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Survey: Consumers want fewer devices, more virtual experiences

Written on Sep 15, 2023

Deloitte unveiled the results of its 2023 Connected Consumer Survey providing insight into consumer sentiment about digital devices and technology and explore how consumers are optimizing usage, while striking a balance between digital and physical worlds.  

The study of over 2,000 U.S. consumers highlights ways that people integrate digital technologies into their lives. It captures the pulse of a populace increasingly reliant on technology for remote work, virtual education, virtual health care, fitness, communication and entertainment. Despite the complexities and potential drawbacks, consumers surveyed convey a strong sense of resilience and adaptability, even as they call for more support from tech companies to innovate and secure their digital experiences. 

While the average number of digital devices in the household dropped by four in the past two years, from 25 in 2021, to 21 in 2023, that doesn't mean consumers have less interest in devices. Instead, it indicates they are streamlining and getting rid of obsolete or less-useful devices while still purchasing new ones. There is an opportunity for tech companies to better support customers wanting to strike a balance that maximizes benefits and minimizes the drawbacks of living a connected life. 

  • 48% of surveyed consumers purchased new connected devices for their household in the past year. 

  • Among respondents, 63% expect their spending on acquiring devices to stay the same over the next 12 months, and only 7% expect to decrease spending. Nine percent (9%) plan to increase their spending. 

  • 49% of consumers delayed device purchases during the past year due to economic conditions, while 33% feel they can't afford to buy the tech devices their household needs (up from 25% in 2022). 

  • Consumers continue to grapple with managing their digital lives: 41% dislike managing their devices, and 28% feel overwhelmed by the number of devices and subscriptions they need to manage (up from 24% in 2022). 

The study found an increase in consumer actions taken to protect data privacy and security, reflecting consumers' heightened awareness and proactive stance towards digital safety. Smart home devices are indispensable to many and have become part of their daily lives — often being used to help increase home security. 

  • Among consumers surveyed, 34% were victim to at least one kind of security breach in the past year, and 16% experienced two or more. 

  • Gen Zs were more than twice as likely as boomers to have their social media account hacked (17% vs. 8%) and three times more likely than boomers to fall for an online scam (16% vs. 5%). 

  • 79% of consumers say they have taken at least one step to address their data privacy and security concerns (up from 71% in 2022). 

  • Smart home devices that most owners consider essential all relate to home safety, including smart door locks, smart smoke detectors, security systems, and doorbells with cameras. 

The study affirms that respondents would like hybrid work to stay. Many people prefer a blend of remote and in-office work and report high levels of satisfaction with this arrangement. As employees adapt to hybrid work, the need for businesses to refresh and improve tech solutions becomes more apparent. 

  • 56% of employed adults worked in a fully remote or hybrid way at their primary job over the past year (22% said they worked fully at home, and 34% split their time between in-office and at-home), and nearly half said they helped drive the decision. 

  • Many remote and hybrid workers feel that working from home has improved their relationships and emotional well-being. Among respondents, 45% said working from home caused family relationships to improve and 40% said it improved their emotional well-being. 

More than 6 in 10 Gen Zs and more than half of millennials are interested in learning by viewing or interacting with 3D objects or representations; traveling to places of interest virtually; meeting with friends and family in 3D spaces; attending 3D virtual entertainment events; and shopping in 3D stores. 

Almost 1 in 5 respondents surveyed (17%) said they have experimented with generative Al or used it for projects/tasks: Of these, 72% used it for personal purposes, 21% for school/education, and 20% for their job/professional purposes. Seventy-two percent plan to keep using it. 

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