In Conversation with Dana Farrugia, CEO – Tech.mt
Online consumer behaviour is undergoing a shift, one that’s undeniably worth exploring and capitalising on. Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a paradigm shift in increased users of mobile and online platforms, with the popularity of such platforms increasing exponentially during such volatile times.
With such an evident surge in online platforms ranging from adult and dating sites to casino and gaming platforms, we are observing an unprecedented amount of traffic and conversions across different verticals, particularly in the iGaming sector. Consequently, this has truly disrupted consumer behaviours in unpredictable ways, with individuals consuming certain online services more than others. The underlying question is how such changes in consumer behaviour may be interpreted and decoded to truly understand the future of online consumerism in this new digital era. Moreover, how Malta responds and proactively reacts to such changes will determine the future it is envisaging in terms of the degree of diversity and adaptability it strives to achieve.
Dana Farrugia, CEO of Tech.mt, highlights four key reflections and opportunities when it comes to consumers’ online behaviour. They reflect interests and expectations that have emerged from the pandemic and how technology plays a role in all this.
Increased reliance on more digital and home-centric tools
During these challenging times, consumers have shifted their preferences online and found means to manage all their activities from their homes. Such exponential growth in online dependability has also induced increased proclivity towards stronger consumer-centric sentiments. And whilst deep analysis and structured exploitation of such sentiments generally pose business opportunities, they also present challenges and dilemmas related to the welfare of our consumers, particularly when it comes to mental well-being. While it is beyond Tech. mt’s scope to fuel an unjustified stigma around the combination of increased online activities, consumer behaviours and mental health, it would be a fallacy to overlook the perceived or potential correlation between these elements.
BY FOCUSING ON THE LONG-TERM AND INVESTING IN VALUE CREATION FOR CONSUMERS, MALTA WILL EMERGE FROM THIS CRISIS STRONGER AND BE READY TO GENERATE MORE GROWTH AND INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE.
Higher propensity for digital adoption
The pandemic has profoundly reformed consumer behaviour, making digital adoption and transformation a necessity for businesses. However, digital adoption or digital transformation cannot occur in isolation. It needs to be complemented with an integrated approach towards consumer experience and expectations. Through technology, there needs to be a renewed focus on investing in digital tools to understand consumers and analyse consumer data. Remaining effective and understanding consumers’ needs and patterns by reimagining the role of digital is crucial. From constructing consumer insights by manipulating data, agile online testing systems, tech and data-driven consumer-centric marketing to engaging consumers more effectively and scaling up online sales, new and innovative opportunities will emerge swifter and stronger, just as we have seen with online education and telehealth.
Opportunities for businesses
Adjusting business strategies to maximise revenue and reach an extended consumer base is essential to ensure success. The triumphant businesses will be those that revolve swiftly and cost-effectively around COVID-19-induced behavioural patterns. Such businesses will have a competitive advantage, as they will have a deeper understanding of their customer experience. There is, in fact, huge potential in altering consumer preferences online and opening up new opportunities for artificial intelligence and automation. In light of the shift in consumer behaviour, it is within our businesses’ best interest to align their models to better serve the needs and demands of consumers, and to ensure that their products and services accurately match the consumers’ appetite. Undoubtedly, technology plays a significant role in this period of adaptation and reinvention. Two key areas are behavioural consumer segmentation and analytic proficiencies, and these are two areas which technology can significantly improve in terms of maximisation and response.
Adaptability is key
Businesses best positioned for adapting rapidly to cross-channel consumer services and technological solutions will find it less problematic to adjust and adapt to the evolving patterns in their relevant fields. As more consumers seek indulgences online, it is imperative that businesses equip themselves with additional enticements to enhance consumer engagement and experiences. This positive surge of consumers online also infers a consequential tendency for consumers to have a zero-tolerance or impartial attitude towards online platforms, particularly considering the increased quality and fierce competition in online products and services. This should serve as a further impetus for businesses to invest in digitally innovative solutions.
What do these four reflections mean for Malta and potential investment?
If Malta wants to truly capitalise on the changes being imposed by the pandemic, providing positive consumer experiences online is more important than ever.
While one may not predict how long, or to what extent, this changing consumer behaviour will prevail, the increased acceptance of doing things digitally and the enhanced trust in digital platforms is indisputable. Already operating in a highly-saturated ecosystem, understanding and exploiting consumer behaviour is what will set businesses apart from one another. While keeping ahead of consumer behaviour online is vital for any industry’s growth and survival, it also needs to become Maltese businesses’ main digital strategy.
With a robust technological backbone and resilient digital infrastructure, Malta has been able to contain the pandemic efficiently and cushion its economy from the emergent aftershock.
Crucially, by focusing on the long-term and investing in value creation for consumers, Malta will emerge from this crisis stronger and be ready to generate more growth and investment in the future. Through its entrenched relationship and ongoing dialogue with local and foreign investors, Tech.mt firmly believes that Malta’s flexibility to successfully adapt and diversify to new norms is what will keep investors yearning for more. The power to understand consumers will improve businesses’ operational efficiency and reputation, which will, in turn, generate the interest of new investors, new niches and new standards. Start your digital transformation now!
Tech.mt urges policymakers, regulators, industry leaders and business owners to push themselves to ensure an environment in which the trust the consumers place on their platforms, products and services is not agitated but further secured. For this to happen, an intricate balance needs to be established between meaningful and smart action from industry and political will from the government. Building on data-driven and technology-focused consumer insights and innovation, Malta can truly explore and exploit the opportunities of this challenging but exciting journey.