The crises of 2020 turbocharged consumers’ technology adoption and usage. While the pace of change is impressive, consumers’ swift adaptation to life among screens is not entirely radical. Over 23 years of Forrester Analytics’ Consumer Technographics® data has proven that consumers have an insatiable capacity to adopt and use technologies that expand the four forces of their evolution: tools, coordination, conversation, and emotion.

Yet with such drastic acceleration of digital behavior in such a short span of time, consumers are psychologically still catching up. In 2021, consumers are struggling to reconcile their need for technology with their hesitation to rely on it.

  • Consumers are doubling down on technology usage and investment … When the pandemic halted the bustle of society in its tracks, technology became a lifeline: As quickly as April 2020, over half of consumers in the US, UK, and France were spending more time online than they ever had before, had tried at least one new online behavior for the first time, and invested in upgrading their technology. Globally, consumers say they are now more convinced that technology is having a positive impact on their lives.
  • … yet consumers have conflicting emotions toward technology that create tension. The whirlwind pace of consumers’ gadget-grabbing doesn’t mean that they enjoy using technology any more than they did in the past— only 23% of US consumers say they enjoy using personal devices more than they did before. The majority of US consumers feel ambivalent about their personal technology, and 21% lament that their attitude toward digital transactions has turned more negative. Furthermore, despite the rise of virtual happy hours and regular family FaceTimes, a third of US and UK consumers feel that digital tools such as social media, video calls, and texting have not made them feel as connected to friends and family as they had hoped. Acute technology fatigue is driving more than a third of US, UK, and French consumers to wish for the ability to disconnect from their personal devices.

Marketing through the next phases of the pandemic and its economic repercussions is essential, and post-pandemic recovery will rest on empathy — how thoughtfully brands prioritize consumer well-being and empowerment. As marketers shift their budgets and efforts to digital channels, they must also consider how consumers’ emotional context will influence consumer reception.

My recent report, “The State Of Consumers And Technology, 2020,” applies decades of consumer data to examine how consumers feel about their use of technology and what kinds of relationships they develop with different device experiences. Read this report to make sense of current device adoption behavior and emotion and to trace how consumer perceptions of technology are evolving in the US, UK, and France. As always, I look forward to discussing your questions and ideas via Forrester inquiry.

Discover the future of customer behavior and customer journey management at the CX North America live virtual experience, June 7-9, 2021.