Consumers sceptical of tech

26 April 2012

NEW YORK: People feel ambivalent about the digital devices that are reshaping their media and purchase habits, a global Euro RSCG study has shown.

According to This Digital Life, based on a survey conducted with research firm Market Probe International in 19 countries, almost half (42%) of consumers believe it is "too soon to tell" whether or not the new devices will have a bad effect on society. A further 10% already believe that the impact of the technology will be negative.

Online security was a particular area of concern, with a majority of Euro RSCG poll respondents suggesting that tech developments are "robbing us of our privacy", and around 60% saying that it is "wrong" for people to share a lot of their personal experiences and feelings on the public web.

Meanwhile, 58% said they were concerned that people are "losing the ability to engage in civil debate".

In terms of platforms, social media came in for particular criticism, with one in four poll respondents saying that sites such as Facebook and Twitter were making them "less satisfied" with their lives. This total went up to one in three Millennials – traditionally viewed as the generation most open to the digital revolution.

"Our Culture of More and digital lifestyles have proved unsatisfying and unsettling for many," the report added. "We're going to see more of a push for a sort of 'hybrid' way of living that combines the best of the old and new — keeping current conveniences while holding fast to those traditions and values that are in danger of disappearing."

Euro RSCG also offered insights into consumer spending trends in its report. The survey indicated that around 40% of consumers would be happier if they "owned less stuff".

Marketers will have to adapt their communications to suit this consumer mood, specifically in "helping people feel a greater sense of control and security," the report added.

"People are looking to replace hyperconsumption and artificiality with a way of living that offers more meaning and more intangible rewards — even as they wish to maintain the modern conveniences upon which they've grown reliant."

Commenting on the results, Tom Morton, chief strategic officer at Euro RSCG New York, said: "As marketers, we have a dual role to play — to assuage people's concerns about privacy and to create more meaningful connections."

Data sourced from Euro RSCG; additional content by Warc staff