Data shows that since Feb 29th (first U.S. COVID-19-related death), Americans have drastically changed the way they use the internet
o Desktop users have increased roughly 21% compared to mobile users
o Zoom has 3x more daily app sessions than Microsoft Teams (Zoom 6mm, Teams 2mm)
o Streaming sports / e-sports have increased while real sports (ESPN) have decreased
o Within a matter of weeks Americans have shifted to virtual grocery shopping, remote
work meetings, and electing e-sports and streaming services over the real thing - there is
no doubt that the internet has experienced a change to last a generation
Ask yourself, “what has been the biggest change in my online behavior since COVID-19?” How many changes come to mind for you?
When I completed this exercise I immediately thought about:
1) my heavy reliance on my laptop, over mobile;
2) the Amazon Fresh grocery orders straight to our door (but has since been suspended due to demand by vulnerable populations);
3) ordering out most nights via restaurant websites;
4) and my new best friend Zoom.
The data shows – courtesy of NYT – that many Americans share in my experiences of the “new digital normal.” Many of these services, including Amazon Fresh (online grocery delivery), Zoom, HouseParty, and Netflix/Hulu/HBO Go all existed well before February 29th, 2020. However, with the rapidly changing and drastic consequences of COVID-19, the entire world was forced to change their behavior online and adapt to necessities. For example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many grocery stores had no accommodated special shopping hours for senior citizens yet. This forced Americans – out of necessity, rather than convenience – to change their relationship with technology. I’ve heard many friends in 2019 say “grocery delivery would be nice, but I’m not sure about it.” Many of those who once shared that sentiment have now switched to frantically downloading grocery delivery apps to their devices. For example, Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt have seen their daily downloads surge by 218%, 160% and 124% when comparing March downloads to February. Better buy some stock in grocery delivery – one thought I have never had before.
In rapidly evolving times where we feel like we’ve lived 5 years in the span of two months, I urge you to think – both as a business and consumer – what can I do to adapt in today’s changing digital environment. Is it downloading new video conferencing apps for your business? Or perhaps just switching to online bill pay and electronic payments.
Unsure about switching to digital? Consider the following example: as many of you know and expect, the $1,200 CARES Act stimulus check will be distributed to Americans who made less than $95,000 (stimulus amount varies) in the next few weeks. Those who elected to supply their direct deposit details to the IRS will receive their money electronically up to 1 month faster than those who opted for a paper check on their 2018/2019 tax returns. Many of the “old school ways” or “fundamental” features of our daily lives are proven to be ineffective in a time of crisis, as people who wanted a paper check will experience significant delays in emergency funding. Give digital a chance!