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How did the crisis impact the digitalisation of French people?

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The crisis has revealed an acceleration in digital technology, which is not without impact on the daily lives of French people.As a liberator in the face of the crisis, digital technology can also be a factor of mistrust and social fracture.

Based on its study platform, the Access Panel 2020, Echangeur BNP Paribas Personal Finance analyses more closely the financial and dynamic consumer decisions of the French, Belgians, Spanish and Portuguese.

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How has digitalisation taken hold in the daily lives of French people?

The trivialization of digitalization is not a matter of increasing the number of Internet users or cyber-buyers. There is still a minority France that will not be able to use the Internet, even if it is forced to march.

The rate of French people connected over the past 12 months has remained stable since the crisis: it stands at 92% in October 2020, a level already reached a year ago (source: TGI Kantar study conducted among 15000 people).

The rate of online shoppers also did not increase between January and September 2020: 91% of French online shoppers have bought on the Internet in the past 12 months (compared to 92% in January).

The increase of digitalisation is indeed a matter of increased traffic, of multiplication of all-out uses and the projection of rising activity.

The crisis has led to a significant increase in the frequency of purchases: 71% of online shoppers made purchases on the Internet at least once a month, an increase of +5 points compared to the January wave. In terms of projections, 26% of them believe that the crisis will sustainably encourage them to increase their online purchases.

Beyond e-commerce, digitalisation is intensifying at the heart of households, opening the door to a large number of value propositions, when households have become a true “hub of services” in favour of “Stay at home”.


Multiplication of all-round digital uses

Multiplication of all-round digital uses

Well-established practices have been reinforced since the crisis: for example, in September 2020, 50% of connected French people say they use a video-on-demand service, knowing that 1 in 5 have tested these services for the first time since the crisis.

The gaming boom has not been denied: 41% of French say they play video games online and 7% have discovered this hobby since the 1st lockdown. This trend opens up opportunities for brands to create virtual platforms for exchanges with their consumers. Some have already taken advantage of this opportunity. Examples include Gemo initiatives. The brand has indeed launched 2 animations: one around Animal Crossing during the 1st lockdown; the other, recently around Mario Kart Live. It was for them, of course, to keep the link with their consumers, while their stores were forced to remain closed.

Animal Crossing X Gemo

At the same time, other practices have experienced a spectacular boom, directly caused by the urgency of the health crisis. For example, the use of telemedicine: 26% say they use it; almost two thirds of them have taken the plunge, following the crisis. The same is true for teleworking: 53% of workers practice it, more than half of whom have experienced it with the crisis.

A 2-speed acceleration of digitalisation

This trivialization of the use of digital by the French includes new targets that would never have integrated digital in their daily lives without the Covid effect.

New followers of Drive and food delivery services, the share of those aged 60 and over who have adopted these services more than doubled between January and September 2020: 37% have used them in the past 12 months (compared to 15% in the January wave).

Another emblematic example is telemedicine: while high incomes are the main beneficiaries of its growth, it has, however, affected all income categories. 25% of low incomes (- €2,100 net monthly per household) have adopted this new service, nearly two thirds of which discovered it with the crisis.

The first wave of lockdown finally prepared the French to integrate in a more permanent and especially more intense way the new digital uses.


The proliferation of digital uses will anchor itself in the daily lives of French people in a sustainable way

The proliferation of digital uses will anchor itself in the daily lives of French people in a sustainable way

Telework, telemedicine, VOD, online games, social networks, etc. , the French do not consider going back in time: in 7 to 9 cases out of 10, they believe they will maintain or even increase their uses.

However, this enthusiasm only benefits a part of the population more comfortable on the grip of digital and its financing.

While two-thirds of 18-30-year-olds play online video games, seniors, over the age of 60, remain reluctant to engage in this leisure activity, whose codes they do not know (19%).

62% of high-income earners (over €4,000 net monthly per household) use video-on-demand services compared to 47% to 48% of low- and middle-income earners.

Telemedicine illustrates a territorial divide: 39% of urban dwellers (inhabitants of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants or in Parisian agglomeration) use it, against 18% of rural dwellers (less than 2,000 inhabitants).

On the other hand, there is a decline in the feeling of ease with new technologies: 75% are comfortable (down 5 points, compared to the previous measure, dating from October 2019). The decline is particularly marked among seniors: 64% of those over 60 feel comfortable with new technologies, a decrease of -8 points.

This decrease in the feeling of ease is certainly due to a forced acceleration of digital uses, especially during the first confinement, and to technical difficulties encountered for some seniors in the lead.

It should be noted that this lack of digital agility of seniors can represent a particularly serious obstacle for this category of the population, encouraged to change its uses in depth. An example would be the All Covid application. How could seniors use it massively when many of them don’t even know how to install an app on their smartphone, if they have one?

It is therefore necessary to pay particular attention to the 13 million people affected by illectronism in France, but also to those who will neither have the capacity nor even the desire to embark on the hyper-digitalisation of their daily lives. This is the message conveyed by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) through its study “OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020“, which sets the fight against the digital divide as an urgent priority.

Caroline is in charge of the Access Panel studies of Echangeur.
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