Australians’ use of all things digital has tended to lag their peers in the Indo-Pacific region, but all that’s changing as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The level of online commerce is lower in Australia than in the US or Europe, but the gap is closing fast, says business consultancy McKinsey. The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown was what made the difference – simply put, Australians had little choice but to go online during lockdown.

While it’s too early to be certain which new consumer habits will persist, says McKinsey, its initial data “on consumer uptake of digital technologies, matched with historical parallels, points to significant changes for the digital sector”.

McKinsey’s Consumer Insights Pulse Survey shows Australians are consuming more digital media than ever before.

And this isn’t confined to extra time on the couch watching movies. Restrictions forced Australians to try an array of new online experiences, from shopping to new digital interactions, like video-enabled “hangs” with friends, as well as online fitness and telemedicine.

Even grocery shopping – a sector that has had to overcome logistical challenges, and sporadic availability of some products – left more than 60% of consumers who used it “very satisfied”. 

High satisfaction levels with online services previously widely regarded with skepticism are a good pointer to the number of people who will carry on keep using those services post lockdown, McKinsey says. 

The new enthusiasm for online isn’t confined to Gen Z, either. The data shows that 75% of Gen Xers have shopped online for non-food products in the past two weeks, and of those more than 40% are shopping more in the wake of the pandemic. And the same is true for the use of tools such as media content and social media.

Thirty-four percent of Gen Xers and 28% of Baby Boomers say they have increased their usage of these tools since the lockdown began.

McKinsey says the findings challenge the argument that the Australian consumer only values the bricks-and-mortar experience and doesn’t want to change. 

McKinsey poses the question: that, after so many new users have been trying e-commerce, liking it, and reporting that they will continue to use it, has momentum finally shifted?

“One thing that is certain is that Australian businesses have a lot of big moves to consider, so it’s worth exploring what it would take for them to go on an accelerated digital journey,” the report says.

Sourced from McKinsey