There’s no better time to examine the past and future than when crossing the threshold of a new year and decade. During this time of thoughtful retrospection, it’s easy to exaggerate how dramatically the world has changed, thanks to cognitive bias. But certain changes are undeniable — after all, we entered 2010 at a time when nations were clambering out of the Great Recession, when smartphones were a reality for a mere third of global consumers, and when buying an HDTV signaled tech savviness.
Here, I reflect on the past decade through the lens of data. Clarifying what has measurably changed and what consistencies are here to stay reveals five important consumer lessons to take away from the 2010s.
The first observation kicks off with insight about consumer technology:
Lesson 1: Technology intimacy grows even as devices come and go.
What changed: The devices gracing our walls and ourselves. In 2010, the newborn eReader was whipping up hype about its potential to disrupt media, but by 2019, only 4% of US online adults were regularly consuming content on the device. If you’re still thinking about the netbook, you’re among a nostalgic few. The past decade has seen lofty promises and fizzled excitement around futuristic technology like the infamous Google Glass and not-so-far-fetched wearables like fitness trackers.
Here to stay: Consumer craving for intimate technology. Even as consumers cycled through devices, their reliance on personal technology has steadily grown. Between 2010 and 2019, the proportion of US consumers that recognize technology’s importance more than doubled. Marshall McLuhan’s 1960s insight about devices as extensions of ourselves eerily still rings true today, as consumers develop emotional connections with intimate technologies that they put on their bodies and around their families. In the coming decade, prepare for voice interaction and AI-enabled experiences to make digital experiences feel even closer to us — if not one of us.
While personal devices whirled in and out of consumer lives, consumers also experienced the promise and plummet of certain brands. Ironically, this environment stimulated a consumer appetite for novelty that companies now struggle to satiate. Check back tomorrow to learn more in lesson #2.
This post was written by Senior Analyst Anjali Lai, and originally appeared here.