The concept of digital engagement is frequently used to assess to what extent people use internet-connected devices in their day-to-day lives. Many people assume that younger people are more digitally engaged than older generations, but research by PYMNTS suggests that this stereotype only tells half the story.
Published in collaboration with Stripe, the report entitled “Benchmarking The World’s Digital Transformation,” uses the PYMNTS ConnectedEconomy™ Index (CE Index) to measure digital engagement across the 10 pillars of the connected economy.
The report, which looks at consumer behavior across 11 countries and studies data from over 15,000 individuals, revealed that while millennials were important early proponents of eCommerce, engaging older generations was key to raising a country’s CE Index and realizing the full potential of the digital economy.
For example, Brazil was above average in the overall ranking with a CE Index of 30.1, roughly on par with the U.S. (30.3), but when it came to digital engagement among millennials and Generation Z, the country lagged significantly behind the rest.
Among the six European countries studied — the U.K., Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — the graphs skew towards a high level of engagement among millennials, slightly lower among Generation Z, and yet lower being found among Generation X. The generations with the lowest levels of digital engagement in these countries were the baby boomers and seniors.
The data further showed that countries like the U.K and the Netherlands are overreliant on the spending power of millennials when it comes to growing sustainable digital economies.
As a result of digital engagement being so unevenly distributed between generations, four out of six European countries — the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France — all scored a lower CE Index than Brazil, despite having better infrastructure and more mature economies.
The study also found that there is no linear correlation between internet access and digital engagement, with most European countries scoring below 30 in the CE Index despite showing internet access levels in the 90th percentile.
By benchmarking engagement levels, the report demonstrates the value of a holistic consideration of the digital economy, and if Europe is to more evenly share in the advantages of digital technology, it needs initiatives that encourage cross-generational consumer and cultural engagement with the internet.
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