Empowering and establishing a personal sense of control

ARTICLE
BY Susan Seto

January, 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of the release of the first iPhone. It’s hard to believe: the mobile technologies that have transformed daily life – smartphones, wearables like FitBits and Apple Watches, voice assistants – have been among us for just a decade and a half. The internet was mainstream before 2007, but it was the rise of mobile technologies that inserted the internet into much more of our daily activities, from shopping to transportation to dating. The pandemic accelerated the movement of activities online: work meetings, grocery shopping, kids’ music lessons.

Today, regardless of their products or services, businesses and brands need to think hard about what they offer online, how, and why. Digital has transformed the marketplace, and regardless of how low-tech your offering, keeping up with customers’ expectations is vital to engaging them effectively, online and offline.

About two-thirds of Canadians say they use new technologies as tools for personal control.

These consumers are embracing delivery and transportation apps, seamless one-click shopping, and other technologies that increase convenience and productivity. When technology enabled these Canadians to continue functioning reasonably well even in a global pandemic, they were all the more persuaded that their futures are digital.

A third of Canadians, however, are more wary of new technologies. When asked why they’re hesitant, privacy is a top concern. New platforms and devices may have something to offer, these Canadians reason, but the benefits are often offset by adoption hurdles or sacrifices of too much personal information.

 

Innovation & Finding The Sweet Spot

We see two important takeaways from these findings and recent trends. First, as tech becomes more deeply woven into daily life – with leading-edge tools becoming ever more seamless and convenient – users’ expectations will grow in all areas of life. It may not be fair, but customers’ experiences with top performers like Apple and Amazon shape how they see, for example, the point-of-sale experience at businesses down the street. Even if you never set out to be a tech giant, if you lag behind customer expectations, you’re at risk.

The second key takeaway is a little in tension with the first. Even as businesses work to meet growing expectations about digital experience, it’s important to be mindful of groups that are more wary and less enthusiastic in their adoption of technology and digital apps. Finding a sweet spot where you deliver innovations tech-enthusiasts want without alienating reluctant adopters is no easy feat. Every firm and brand need to think through the appetites and comfort levels of their current and prospective customers: how willing are they to adopt a new tool, how reluctant to swap personal information for convenience, how frustrated by imperfect digital experiences?

In our research we segment Canadians to understand how their values intersect with their orientations to the digital economy. Both sides of this balance – tech enthusiasts and wary adopters – come through strongly in our analysis. On the keen side, we see segments like the Leading-Edge Navigators and the Hyper-Virtual Introverts. Together these two groups make up about a quarter of the Canadian population.

Although both segments are early adopters, their enthusiasm for new technology is driven by different values. The Navigators are at ease with change and complexity, and embrace the opportunities technology affords for both status display (the latest gadget, the most enviable social posts) and for social experiences. The Introverts value technology as a protective bubble: these financially secure Canadians use tech to get the things they want while minimizing the need for social engagement.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Canadian public belong to segments who are either less keen on technology in general, or more selective about their adoption – with segments ranging from those who are confident but discriminating about digital tools to those who are nervously avoidant of the whole landscape.

 

Expressing Your Brand Digitally

No matter what your business, ignoring the changes that have taken place since Steve Jobs unveiled that first squat iPhone in 2007 is not an option. Not every business or brand has to be a tech leader itself – but everyone who wants to be competitive has to figure out how their brand expresses itself digitally (from basics like their website and point-of-sale system to e-commerce platforms or other more advanced tools). Smart businesses will also take stock of the diversity of Canadians’ orientations to technology, figure out where their customers fit, and tailor their strategies accordingly.

To learn more about our market segmentation research, specifically, the importance of determining what audiences look like, their orientations to technology, and how customers will engage with your brand in different ways, download our Digital Economy report.

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