From Shopping-in-Store to Online Shopping: Change in Consumer Behavior During the Pandemic
Recently, Google published data on the recent search trends and revealed the top 5 ways consumer search behavior is changing, especially during the COVID-19. The study helps marketers to be more helpful to their customers in the pandemic.
There are 5 significant shifts in customer search behavior, as follows:
- Collecting critical information
- Exploring new connections
- Adapting to the new normal
- Appraising frontline warriors
- Taking care of themselves and people around
The pandemic has changed online shopping behavior, says a survey of about 3700 consumers located in 9 developed countries. The ‘COVID-19 and Ecommerce’ survey by Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) claims that customers rely on online shopping more frequently and depend on the Internet for news (both health and entertainment).
According to the same survey, online purchases have increased by 6 to 10 percentage points across most product categories. The biggest gainers here are cosmetics and personal care, digital entertainment, agro foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, etc.
The EY Future Consumer Index claims that 42% of consumers said that the way they buy would fundamentally change. The post-pandemic world needs to adapt to these new and lasting shifts in consumer behavior.
Let me introduce you to some eye-opening statistics to understand how the pandemic has reshaped consumer behavior.
As customers worldwide are trying hard to adjust to the next normal, there is a significant variance in consumer sentiment and behaviors in different countries. In India, the consumer optimism in the economic recovery has spiked steadily in mid-April. This means India is more optimistic than the rest of the world about its economic recovery.
All countries, including India, are resuming economic activities with utmost caution. The net spending intent has changed across categories since March. Indians are watching out for several indicators that help in returning to normal activities and engaging in them.
The McKinsey & Company have seen four fundamental shifts to consumer behavior due to the pandemic in India.
- Trading-down behavior
- Shift to digital and omnichannel
- Shock to loyalty
- Homebody economy
I can see worldwide customer behavior as well as the changes in business operations in the long run. This post will give you a review of some emerging patterns that highlight the potential implications for various markets. There are a few recent trends that show the shift of consumers towards the new normal.
Consumer Behavior Changes
During the pandemic, panic shopping was at its peak. People started shopping for things in panic, greater numbers, frequency, and volume. As people were trapped indoors during the nationwide lockdown, they have spent time shopping online. People switched to online shopping due to the safety and convenience of online shopping.
Due to this, retailers had to scale up their delivery capabilities without compromising on hygiene. In response to this, even small industries and independent stores started online ordering for the first time. The virus has also urged the older generation to join the bandwagon.
This behavior shift will continue to persist in the older generation who embraced the delivery models and seamless online shopping experience.
Vocal for Local
The pandemic has brought people back to their local level. Today, more and more people are leaning towards local sourcing that has directly impacted the local economy and community in a good way.
Speaking about online shopping giants, they have also grown and gained significant shares owing to their vast product selection and smooth delivery methods. They have always been in the picture due to their wide product selection, discounts, convenient hours, and more.
However, local shops also gained markets and benefited their customers when online shopping was at a halt due to the nationwide lockdown.
A Shift Towards Healthy Brands
Consumers have continued to raise awareness of personal hygiene and the desire for safety in everyday life. This factor has affected their buying habits. Today, consumers prefer reading the labels more closely, including the ingredients before consuming or using anything.
Lookout for Reliability
People prefer buying things that are reliable and long-lasting over time. Such products develop into strong brands and are hard to displace. There’s a shift towards products and services that ‘work every time’ so that consumers don’t have to worry. Our customer needs peace of mind and reliability to produce strong brand affinity.
COVID-19 has badly hit the economy of both rich and poor. You may witness many people trying to decrease their consumption, increase family savings, delay investments and major purchases to manage their savings. This has given rise to a new segment of consumers who’re cautious while spending and minimizing their expenditure.
Social Media Hungry Customers
Let’s go through some numbers.
Social Media Usage:
- 22% of US adults said that they are more interested in shopping via social media as compared to the last year. (Salesforce)
- Instagram witnessed a 70% increase in live viewing in the early days of the pandemic. (Kantar’s Covid-19 Barometer Report)
- Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp usage spiked to 40% since COVID-19. (Kantar)
According to Global Web Index research, millennials are the largest media consumption, where 58% of people spend time on social media. People are more into uploading videos on various social media platforms. This paves the way for younger generations using videos. Marketers are looking forward to preparing high production value to make their videos engaging and reduce retention.
Looking for Contact-less Retail
Shoppers will choose shops that provide contactless payments and deliver instantly via your phone. The 2020 shopper is someone who wants to avoid carrying their wallets everywhere.
According to an IBM study, about 40% of consumers prefer contactless payment while moving forward. Online retail giant Amazon has taken the definition of ‘contactless’ shopping to a whole different level with drone product delivery.
Today, every consumer demands their favorite companies to take a step up and meet their ever-changing needs during this global crisis. To make this possible, every online retailer should be ready to handle any inquiries or complaints across multiple communication channels.
I would also like to introduce you to the new post-COVID-19 consumer who has experienced a profound impact on their day-to-day lives during this period of contagion, self-isolation, and economic instability.
There are a few things you need to know about your ‘new’ consumer. Let me explain in detail.
- The pandemic has changed how consumers are behaving across every aspect of their lives.From the standpoint of online shopping, This year has been devastating in every aspect, including learning, work, shopping, entertainment, travel, life at home, health, communications, etc.Shopping and consumption are drastically increased during the pandemic. Consumer buying behavior has changed across categories. Small brands have bloomed, and many of us have stopped going to stores.E-commerce has compressed the equivalent of several years of growth into a few months.
- Consumer behavior is bound to change while reaching the next normal.
Consumer experience will become more important now than ever before. The use of e-pharmacies and e-doctors have doubled or tripled in the United States during the crisis. While only 40%-60% of consumers say, they are willing to continue the services. Ecommerce companies need to understand their consumers’ needs and figure out where their services fall short.
The pandemic has led to a digital acceleration that’s clearly seen in developing countries like India and Brazil, even though from a low base. Consumers are adopting new behaviors all over the world. Gen Z is likely to have a high degree of digital adoption, but they’re also economically impacted due to self-employment and the sharing economy.
I also believe that behaviors are driven by personal values. Due to COVID-19, people are emphasizing health and hygiene. The coronavirus has been a wake-up call for all of us to reform our values.
All these factors should be taken into account to attract your potential audience.
- Companies need to revamp their marketing strategies in order to connect with their target audience.
In this rapidly changing environment, companies need to rethink how they can engage with their audience. You need to adjust quickly to changing consumer behavior until COVID-19 is under control.
You need to ask yourself the following questions?
Q.1) How consumers get information?
You need to spread awareness for your brand when online sources for information and entertainment have increased drastically. Reach out to your customers through the internet.
Q.2) Where consumers purchase from?
Along with online shopping, your consumers are even purchasing physically in stores. As health and hygiene take the highest priority, retailers need to revamp their cleaning process, including store layouts, opening hours, etc. You need to also differentiate between your shoppers. There are some who love shopping, and some are frequent shoppers. Draw the line between them.
Q.3) What consumers want to buy?
These days, customers are more health-conscious and have shifted away from cash payment to cashless systems and credit cards. Customers need omnichannel experiences like a drive-through, curbside pickup, and other delivery options that focus on health, safety, and convenience. It’s time to build trust with customers by providing an excellent shopping experience, especially during this time.
Q.4) How to improve consumer experience?
Customer preferences are changing rapidly, and e-commerce companies need to provide a strong feedback loop. By doing this, you’re improving your ability to collect data and acquire qualitative feedback to stay ahead of your competitors.
As the details of the next normal are still vague, e-commerce companies have an opportunity to shape a positive future in your industry. Join hands with the best content and digital marketing agency to help you move forward.
I hope you loved this post and have benefited from the same. Share your thoughts in the comments below.