Press release

15 Jun 2022 London, GB

Cost-of-living crisis drives consumers to rethink connectivity and content needs

LONDON, 15 JUNE 2022. Following a digital home boom established during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, consumers are retreating on connectivity and content needs as they prioritize financial and mental well-being.

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Michael Curtis

EY Global Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications Media Relations and Social Media Assistant Director

Media relations and social media manager. Music enthusiast and occasional writer.

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Following a digital home boom established during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, consumers are retreating on connectivity and content needs as they prioritize financial and mental well-being. This is according to the latest EY Decoding the digital home study, which surveyed more than 20,000 households to analyze consumer attitudes toward technology, media and telecoms experienced in the home across eight countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US.

The study confirms that the cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on the digital home. More than half of households are concerned that their broadband provider (60%) and TV provider (55%) will increase subscription rates, and 45% believe they pay too much for content they don’t consume. As we emerge from the pandemic, the study also indicates that digital usage is normalizing, with many looking to downsize their online exposure. Thirty-four percent plan to spend less time online, 27% want to cut the number of streaming platforms they use and 21% are open to reducing the number of connected devices in their homes.

It is striking that countries experiencing the greatest uptick in demand since the pandemic – Canada, Italy, the UK and the US – carry the greatest downsizing risks.

Tom Loozen, EY Global Telecommunications Leader, says:

“As the global health pandemic recedes and we enter an era of hyper-inflation driven by huge geopolitical change, digital usage appears to be plateauing or even declining. Concerns around price increases threaten to undermine the appetite for connectivity and content that has been growing since countries first went into lockdown. As a result, demand scenarios remain volatile, and service providers must reframe their strategies to build long-term value and offer more compelling propositions that cater to consumers’ evolving priorities.”

Households increasingly prioritize online security and well-being

The trend toward withdrawal from the online world is compounded by an increased focus on security and well-being. The findings reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing fears around data disclosure, with 40% of households stating that they are more worried about the privacy of personal data than they were before the pandemic.

Mental health concerns associated with online exposure are also top of mind, particularly among younger consumers. Forty-seven percent of respondents under the age of 25 often think about the negative impact of internet use on well-being, and the same number that are 25 to 44 years old are very concerned about what they may encounter online. Overall, 59% of all households believe governments and regulators should do more to combat harmful online content.

Pressure to provide consumers with greater clarity

The study further highlights that consumers feel service offerings are too complex. Thirty-three percent find it difficult to understand digital home packages on offer, and 38% see very little difference between competing providers. Similarly, while more than half (54%) of consumer respondents say introductory offers play a role in their supplier choices, 49% indicate that they make it difficult to determine who offers the best value.

Adrian Baschnonga, EY Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Lead Analyst, says:

“Connectivity and content providers must make their packages easier to interpret and understand. Clearly underlining the value they offer is essential during a period of unprecedented pressure on household spending. Better levels of service and support will also help companies build more enduring relationships with their customers, reducing the risk of churn.”

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About the study

Decoding the digital home is conducted annually by the EY organization, to help organizations understand changing consumer attitudes toward technology, media and telecommunications experienced in the home – and the companies that provide these products and services. The insights from the online survey of more than 20,000 households are gathered from eight countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US). This year’s research was conducted in February 2022. Additional insights and analysis are provided by the EY Global Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications (TMT)  team.