Technology: Trends and insights round-up for 2023
January 5th, 2024, Lesley Simeon

Technology: Trends and insights round-up for 2023

With 2024 now upon us, we review the top tech trends and insights from the year gone by. Our research largely falls under three themes:

  • New technologies and consumers’ attitudes towards such tech
  • Spending on tech products and factors determining tech purchases
  • Consumers’ online interactions with tech brands

Attitudes towards new technology – not an entirely pretty picture

A discussion on how 2023 panned out for technology isn’t complete without mention of the technologies that dominated headlines and attracted acclamation and worry in more or less equal measure - artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and the metaverse.

Artificial Intelligence

We asked consumers which industries they think artificial intelligence or AI-based technology could help improve processes and services the most. YouGov data reveals that consumers are most likely to say AI will make things better in two sectors:

But there are differing appetites around the world. Consumers in markets including Mexico (58%), Hong Kong (55%) and Spain (55%) are much more likely to say that AI will make diagnosing medical diseases better, than those in, for example, the US (27%).

As for building travel itineraries, those in the UAE (60%) and Hong Kong (57%) are much more likely to say AI will make the process better compared to Americans (23%) and Brits (28%).Conversely, the public is least likely to believe AI technology will make things better when it comes to managing personal finances (25%) and driving a car or other vehicles (30%). Notably, just 9% of Americans say they would feel safe in a driverless car.

As for specific tasks that respondents feel AI might do a better job of executing than humans, nearly three in ten Britons cite offering technical support (29%), closely followed by writing copy/pages for websites (28%), accounting (28%) and software development/engineering (26%).

Not just consumers, brands too seem to think offering audiences technical support is a task better left to AI, as evidenced by the string of ChatGPT-powered chatbots launches this past year:

Read: How brands like Opera, Mercedes Benz, Snapchat, Priceline hopped on to the chatbot bandwagon.

Read: Google launched its own conversational AI service to rival ChatGPT

Consumers also feel AI chatbots will be most useful when buying electronics (16%) and mobile phones (16%) online.

Let’s now dive into the concerns.

Most consumers across markets say they are worried about the potential of recent technological developments like robots potentially taking over jobs, gene editing and self-driving cars. As for generative artificial intelligence, more than two in five consumers (45%) are worried about it. Concerns about generative AI are the most prevalent in markets like Indonesia and India, with nearly three in five consumers in these regions saying they are worried about the tech.

Concerns about AI technology also fuels consumers’ sentiments about brands being transparent about their use of the technology. More than two in five consumers across all markets we survey (44%) say brands and businesses should be transparent when using AI to interact with consumers. Further, men are more likely than women (46% vs. 43%) to say so. While Britons account for the largest proportion of consumers (59%) who expect transparency from brands on AI use, Indonesians are the least likely to share this view. 

When it comes to what companies feel about AI, attitudes aren’t uniform across the board.

For example, a significant proportion of large businesses (63%) feel AI advancements are a good thing for them. Comparatively, the sentiment doesn’t find many takers among small (32%) and micro (20%) businesses. Similarly, large businesses are more likely (30%) than small (21%) and micro businesses (12%) to consider using tools like ChatGPT to replace human workers.

Over a quarter of consumers across markets are worried about a potential AI takeover of their jobs. A greater proportion of consumers (51%) are worried about robots taking over their jobs. Consumers in Indonesia are the most worried about losing their jobs to machines in the next 10 years.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, metaverse

2023 was quite an eventful year for virtual reality, augmented reality and of course, the metaverse as well - brands like Revolut, J. Crew and Valentino (to name a few) wanted a piece of these technologies. Let’s look into YouGov data published this past year that throws light on consumers’ take on these technologies.

In all the markets we survey, appetite for virtual reality has grown in 2023 compared to 2022. More than a third of consumers across markets say they would be interested in watching movies in 3D virtual reality (up from 29% in 2022), followed by attending live performances (28% in 2023, up from 22% in 2022).

Read: Tech Britons can’t live without

As for the metaverse, YouGov data shows that over a third of consumers across 17 international markets say they have heard about the metaverse but know nothing about it. Less than a third of consumers (32%) say they know a little about it and two in ten consumers (20%) say they have never heard of it. Just 7% of all consumers say they know a lot about the metaverse.

YouGov’s demographic data shows that 25-to-34-year-olds are most likely to say they know a lot about the metaverse (20%). Similarly, Indians (16%) and consumers in the UAE (15%) are the most likely across markets to say they know a lot, while the Danes (50%) and Swedes (46%) are the most likely to say they have never heard of the metaverse.

Download the latest YouGov report on the metaverse that explores:

  • The top reasons people are entering the Metaverse
  • Which brands resonate most with Metaverse Trialists & Metaverse Curious audience segments
  • The activities, attitudes, and desires driving current and potential users into the Metaverse
  • The motivations and concerns of various audiences across the Metaverse adoption cycle

Non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency 

A number of brands also moved to create NFT and cryptocurrency-focused activations for their audiences, even though data shows that nearly half of all consumers across markets (47%) say they have never heard of NFTs. A quarter of them have heard of NFTs but don’t know what they really are and 7% know exactly what they are. Further, just one  percent of consumers own an NFT.

Nonetheless, appetite for these kind of technologies among consumers is up - in spite of the not-so-encouraging headlines that dominated news in recent times. For example, 16% of Americans see NFTs as a good investment - over double the figure (7%) reported in 2022. But a third of Americans think it’s a bad investment (33%) and roughly half of them are on the fence (51%).

Read: Cryptocurrency appeal up among Americans

Cost-of-living pushes consumers to reconsider sustainable electronics purchases

Inflation across several markets and subsequent price hikes and budget reconsiderations made news for most of 2023. Notably, a YouGov piece published early 2023 revealed how most consumers across markets expected to make cuts to their household budgets this past year.

What’s more, YouGov data published in October this year also details that fewer than two in ten consumers anticipate increased spending on mobile phones (14%) and other electronics (12%) in the coming six months. Among those who do anticipate increased spending in these categories, Asians are more likely to do so compared to Europeans.

Although consumers expect to spend more on electronics at large, inflationary pressures are edging out sustainable electronics in particular. When asked about which environmentally-friendly products would they cut back on when faced by inflation-induced budget squeezes, nearly half of all consumers (48%) cited consumers electronics, followed by smartphones (46%).

But no surprise here - most consumers (69%) anyway feel that eco-friendly products almost always have a higher price tag than the regular ones. Further, three in five consumers across markets (60%) agree that they prioritize price over sustainability when making purchases - a sentiment echoed most by consumers in Singapore (69%) followed by those in the US (66%) and Hong Kong (66%).

Even when it comes to treating themselves with little luxuries, notwithstanding constrained budgets, consumers prioritise categories like personal care, clothing and travel over electronics or gadgets. For instance, just one in ten consumers (10%) say they would prioritise tech products for themselves, even on a budget.

Nonetheless, 41% of consumers in Great Britain and 39% of consumers in the US are sustainability supporters, while 39% of Brits and 33% of Americans are sustainability oriented.

Greater proportions of consumers across all our markets say that tech companies are not doing enough to reduce their environmental impact

Continuing the sustainability theme, brands need to take note of another consumer sentiment – that the tech industry isn’t doing enough to minimize its environmental impact. More than half of all consumers across markets (51%) feel this industry isn’t doing enough, and consumers in France (64%) and Indonesia (61%) are most likely to say so.

Also read: Samsung LG Appliances and Whirlpool among appliance brands eco-conscious Americans favour the most.

Brand value, functionality, warranty – top factors guiding consumers’ tech purchases

Among the range of considerations consumers factor in when shopping at a store or through a screen, the choice between generic and branded products is inevitable and most times, tricky. Not quite when it comes to tech products, our data shows. Over two in five consumers (45%) across all the markets we survey opt for mostly branded tech products and over a quarter of them (26%) choose branded and generic versions equally.

Brand value isn’t the only factor consumers are considering when shopping for tech products. Functionality of the product and value for money are the top two factors guiding consumers’ choice of their favorite cell phone brands. Notably, customer service is a factor just 2% of consumers across all markets consider when deciding on favorite cell phone brands.

Product warranty or a maintenance plan is another factor consumers overwhelmingly vote for when buying tech items like appliances (76%), electronics (72%) and mobile phones (72%). Our data shows that women are more likely than men to say a product warranty or maintenance plan is important when buying tech items.

Last year, a number of brands recalled some of their products for a number of concerns - something that consumers don’t take lightly, our data shows. In Great Britain, for example, less than a third of consumers (32%) across markets say they are unlikely to buy electronics from brands again if a product they purchased from them were recalled. A quarter of consumers (25%) are unlikely to buy mobile phones from a brand again if the product was recalled.

Tech brands need to up their digital experience game

Digital is an important channel for brands today to approach and engage their customers. But a trend that emerged last year was consumers’ dissatisfaction with the digital experiences offered by businesses across sectors - compared to YouGov data reported in 2022, not one sector seemed to have delighted their consumers more in 2023.

Technology manufacturers were among sectors whose digital experiences consumers are least happy with. YouGov data shows that just two in ten consumers across all markets we survey are happy with the experiences offered in 2023 - down from the 23% figure reported last year.

Online: An important realm for product discovery, product reviews 

Online reigns when it comes to discovering electronics and cell phones, YouGov data from the past year shows. Online reviews, online ads and social media interactions (in that order) are helping consumers discover new electronics and cell phones the most. Across all our markets, Britons (30%) are most likely to discover electronics through online reviews, while Germans (16%) are least likely too. Online advertising seems to work best for consumers in South America, while Indonesians (30%) are most likely to discover new electronics via social media.

Over a quarter of consumers (26%) also flock to social media for reviews on gadgets and electronics. Younger consumers i.e. 18-to-24-year-olds are the most likely (36%) to do so, while consumers aged 55 years and above are the least likely to. As for individual markets, consumers in India account for the largest proportion of consumers (54%) who take to social media reviews of gadgets and electronics.

Consumers aren’t too trusting of tech companies with their personal data

A major theme YouGov data explored this past year was about how trusting consumers are of companies with their personal data. While levels of trust in tech companies when it comes to personal data has stayed largely the same since between 2022 and 2023 (40% vs. 41%), the level of distrust has inched upwards – from 46% in 2022 to 48% in 2023.

Tech layoffs

The layoffs-train chugged through arguably every business sector across the globe this past year and the tech space was no exception. Companies like Indeed, Shopify and Zoom announced layoffs earlier this year and we dove into data from YouGov’s BrandIndex to see how these developments impacted their respective companies’ performance or brand health. Read more here:

-Has Zoom seen more or less customers in recent years?

-What impact did layoffs at Shopify have on the brand?

-How has Indeed’s brand health looked like in recent years?

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