Tuning into the Connected Consumer Radar

New survey charts the post-pandemic market for connected devices

The connected consumer has changed a lot over the past year. The pandemic caused a long and deep disruption to lives, which in turn has significantly changed people’s behaviour, values and attitudes toward technology.

In 2020, battered old laptops were dusted off to be used for remote work and home schooling; tablets were rediscovered as productivity devices, rather than just something to entertain the kids; smartwatches were recognized as fitness devices; TVs and games consoles flew off the shelves; and demand for premium smartphones stood strong despite economic uncertainty.

We now face questions about how consumers will behave in the post-pandemic world. How will appetites for spending change as economies fully reopen? Will spending shift from high tech to holidays? Which devices do consumers hold dear, and does this come at the expense of other gadgets? How will greater awareness of the need to consume in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways affect demand?

To answer these questions, CCS Insight is launching a new Connected Consumer Radar service.

Connected Consumer Radar is a recurring survey of consumers in several markets that highlights trends and uncovers early signals about changes in consumer attitudes and purchasing behaviour related to 26 categories of connected devices: 18 established ones like mobile phones, tablets, virtual reality headsets and smart speakers, and eight up-and-coming gadget types such as smart glasses and smart tags.

Data from our pilot has just landed, and I’m keen to share what makes this service different, as well as a few early snippets that I find intriguing.

A holistic, multidevice view

Connected Consumer Radar tracks the ownership, usage and value attributed to 18 categories of established connected devices. It’s no longer enough to understand just a single product category, as people own several devices and juggle budgets between them.

As people add more gadgets to their home and personal life, we delve into how this affects the value they place on each device: some will rise, some will fall out of favour.

  • The average US household owns 8.8 connected devices.
  • Consumers in the US, UK and Spain value their mobile phones the most out of all the connected devices they own, whereas those in Germany rank their smart TVs marginally higher than their mobile phones.

Purchase and upgrade intentions

Connected Consumer Radar tracks purchasing intentions for devices that households already own, highlighting the difference between upgrading an existing device and adding a new one to their collection. We track also buying intentions for devices that people don’t yet own.

Some devices capture people’s imagination and get replaced with the latest model every few years; others are used for as long as they work. We take the pulse of people’s expectations for the useful life of each category of device they own.

  • Smart doorbells beat smart TVs to the top spot on the wish lists of US and UK consumers who don’t yet own such products.
  • 44% of German mobile phone owners expect a new mobile phone to last at least five years before it stops working properly.

Novel connected devices

The consumer tech industry never stands still and new device categories emerge all the time. Our new service gauges awareness of, interest in and ownership of a wide range of devices, some of which will fail and some of which will one day become a normal part of life. The pilot wave includes eight such categories, ranging from pet trackers to smart tags and robot window cleaners.

  • 61% of Spanish consumers have heard of smart glasses.
  • Only 7% of German consumers own a smart domestic appliance and a mere 7% believe they’ll own one in the future.

Pandemic effect

One of the most important areas of our Connected Consumer Radar for now detects the effects of the pandemic on people’s ownership and usage of connected devices as well as on the value they place on these products.

Our focus is on people’s expectations for post-pandemic times. We’re mindful that the pandemic effect is uneven and different segments of the population have been affected in different ways.

  • 36% of smartwatch owners in the US value their device more now than before the pandemic.
  • This summer, British, German and Spanish people are likely to spend less money on connected devices than in the last pre-pandemic summer of 2019.

Care for the environment

As awareness of the environmental crisis widens, people are becoming more conscientious of their actions and consumption. We track consumers’ attitudes toward and intentions for buying used (pre-owned) devices, as well as their appetite for repairing rather than replacing devices when they stop working, and not least, how they assess the environmental efforts of big tech companies.

  • 86% of Spanish consumers would like to be able to repair some of their connected devices at a reasonable cost.
  • 45% of German consumers are open to buying second-hand connected devices in the future.

Our Consumer Connected Radar covers a lot more ground, and I will share further insights soon. Stay tuned also for details on our upcoming webinar in July.

To learn more about CCS Insight’s Connected Consumer Radar, please get in touch.