety and safety, 68% of all US shoppers said they now consider themselves to be online grocery shoppers. As a result, grocery stores and other retail establishments are making pickup and delivery faster and more efficient, while working on a seamless omnichannel experience that better blends in-store and online shopping.
Similarly, many restaurants function differently than they did pre-pandemic. Restaurants are still seeing as much as 16 percent fewer people dining on-premises, However, delivery is up more than 5% and drive-through is up as much as 13%. Those that adapted their offerings, from new menu items to introducing delivery and curbside pickup options, withstood the pandemic, while those that did not, have permanently closed their doors.
• Rich, educated, and tech-savvy, the members of ConneXions’ Technovators segment are 172% more likely than other segments to have ordered meal kit deliveries in the last 30 days, 146% more likely to have had groceries delivered and 113% more likely to have had food delivered from a restaurant.
Pro-Tip: Since these are high tech use consumers prone to convenience services, this is a great audience with which to test out new digital apps, services and tech enhancements. How do you reach them? They often stream using NHL.TV and listen to family-related podcasts, making those good places to start.
• ConneXions’ Cinemaniacs are upscale singles and couples who are comfortable watching premium movie channels and getting their news through web-surfing. They currently rank about average for ordering meal kits, but are 12% less likely to order groceries online or get restaurant delivery.
ProTip: As mid-level users of technology, these consumers are prime targets for digital messages aimed at education and the eventual expansion into each of these food delivery services.
NOTE: Globally, UberEats is the most popular app; however in the US, DoorDash reigns with over 50% market share. While delivery is still up from pre-pandemic levels, many food delivery services are struggling as economic conditions have people more budget-conscious. Restaurants must continue to identify key customer attitudes about dine-in, carry-out, delivery and drive-through options, and look for additional services to attract new patrons.
From in-store to on-line to virtual reality: The Metaverse
Forbes named the Metaverse one of the top ten trends everybody must be ready for in 2023. Touted as the successor to the internet, the metaverse refers to a shared, three-dimensional virtual realm where people interact with objects, the environment and each other through digital representations of themselves or avatars. Rise in demand for work from home and remote working tools during the pandemic led to growth of the global metaverse market. And while the ability to engage with the Metaverse is becoming easily accessible to a majority of consumers, it is a digital channel that advertisers are just now starting to incorporate into their strategies.
According to BanklessTimes, the market size of the Metaverse is over $38.5 billion (though some other sources place its size much higher) with over 400 million Metaverse monthly active users. And while 51% of the Metaverse user base is 13 or younger, 74% of American adults are joining or are considering joining the Metaverse. It is predicted that by 2026, 25% of people will spend an hour or more in the Metaverse each day. So as an advertiser looking to reach your ideal consumers, is the Metaverse an appropriate medium?
• As you would expect, ConneXions’ Technovators are far more likely to be excited about the Metaverse. In fact, both Technovators and Plugged-In Families (upscale, younger families with high tech use) are over 3X more likely to be excited about both the Metaverse and cyptocurrency, and 2 ½ X more likely to be excited about augmented reality.
Pro-Tip: These are key audiences with whom to test awareness and Metaverse messaging, position your brand as a leader, and work to promote loyalty. Be aware that even within these categories, the audience trends young.
• The audience segments that were mid-high in both resources and technology use, but much lower in their excitement over these new technologies, were invariably those that did not have children in the house, such as Cyber Sophisticates and Cinemaniacs.
Pro-Tip: The Metaverse may never be a viable advertising option for some audiences. However, for these technological/no children categories, it could be integrated into a total multichannel campaign which includes more traditional digital channels.
The Metaverse and its associated industries are rapidly growing and just starting to live up to their immense potential. In fact, many large companies are beginning to invest enormous sums of money in them. And though the most popular Metaverse platforms focus on gaming, that is likely to change as the technology advances. It is a good idea to experiment to discover which Metaverse platforms and messaging can be integrated into your full multichannel marketing strategy.
Pro-Tip: It’s important to continually evaluate how and where the Metaverse is growing most rapidly in order to ultimately determine if it makes sense for your brand. Combine this constant monitoring with the ability to be nimble. IF you decide to move forward with a Metaverse strategy.
Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” From the disruption in traditional office settings to online food options to the expanding Metaverse, technology and its opportunities have been forever changed since the start of the pandemic. Now is the time to embrace those changes and to look for the next ones, as well. As a marketer within any technology space, knowing the trends, researching the data and optimizing for the right audience segments will help you lead the way.
Want more information on the trends in technology and telecommunications and the tips for developing and approaching the right audiences. Read the Claritas 2023 Technology Report.