Researchers often focus on gathering facts – who, what, when, where, how many – as a way of uncovering insights. The Dynata’s 2020 Global Trends Report adds context to reveal the underlying attitudes and trends in behavior that bring research data and insights to life, helping brands and agencies add perspective to their data through the lens of trends.
For the 2020 Global Trends Report, Dynata expands the scope of topics to offer greater insight into how consumers engage with today’s world, especially given the pace of changing trends and tastes. This year’s report focuses Technology Trends, Consumer Sentiment, Trust and Privacy and Media Diet and examines new topics such as the attention economy, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, sidepreneurship and the gig economy.
We decided to split the digest of the report into 4 posts starting with Technology Trends. We hope you find it informative and insightful.
Baby Boomers – people born immediately after WWII (1946) up until 1964. This generation spans approximately 18 years and, in 2020, comprises people between the ages of 55 and 73.
Gen X – this is often considered to end between the late Seventies and the beginning of the Eighties. The definition follows this convention, placing those born between 1965 and 1981 into Gen X, currently aged 39 to 54.
Millennials – the generation after Gen X. It is called the Millennial generation because the first of them came of age at the turn of the century. 1996 is a common endpoint, which we have adopted in the report. Thus, they are aged to 23 to 38.
Gen Z – the latest generation starts at 1997. Many of these are still too young to be interviewed for market research, so this year’s report includes about half of this cohort, currently aged 16 to 22.
AI & ROBOTS
The belief that robots and AI technology will replace jobs in the future is growing in some generations, with 43% of Gen Z’ers thinking it extremely or very likely it will happen to their job. This opinion is significantly lower among the older generations, with only a fifth of Baby Boomers seeing it as extremely or very likely that their work will be done by AI or a robot.
Opinions on this topic are more consistent by country in 2020. The highest acceptance is in China with 54% believing it’s extremely or very likely AI or a robot could do their work, followed by France at 31%, Japan and Germany 30%, the UK 27%, Canada and the US 26%, Australia 25% and the Netherlands at 20%.
Younger people are slightly more positive about this than their older peers, with 29% of Gen Z saying the world would be a better place if this happened, compared to 21% of Baby Boomers. By country the scores hover around 20% for each country, with Japan and China as the two outliers of positivity at 35% and 54%, respectively.
MEETINGS AT WORK
Three-quarters of our working participants report they have some type of business meetings. This was consistent across all countries except for Japan, where only 55% had meetings, and China, where almost everyone (93%) had meetings of some sort.
In addition to frequency, the participants in those meetings differed for China and Japan; 84% of workers in China hold meetings with colleagues, compared to only 47% of Japanese. For the other countries in the study, this number was close to two-thirds. Client meetings were held by close to three in 10, again higher in China and slightly lower in Japan.
More interesting is the form that these meetings take, and it changes by generation. Face-to-face meetings are more common among older generations with Baby Boomers reporting 70% of their meetings being conducted in-person only. This compared to just half of Gen Z’s meetings. Predictably, the percentage drops for Gen X to 62% of meetings face-to-face, with Millennials lower still at 54%.
Japan’s unique business culture is highlighted by the fact that 70% of all meetings are face-to-face only. For other countries, this figure ranges from around half in China and the US to around 60% in the UK, France, Canada, and Germany.
BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE
Employees, often to the dismay of IT departments, like to use their personal devices for work purposes. This phenomenon has a name, “Bring Your Own Device” (or BYOD), and is a widespread practice changing the modern work environment.
50% of working people in the sample use a laptop at work, and of this group, seven out of 10 use their personal laptop, although not necessarily exclusively. This rises to 80% of Gen Z’ers compared to two-thirds of Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers.
The BYOD phenomenon is even more common with smartphones, with half of those we asked using a smartphone for work purposes and almost eight out of 10 of them using their own device. BYOD is a trend seen all over the world and for all devices, even desktop PCs.
Across the generations we observe around 3% of Baby Boomers considering themselves among the first to adopt technology; this increases to 8% of Gen X’ers, peaks at 13% of Millennials before dropping slightly to 12% of Gen Z’ers.
When looking at early adopters of technology – those who adapt quite quickly – 49% of Gen Z’ers falling into this category, followed by Millennials at 47%, Gen X’ers at 36%, and 25% of Baby Boomers.
DEVICE USAGE AND INTERNET OF THINGS
In 2020 we can expect to see the range of connected devices continue to grow in the marketplace. While some, like 3D printers, have commercial/industrial applications as well as consumer ones, most of the devices we looked at are directly consumer-facing. We have deliberately chosen to look at less wellestablished product classes to see if they develop into the mainstream or remain a niche product, or perhaps die away altogether.
While they have yet to make their way into people’s homes at scale, 3D printers may become more mainstream as prices come down and utility increases. Gartner’s Hype Cycle for 3D printing (published in July 2018) positioned consumer 3D printing as being on the downward slope towards the “trough of disillusionment” and predicting it only reaching the “plateau of productivity” in five to 10 years’ time. It is not surprising, then, to see overall ownership at just 8%. The number is higher among Millennials (12%) and Gen Z (12%) than among Baby Boomers (4%). Only in China are there substantial numbers claiming to own such a product.
Like phones before them, truly portable devices have gained more interest from consumers. Fitness trackers, which are often integrated directly into phones themselves, are reasonably common, if not yet mass-market. Fitness band ownership hovers around one in five, with almost no movement at all year over year. Ownership rates are less differentiated by generation compared to smartwatch ownership.
Smartwatches, often featuring fitness tracking capabilities, are slightly more popular overall. Last year we recorded a fifth owning one; this year it is almost a quarter. As with most technology, smartwatches are more common with younger generations.
The final two device classes, keyless locks and distributed music systems, are still minority products and show little sign of taking off into mass-market. Keyless locks could be affected by an issue of the effort of retro-fitting existing locks, as well as the perception of being a “solution to a problem you don’t have.” Only around one in 10 reported having such locks in their home. Distributed music systems, like Sonos, are slightly more popular but are not making headway at only around 13% ownership this year. They may remain a niche product given their cost and the ubiquity (and low cost) of Bluetooth-based devices using a smartphone as the music source.
Connected or smart home devices are among the most tangible ways in which technology is impacting one’s personal living space. These devices allow for control, often through voice assistants, smartphones, tablets, or computers, of numerous aspects of the home environment – lighting, appliances, air quality/ purification, even monitoring the interior and exterior of the home via video.
Ownership of standalone voice-enabled devices is up in almost all countries. The incidence of ownership of such devices is relatively low. The most common application owned in the set we are testing is central heating remotely controlled from outside the home. This was owned by some 14% in 2019, rising slightly this year (16%).
Remote door monitoring has grown by two percentage points over the year, as have remote controlled light switches, another aspect of home security. Both air quality monitors and remotely-controllable appliances remain very much in a minority at around 9% and 13% adoption, respectively.
One of the most significant developments in consumer-facing technology has been the proliferation of voice assistants and voice-activated devices. Historically, touch has been the primary way of interacting with technology and more broadly the devices that most people use regularly. The flip of a switch, the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger – all replaced by simply speaking.
The adoption of smartphone-enabled voice assistants should grow organically along with the smartphone upgrade cycle. It is no surprise then to see a three percentage point increase in ownership among Baby Boomers, four points among Gen X’ers and two points among Millennials. Usage of the voice assistant is also growing, more so among the younger generations. For Baby Boomers we see little change from 2019’s study. We do see, however, a five point increase among Gen X for usage “very often,” as well as a seven point increase for Millennials and one point among Gen Z.
While the smartphone provides a common access point for voice-enabled tech, standalone devices (often linked to the phone by specific apps) are increasingly making their way into the home. While not the only options available in the marketplace, Amazon’s Echo and Google Home have led the way in the concerted push for consumers to adopt this tech in their homes, producing higher ownership rates.
Ownership is up in almost all countries, most dramatically in China at +20 percentage points followed by Canada at +10 percentage points, the UK and the Netherlands both at +7 percentage points. Adoption of voice technology has also increased year on year among all generations, with the exclusion of Gen Z.
BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES
According to the survey, blockchain technology – an immutable, distributed ledger used to record transactions – is still a long way from being mainstream. Half of the people asked had never heard of the concept, an additional third have heard of it but don’t know much about it and less than 20% know enough to explain it. Baby Boomers are least likely to have knowledge of it, with 60% never having heard of it. Millennials are the most informed generation, but even among them, only 25% could explain or discuss the topic in detail. By country, the UK was the least aware of blockchain with 61% unaware. Other countries posted “unaware” levels between 50% and 60%, with Japan and China the most aware, reporting 42% and 10% respectively unaware.
Awareness is very high in China compared to other countries, yet those in China are the least likely to be able to correctly identify what it is. Japan, the US, Canada and countries in Europe show similar levels of blockchain knowledge. When shown potential descriptions of blockchain, only 27% could correctly identify the one that described blockchain and a quarter selected “none of these” or “don’t know,” while a little under 50% picked one of these four “decoy” definitions: a faster, secure VPN; anti-virus software using AI; more efficient memory access; or a faster, more private cellular network.
When asked about cryptocurrencies, the US lags behind other countries in awareness of Bitcoin, the most renowned cryptocurrency, with just 64% of Americans having heard of it compared to 81% in the Netherlands. Across all countries, other cryptocurrencies were known by fewer than one in five – only 12% are familiar with Litecoin, 15% aware of Ethereum, and single digit awareness for Zcash, Dash, Ripple, Monero, Neo, Carano and Eos.
Thirty percent of Americans say they own Bitcoin, compared to an average of just 24% across all countries studied. Ownership of the other currencies we asked about was in the low single digits.
The MaCorr Team