When the spread of COVID-19 in the United States sparked nationwide shutdowns of schools and businesses, technology—including hardware, software, and internet connectivity—became essential.1 People relied on technology to do their work, learn in virtual classrooms, meet with health care providers, and connect with friends and family.2 And for the most part, technologies like the internet held up.3
Many consumers acknowledge the positive aspects of working and schooling from home, according to Deloitte’s recent 2021 Connectivity and Mobile Trends Survey.4 Many consumers appreciated that being able to do these things from home reduced their chances of getting COVID-19 and eliminated their commute. Some reported simply being more comfortable at home.
But all of that technology and connectivity took a toll on some consumers, according to the survey. About a third of US consumers (32%) say that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have felt overwhelmed by the number of devices and subscriptions they need to manage. This figure—and the feelings of overwhelm—is higher among parents who have minor children at home (43%) and adults who were working from home at the time of data collection (40%).
Aside from just demographic differences, another factor also appears to indicate consumer overwhelm: the number of devices and subscriptions in the household. That is, as the number of devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops, tablets) and subscriptions, technology services, and software (e.g., home internet, streaming video services, gaming services, office software subscriptions) in the home goes up, so too does the likelihood that a consumer will feel overwhelmed by managing it all.
These technology-related frustrations could present challenges for companies who still have services, subscriptions, and devices to sell to these consumer households. Also, with many children returning to the classroom and some workers heading back to their offices soon, it remains to be seen how consumer behavior will shift in the post-pandemic world.
Will these frustrations persist, prompting consumers to clean up the device and subscription clutter accumulating in their homes? Or is the worst of tech-related frustration behind us? Either way, companies have an opportunity to leverage technology to provide solutions.
Reduce the friction. Technology may be a source of overwhelm for some consumers, but it can also be used as a means for easing frustration and confusion. How can your company leverage technology to help consumers simplify the tasks related to managing their devices and subscriptions? Can you offer them a more streamlined management system?
Diversify offerings. Some consumers may be hesitant to accumulate more devices, due to either environmental concerns or out of a desire to simplify the technology footprint in their households. Are there ways to expand digital offerings—and to continue generating revenue—to engage even those who aren’t interested in new “stuff”?
Leverage existing customers. While consumers may be hesitant to add more devices and subscriptions to their household’s tech ecosystem, they might be more willing to adopt technology that’s linked to the brands and services they already have. Is there a way to treat existing customers like new leads?
Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry practice brings together one of the world’s largest group of specialists respected for helping shape many of the world’s most recognized TMT brands—and helping those brands thrive in a digital world.