In 2020 and so far in 2021 we have witnessed in the world, in an accelerated way and in some cases forced, an accelerated and massive assimilation of new technologies in all areas of life on the planet. It has been an adaptive response to the restrictions in our daily lives that COVID has imposed on the lives of all human beings.
The changes we predicted 10 years from now have occurred in 6 weeks…Ben Hammersley, editor of Wired magazine
As the editor of the interesting magazine Wired rightly states, the world discovered that trips to the future do exist … in 6 weeks we are 10 years ahead of us in the full and obligatory assimilation of new technologies. That causes many social phenomena that are still under study by practitioners of human behavior. An immediate one, which is already well documented, is the sudden change in human consumption patterns. We are sure some of these changes will be temporary, but many others are here to stay. The consequence: markets have been transformed … and there are many who have not yet found out.
The cycle of adoption of new technologies is presented in the form of a Gaussian bell, like many other phenomena in nature, which shows the adoption curve and approximate determined percentages for each category of users. In the graph, blue represents consumer groups adopting a new technology and yellow is the market share that obviously reaches 100% after full adoption. This is the saturation point of the market.
Everett Rogers, in his founding work “Diffusion of Innovations” classifies users in a series of psychographic profiles based on a main variable: their response to discontinuity and their propensity to adopt innovation. According to Everett Rogers, not everyone will immediately adopt a disruptive idea despite the obvious benefits, but they will gradually do so by being able to group them into categories. Rogers gave these user categories the now classic names Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards, ordered from highest to lowest willingness to accept innovation. Something important to clarify is that these groups can be made up of individuals or companies.
Something not represented in the graph above is the massive “non-adoption” of new technologies due to a large number of factors, primarily dependent on the value proposition of the technology itself, but also dependent on variables exogenous to the product, such as the market and its resistance to the massive adoption of some disruptive proposals. In the graveyard of innovations there are many initiatives buried.
However, those that are adopted under normal conditions are not immediately adopted by the market. There are the following categories of adopters:
Innovators are the first people to adopt an innovation. The innovators are willing to take risks, the youngest, have the highest social class, have great financial clarity, are very social and have a closer contact with scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Risk tolerance leads them to adopt technologies that may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures.
This is the second fastest category of individuals to adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of thought leadership among the other categories of adopters. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have higher social status, have more financial clarity, advanced education, and are more socially advanced than late adopters. More discreet in adoption options than innovators. Making a wise adoption choice will help you maintain a central communication position.
Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This adoption time is significantly longer than that of innovators and early adopters. The Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, to have above-average social status, contact with early adopters, and rarely have thought leadership positions in a system.
Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation later than the average member of society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and after the majority of society has embraced the innovation. The Late Majority is typically skeptical about an innovation, has a below-average social status, very little financial clarity, in contact with others in a late majority and early majority, very little thought leadership.
Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some of the previous categories, individuals in this category show little or no thought leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change agents and tend to be advanced in age. In general, the laggards tend to focus on the ‘traditions’, who probably have the lowest social status, the lowest financial fluency, are the oldest of all other adopters, are in contact only with family and close friends , and they have little or no thought leadership.
In an exceptional way we are witnessing a generalized irruption in all areas of life on our planet, suddenly, in an obligatory way, in a massive way, we have resorted to the lifeline of technology to be able to face the difficulties imposed by the COVID pandemic.
By subsistence these 5 groups of assimilation of new technologies (Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards) had to adopt in a very short time, in their daily lives, a large amount of technology to be able to continue working … or better said … to subsist.
But that that they adopted it is very inaccurate. There are a large number of people and companies that are going to be or have already been (and have not realized) out of the game.
However, many people and companies have realized that not everything is so bad, technologies, behavior patterns and relationships mediated by technology that they previously rejected, that for subsistence they was had to incorporate and assimilate in a short time are not so bad or inadequate as they believed. At all levels, there is a massive change in consumption patterns.
Now that we consider what the world will be like after the pandemic, there is one thing we know for sure: many of our old habits have changed and, in many cases, forever.
To make an accurate diagnosis we will turn to our friendly, always present and willing friend GOOGLE. Google Trends offers us very useful insights on these changes in consumer habits.
Thousands of Google searches in Europe, Latin America, Central America, North America, the Middle East and Africa reveal fascinating insights about a new way of living, studying, working, playing and shopping. The insights we extract from Google Trends indicate that we have massively broken old habits, established patterns of behavior that governed our daily routine before the pandemic. Below we will tell you the keys to the change that Google communicates to us in our habits, within the everyday context.
Our learning habits have gone online and we have embraced the strategy of meeting our needs at home ourselves. Interest in skill searches has increased, such as “how to cut hair” in the UK and “how to make a robot” in Nigeria. This is because we have had to adapt to studying at home and spending time in home confinement learning new things. While some people were looking for ways to manage their daily tasks, others were looking for ideas to combat boredom. Now many more people are aware of how easy it is to learn online and figure out how to do things yourself, so these quests for knowledge are expected to continue.
Since shopping was impossible for most of the past year, our shopping and searching habits have changed. Consumers have turned to the Internet for inspiration. For this reason, interest has increased in searches such as “bathroom ideas” (“badezimmer ideen” in Germany) and “home gym ideas” in Spain. Even when brick-and-mortar stores reopen, we hope that finding ideas online will continue to be one of the first steps on the consumer buying journey.
There are many people who do not intend to return to their old 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. workday, since telecommuting has been a discovery during the pandemic. Searches like “adjustable high table” (“höj och sänkbart skrivbord” in Sweden) and “comfortable office chair” (“fauteuil de bureau ergonomique” in France) show that we are preparing for the long term. We have also rethought the balance between work and family time, looking for new ways to disconnect. We have searched for how to disconnect from work with searches such as “woodland walks near me” (“woodland walks near me” in the UK) or “virtual gym” in Spain. Although some new customs, such as “virtual museum visit” (“visit virtuelle musée” in France), are likely to revert to the traditional way when local regulations allow, there are others that have shown how convenient virtual “outings” are and that they are here to stay.
We have had to find new ways to communicate and connect with others from home, which is why the search interest in “games to play with friends” has increased in Spain. Many of us have also joined new online communities: interest in searches such as “virtual choirs” (“virtual choirs” in the UK), “virtual classroom” in Spain and even “virtual regatta” (“virtual regatta ” in France). Although most of us have wanted to hug our loved ones in person, many of these online communities are probably still around in some form. After all, we’ve become familiar with socializing on a screen in the last year. It will not be the way to connect with others after the pandemic, but it has become the custom to maintain contact.
As we had fewer options to have fun in the traditional way, we have looked for new things to do, such as “online board games” (“jeux de société en ligne” in France) or “sushi at home” in Spain. As confinement lengthened, we shifted from short-term entertainment to long-term vital decisions, as evidenced by the increased search interest for “adopting a dog” (“adottare un cane” in Italy). Fun fact: 11% of British households have adopted a new pet during the pandemic. Even now that we can have fun again in a more traditional way, some of these changes in our daily lives are going to hold up in the long run.
Now that we consider what the world will be like after the pandemic, what we know for sure is that consumer behaviors will continue to change rapidly. New needs will arise. The patterns we already have will settle. And companies will have to be prepared to deal with this acceleration.
In order to recommend in this article what kind of aspects companies and individuals should take into account to adapt to the new times to come, we could say in summary that adopting ubiquity as the main characteristic of our radius of action and business models is good advice. Additionally, the massive adoption of new technologies will progressively eliminate intermediaries and bring producers (of anything: goods, ideas, knowledge, services) closer to consumers, so if you or your company make a living as intermediaries between parties, then think about how to reinvent yourself.
It is important that you adapt your strategy and business model to be able to cope with changes in consumer behavior. You have tools at your disposal that will allow you to focus your strategy on statistics and trends. Google Trends shows increases in search interest in real time. In addition, the new Google Ads Statistics page highlights relevant insights for your business with which you can quickly identify new opportunities.
We will continue to see an acceleration in behavior and unexpected changes. However, we will be ready for the future if we start looking for solutions now. We must understand that the world was transported to the future and there it will stay, it is you and your company who must adapt … and yes you can!