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Lockdown drives UK tech adoption to fastest growth in a decade

Wearable devices saw the biggest increase in ownership, with sales up from 31% in 2020

Business advisory firm Deloitte has detailed how the UK’s digital device ownership and media consumption habits were accelerated last year, seeing a decade-high rise in adoption.

The Drum explores how the pandemic sparked this rise in tech-savvy consumers and how retailers can lean into this trend.

The results

A record 19.2m devices were bought by UK consumers in the year to July 2021, marking the fastest ever rise in technology adoption in the past decade.

Research of 4,160 consumers found that UK consumers bought 1.6m new devices every month over the past year, with each consumer now having access to 5.4 different digital devices. This is 8% higher than in 2020.

Wearables

Wearable devices saw the biggest increase in ownership: 40% of consumers now have access to a smartwatch or fitness band, up from 31% in 2020. The rise of at-home workouts last year has paved the way for this incline.

SVOD

The UK lockdown restrictions saw many people spending most of their time at home and searching for new entertainment outlets. Three in four (76%) consumers now have access to an SVOD service, up from 65% in 2020, and two-thirds (67%) of subscribers have access to more than one service.

However, 15% of subscribers have canceled a video streaming service subscription over the past year, while 25% have subscribed to a new video streaming service.

Consumers who have canceled a subscription noted that they didn’t use the subscription enough and only needed access to the platform temporarily or for a season.

Rise of the silver streamers

Consumers aged 65-75 with access to a video streaming subscription were half as likely on average to have canceled their subscription in the past year. Almost three in five (57%) of consumers in this age bracket now have an SVOD subscription, compared to just 36% in 2020.

Older consumers have become fervent adopters of tech in the past 12 months, with two in three consumers aged 65-75 now having access to a smart TV, which is up from 51% in 2020.

What Deloitte says

“Lockdowns left many households with more time to devote to devices and more savings to buy new technology,” said Paul Lee, global head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte.

“However, this is likely to have been a one-off surge in device acquisition. Device ownership is unlikely to grow as fast over the next year. While technology acquisition rates may slow, consumer dependence on technology will continue to deepen, along with demand for new functionalities and designs, which is likely to continue driving device ownership across the UK.”

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