Rakuten.Today: How the world is watching, reading, chatting and shopping during the pandemic

Originally published on Rakuten.Today, 3rd May 2021.

Over the past 14 months, the global pandemic has fundamentally changed the world–the way we live, work, travel and consume. Facing lockdowns and subsequent restrictions to retail and leisure activities , people around the world are engaging with the digital world in new, more expansive ways.

Even as some countries return to some semblance of normalcy, this unprecedented experience will likely leave a lasting impact on the way we operate online.

Recently released research by Rakuten Insights, conducted among 7,000 consumers across 14 markets (APAC, EMEA and the U.S.), captures this changing consumer behavior, focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on shopping, reading, watching and chatting habits, and perhaps providing a hint on what’s to come next.

Across the map, people are spending more time watching entertainment content, especially the amount of time consuming content on Netflix (+ 35%), Amazon Prime (+ 20%) and Rakuten TV (+ 10%) has increased. The smartphone was the clear winner for enjoying entertainment content in Asia, while the TV was the entertainment device for watching content in the UK and U.S.

Surprisingly, neither time spend on social media, nor time spend on video calls saw major changes in Japan, the UK or the U.S. However, respondents from India, Indonesia and the Philippines reported considerable increases in time spend to the tune of 70%, 58% and 62% respectively.

On average, time spent reading books across all markets increased by 70%. The smartphone (53%) – which was an especially popular option in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam – took the number one spot overall on the list of popular devices used for reading, followed by print books (31%), tablets (9%) and eReaders (7%). Some companies, like Rakuten Kobo, allow readers to move back and forth seamlessly between mobile apps and designated eReading devices like the Kobo Forma, increasing daily reading opportunities for users on the go.

Less surprising: Online shopping’s tremendous growth. Brick and mortar retailers have increasingly digitalized their offerings to compete with established e-commerce players. Since the start of global lockdowns last year, online shopping has shot up in popularity.

The number of respondents who reported shopping online almost every day (38%) and monthly (31%) saw notable increases, while those who claimed to never make online purchases decreased. The top online shopping category was food and drink, followed by household items.

More than a year into the global pandemic, it’s clear that entertainment and online shopping has helped to make time at home just a bit more enjoyable. Now, as we set our sights on a post-pandemic future, we are curious to see what the new normal will look like.

To read the full report, visit here.

Related articles: Report: Next Normal to Future Normal for Consumers in Asia and US, Impact of COVID-19 on Consumers Behaviour

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