The world after Covid-19 will be a different place and people everywhere are debating what the new “normal” will look like once this all passes. There has been a strong shift to online shopping as people were first restricted by lockdowns, and then many people continued to work from home. Additionally, consumers will continue to shift to digital channels, even after the pandemic.
Brands are now focusing on better understanding what their customers want and need during this time. Here are 10 trends of customer behaviour that are evolving post-pandemic that every business should look out for.
The World Economic Forum states that the use of smartphones for online shopping has more than doubled since 2018. With so many retail operations closed or operating under limited conditions, curb side pickup and same-day delivery became crucial for many people. Customers have grown accustomed to having several shopping options and will likely continue relying on them even post-pandemic, creating a new shopping norm.
During the pandemic, customers are continually looking for ways to reduce the risk of contamination, with methods like wearing gloves in store or moving to online shopping to minimise physical contact with products. Another trend that has surged with contactless payments is the use of e-wallets and tap credit cards. Offering multiple payment methods via online and in-store is the preferred payment method for many businesses and their customers, since they reduce the amount of physical contact. Safety measures such as these have become more common as the pandemic progressed, and may even stick after the crisis is over, thanks to their convenience and ease of use.
Speaking of less contact, customers are increasingly more concerned about health. Accenture states that consumer priorities have become centred on the most basic needs, sending demand for hygiene, cleaning and staples products soaring, while non-essential categories slump. This affects business protocols as business owners have to be more conscious about the health and safety measures that they are in place. Even post-pandemic, business owners should still be wary.
An eMarketer survey taken in March 2020 showed that over 40% of Instagram users and 34% of Facebook users watched other people’s stories on their respective platforms. Covid-19 definitely had an impact during this time, as March 2020 marked the beginning of most countries’ quarantining period with the spike in cases. With the majority of people staying at home, more people were using the internet and social media daily and as a result, increased traffic on social media stories. Since stories are a much shorter and more digestible format of content compared to a full length video, they were easy to watch and gain attention. In 2019, more than half of marketers surveyed said they use storytelling in their marketing, up from 42% in 2018. This shows the continuous growth and popularity with social media stories. With brand marketing shifting towards open communication and authenticity, storytelling will continue to drive consumer interest.
Thinking With Google noted that 70% of consumers purchased from a brand after seeing a sponsored video on YouTube in 2021. Popular YouTube creators promoting a brand’s products is not a new concept, however since the pandemic and especially with the increased social media usage that came with it, many customers have become more trusting of reviews they see online.
Another big shift in buying behaviour is customers making more online purchases items that they usually wouldn’t purchase online. The Retail Council of Canada saw that 85% of Canadians say that their shopping behaviour has been affected by COVID-19, while 50% report they are now making online purchases for typical in-store items. Most importantly, 53% of North Americans say they have changed the way they will shop going forward, indicating that the shifts that have taken place over the pandemic will have lasting impacts on retail.
Being environmentally friendly and being sure corporations are following ethical practices is becoming increasingly important to consumers. PWC reported that 32% of Canadians are willing to pay more for brands with well known ethical practices. Similarly, 57% of buyers are seeking out local businesses to support, with 34% doing this more often than before the pandemic. With customers having more time and options to look online for their products, it has made impulse purchasing less common and people are more aware of their purchases. Additionally, Accenture states that consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying. They are striving to limit food waste, shop more cost consciously and buy more sustainable options.
Customer loyalty has plummeted, with buyers switching brands at unprecedented rates. The main reason for this decline in brand loyalty is that a consumer’s preferred store is out of stock of an item. In-stock availability is a major concern, especially when it comes to online shopping. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the influxes of items being in and out of stock within mere minutes. With customers having many more options available to them so conveniently with online shopping, it is only natural for brand loyalty to decrease. According to the Retail Council of Canada, other reasons customers switch from their preferred store are: because it’s too crowded, they want to shop closer to home, they are trying to support a local business, the preferred store is closed or has limited hours, and the preferred store is too expensive.
EMarketer states that over half of U.S. adults say they’re willing to share location data and 84% are willing to share health data in order to help curb the spread of the virus. On the other hand, over 80% are concerned about how their data will be used after the pandemic is over. With the increasing amount of online platforms, there is more data than ever on consumers from purchase history, location, health and more. Brands should be aware of and sensitive to customers’ uncertainty and doubts toward data collection and targeting, particularly post-pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, online shopping and home delivery were common, but “click & collect” was relatively new and has seen major increases in use since the pandemic began. The Retail Council of Canada reports that 30% of consumers found that this method had become a normal part of their routine in November 2020, compared to 18% just seven months prior.
Retail Council of Canada, June 2021, https://www.retailcouncil.org/articles/how-the-pandemic-has-changed-retail-and-buying-behaviours/
Consumers seem to have embraced “click & collect,” and are significantly more likely to use the service post-pandemic.
Direct-to-Consumer companies are businesses that sell products directly to their customer, without the use of a third party or middleman. EMarketer reported that 2020 has shown a 45% growth in D2C eCommerce sales compared to 2019, and the projected numbers are promising: 80% of consumers are expected to make a minimum of one D2C purchase in the next five years.
eMarketer, February 2021, https://www.emarketer.com/content/why-more-brands-should-leverage-d2c-model
Wrapping it up
Covid-19 has resulted in many changes in customer behaviour and customer trends that will stick around in the long-run. As the world begins to re-open more and more each day, it’s now the time to start thinking about how business should be conducted differently post-pandemic. With these 10 trends in mind, consider how businesses should be run based on how consumers have changed during this time. Adapting quickly to these new customer and shopping trends will help set businesses up for success post-pandemic.
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