Romanians’ use of digital services has increased dramatically since 2019, with 4.1 million users starting to use them, leading to total of 10.8 million digital users, a McKinsey & Company survey found. However, around 2.5 million Romanians plan to reduce their online activities after the pandemic ends.
The survey covered 1,200 Romanian users aged 18 to 85 and is part of the upcoming Global Digital Sentiment Insights report. The areas included in this survey are banking, insurance, food and clothing retail, telecommunications, utilities, the public sector, entertainment, health services, travel, and education.
As expected, during the pandemic, many Europeans started shopping more often online and moved their activities to the digital space. Romania is very close to the European average share of consumers that use digital services partly or fully across industries, at 72% compared to Europe’s 77%.
Entertainment, utilities, and travel are the most digital services
The preference of Romanian consumers to use fully digital services is high in certain sectors: entertainment (88%), utilities (72%), travel (69%). On the contrary, the lowest share is in healthcare (22%). The public sector, insurance, healthcare, and clothing retail have the highest potential to increase the share of users using exclusively digital services.
In Romania, the increase in the last six months was driven by digital users of all ages between 25 and 64 years old. As across most of Europe, the new users have evenly balanced across genders Women account for most new users in areas such as food retail, clothing retail, healthcare, and education, while men are eager to explore areas of insurance, entertainment, and public sector.
Digital technologies have become the preferred way of interacting with consumers across Europe. However, it now appears that the effect of the pandemic pushing users towards digital channels has already been exhausted, as most European users are no longer increasing the frequency of their activities in the digital environment.
43% of new users of digital have moved online because of the pandemic
“Although most consumers have switched to digital channels due to the coronavirus pandemic and some will at least partly move back to physical channels, many of them will continue to use digital channels because out of convenience. However, the sectors that experienced the most significant inflow of new digital consumers during the crisis (e.g., Education, Utilities) will be at the greatest risk of losing consumers after the pandemic ends“ says Alexandru Filip, McKinsey & Company Partner in Bucharest.
According to the survey respondents, 43% of new users have moved to digital channels only because of the pandemic. Assuming the pandemic subsides, the trend of an increasing number of digital users will partially reverse, as there will be a greater balance between digital and physical shopping. These channels will compete with each other, with a desire to return to the physical shopping that has not been possible during the pandemic.
Companies that offer digital services must therefore expect up to 2.5 million Romanians to reduce their online activities.
“To retain more consumers on digital channels, businesses will need to focus on two areas. First, create a great customer experience – simple digitization or basic automated flows without having in mind the customer needs and preferences is clearly not enough. Second, flawlessly integrate digital and physical channels in an omnichannel approach. It means customers would use digital channels for simpler customer journeys and physical channels for complex journeys where advice is needed or if human support is necessary,” added Alexandru Filip.
Although customer satisfaction with digital services in Romania is high (75% of users are satisfied or very satisfied), companies should focus not only on the actual provision of digital services but on the quality with which these services are delivered.