Posted: 05 Nov. 2020 10 min. read

COVID-19 is accelerating digital ways of living

Seemingly overnight, digital has now become even more entrenched in our lives. We have all had to adapt quickly to disruptive shifts and structural changes to almost every aspect of our day to day.

You might have experienced some of these changes yourself:

  • Working from home using digital technologies;
  • Virtual school and university;
  • Shopping online for essential items; or even
  • Using telehealth services.

Prior to the pandemic, this radical shift in digital behaviour that we’re witnessing would not have been considered possible or would have taken many years to eventuate. These changes in digital usage have become the norm.

In this study, we wanted to explore not only the extent that customers had taken up “digital” ways of living as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also how enduring these shifts will be once lockdown restrictions ease. After COVID-19, will you be going back to work, or working from home? Will you go to the doctor, or video call a specialist? How confident or safe will you feel going to your gym class or the cinema?

Our research uncovered six main categories of behaviour change across key activities, as illustrated in the Figure below:

For each of the activities explored, we developed a detailed understanding of how customers will choose to engage with the category post-COVID-19.

For example, when shopping for non-essential items prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% of customers said that they would search and order online. This figure increases post pandemic, where 36% of customers responded that they intend to search and order online. This gives organisations more granular insights about the parts of the purchase journey that need a simple and robust digital experience and provides confidence that customer experience investments in these areas will be impactful beyond the short-term.

While we recognise that intent and actual behaviour may be different, we believe that this study hints at the categories and activities that will be fundamentally disrupted and will not return to a pre-COVID-19 normal.

We strongly believe that every organisation should use this once-in-a-lifetime event to drive disruptive change and better adapt to an uncertain future.

Use the download button below to see all the findings of the COVID-19 Customer digital shift report.

COVID-19 Customer digital shift


This study was designed to develop an understanding of the shifts in customer behaviour in using digital technologies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.​

The result and learnings conveyed in the report are reflective of the time period in which the survey was conducted. A random sample of 1,001 respondents, representative of the Australian population, were surveyed via an online questionnaire completed first week of June 2020.

Authors: Sanj PereraVincent Leung, Jeffrey Zhao, Laura Foo

More about our authors

Sanj Perera

Sanj Perera

Partner, Consulting, Customer Strategy

Sanj is a partner in Consulting with a focus on Customer Strategy. He has spent 20 years consulting experience helping clients drive customer led transformations across a range of sectors including the Energy & Industrials, Water, Health Insurance, Automotive and Public Sector. He has specific expertise in Customer & Market Segmentation, Customer Analytics, Digital Strategy, Customer led Operating Model design and Contact Centres.

Laura Foo

Laura Foo

Consultant, Customer Strategy & Experience Design

Laura is passionate about helping organisations shape innovative experiences with data and insights to drive tangible value for both customers and businesses. As a strong customer advocate, she has proven experience working closely with blended teams at the intersection of strategy, design, and data to deliver customer, digital, experience, brand, and communications strategies. Laura has a breadth of experience in qualitative and quantitative customer research across a number of organisations in retail, energy & resources, higher education, financial services and the public sector.  

Vincent Leung

Vincent Leung

Consultant, Customer Strategy & Experience Design

Vincent is a Consultant in the Digital Strategy & Innovation practice, with experience in customer strategy, digital strategy and innovation projects, quantitative research as well as a keen interest in behavioural economics and design. He uses a blend of the customer perspective, business practicalities and keen data analytics skills, to ensure that strategies and initiatives are desirable, practical and realistic. Key past projects include digital strategy development and innovation strategy in various sectors such as FSI, Health, retail and the public sector, as well as process redesign and agile delivery in the Energy and Utilities space. He has a background in Electrical Engineering and Laws from Monash University.