Digital usage & COVID-19

Digital Consumer Trends 2020

15 minute read

Digital Consumer 2020 - Lockdown behaviour

Highlights

  • Smartphone usage has fallen for the 2nd year in a row.
  • 17% of 18 – 24 year olds check their phone every 7.2 minutes.
  • 45% of respondents worked from home during the lockdown. 40% found it easier to work from home.
  • 30% of respondents purchased either a smartphone, laptop or tablet as a result of spending more time at home during the pandemic, however 61% say they did not spend anything on electronic devices.

Have we reached the Smartphone peak?

Over the last 3 years we have seen the penetration of the smartphone fall from a peak of 94% in 2018 to 90% in 2020. What is more interesting it is the 18 – 24 year old age group, the group you would intuitively expect to have the highest adoption rate has seen the largest fall from 90% in 2019 to 83% in 2020, while we have also seen a surprising upsurge in standard mobile phone usage over the same period and within the same age category with usage going from 9% to 14% since 2019.

In the European context we see slower low single digit increases across most European countries, with no growth or declines in Italy, Germany, Denmark and Ireland.

Figure 1. At 90% in the current year smartphone penetration has fallen for the second year in a row, with the biggest decrease in males and in the 18 – 24 age group.

Figure 2. Tablets saw the greatest increase and the level of penetration of standard mobile phones has increased significantly.


Figure 3. Smartphone adoption across most European countries has experienced a growth rate between -2% to +2.5% in the last year.

Do we use our phones too much?

Smartphones are still the most used daily device with 93% (2018: 98%) of respondents using them on a daily basis. Sticking with smartphone usage, a third of respondents look at their phone more than 50 times a day. This increases to nearly three quarters in the 18 – 24 year old bracket, and 17% looking at it over 200 times a day. That’s nearly 8 times an hour or every 7.2 minutes – and that is based on a 24 hours with no sleep! Men this year checked their phones on average 56 times a day (2018: 46 times) and women 59 times a day (2018: 54 times), both increasing year on year.

A third of us check our phones within the first 5 minutes of waking up and over 70% of us doing so within the first 30 minutes.

Perception of smartphone overuse varies with age, the younger the age group, the more likely they are to feel they overuse their smartphones, with two thirds of 18 – 34 feeling that they overuse their phone. When compared to last year the perceived usage has not significantly changed. This has been generally consistent for the last 3 years.

Figure 4. Smartphones are used daily by 93% (2018: 98%) of respondents. There is significant variation in daily usage rates between all types of devices. Daily usage of laptops has increased from 69% to 76%, while desktop daily usage is down from 66% to 59% - reflecting the WFH mandate since 2019.

Figure 5. There is only a small difference in the amount of times per day Irish male and female respondents look at their phones. What we do see is significant differences between the age groups.


Figure 6. Smartphone usage: 87% of phone users check their phone within the first hour of waking up, with a third of people checking their phone within the first 5 minutes. Both increasing on 2019.


Figure 7. Perception of smartphone overuse varies with age, the younger the age group, the more likely to feel they overuse their smartphones. When compared to last year the perceived usage has not significantly changed. This has been generally consistent for the last 3 years.


What we do on our phones is changing?

This year 62% of us use our phone to check our bank balances, and for over 50% it is the preferred device to do so. Around half browse shopping websites/apps or purchase products online, however the laptop still remains the preferred device for making online purchases. Streaming on smartphone has not yet caught on however. We will explore living room entertainment trends in a later publication.

Figure 8. Smartphone usage: The smartphone is a key device for banking and shopping: 62% use their phone regularly for online banking; Around half browse shopping websites/apps or purchase products online.

Figure 9. The smartphone has continued to become the preferred device for a growing number of applications and demographic groups.

Discover more



Attitudes towards 5G


Coming soon!


The future of mobile operator interaction

Coming soon!


Trust and privacy


Coming soon!


Living room entertainment

Coming soon!

Get in touch

John Kehoe
John Kehoe

Partner, Audit & Assurance
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Daryl Hanberry
Daryl Hanberry

Partner & Head of TMT
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Digital Consumer Trends 2020