Login >
0191 313 0300


Open up to new: what’s really going on with shoppers?

The law of cause and effect is a fascinating concept. For example, introduce social distancing and the nation’s daytime internet usage roughly doubles. Implement lockdown and national/local radio stations report double-digit increases in both reach and listening hours – with TV viewing figures up 18%.

None of which really comes as a huge surprise.

But what has surprised many is how a global pandemic has left them questioning long-held beliefs. From the way people live and work to the way they shop, all aspects of life are being placed under a microscope – forcing a reassessment of their commitment to ‘normal’.

A new type of shopper


New dynamics

Focusing on shopper behaviour, the 2007/8 recession provides a benchmark for what to expect. Back then consumers were seen to cut back, trade down, or to leave certain categories all together. Decisions that often remained permanent.

Fast-forward to today and evidence suggests that one third of consumers have already delayed some purchases.

Looking more closely at the overall consumer market, four groups of shopper have emerged during lockdown and beyond:

  • The cautious (cutting back on some spending) – estimated at 44%

  • The undeterred (spending levels remain unaffected) – at 33%

  • The hibernators (cutting back on all non-essential purchases) – at 21%

  • And the confident (spending levels have risen) – at 6%

New behaviours, fresh expectations

Alongside a re-imaging of core shopper personas, other trends are also detectable, including:

  • The shift to online – including a third of shoppers buying items for the first time that traditionally have been purchased in store

  • Focusing on the essentials – with restaurants closed or harder to access, more people are eating at home (22% of consumers are now buying more groceries and plan to continue doing so)

Then there are new consumer needs for retailers to accommodate, with the ‘big three’ being:

  • The pursuit of value – where a shift to trusted brands is accompanied by greater online choice and less impulse buying

  • Store safety – with 62% of shoppers feeling less positive about entering physical stores, exceptional hygiene levels and effective social distancing are now basic table stakes

  • Online safetystatistics show that 16,352 people fell victim to ecommerce fraud during lockdown (losing over £16 million in the process), once again highlighting the critical importance of offering secure payment processing

New values


A new normal

As retailers pivot (the latest buzzword) to this new reality, the question on everybody’s lips is simple: are we witnessing permanent change or will shopper behaviour slowly return to a pre-Covid ‘ordinary’?

Current research suggests not. A survey by Wunderman Thompson Commerce reveals that only one in six (16%) of UK consumers plan to pick up old habits again post lockdown.

The same research house also offers up some interesting findings on the psychological impact of the current crisis:

  • 56% of the UK now value ‘togetherness’ more

  • A third value material possessions less

  • 20% put less value on personal appearance

It’ll be interesting to see how future marketing campaigns respond to such sentiment.


Final thoughts and recommendations

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading,” said the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. Granted he was most likely not talking to retailers directly, though the point remains valid: setting a new course now is going to prove advantageous, but in what direction? Our top four recommendations would be:

  • Take stock of what you offer, simplify and streamline product ranges whenever possible

  • Try to avoid planning assumptions based on past performance

  • Strike the right balance between delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience and ensuring customer safety (both online and in-store)

  • Do not get stuck in survival mode – addressing the needs of the post-Covid shopper requires a clear plan put in place today

Related Content

Changing the Retail Landscape

From fighting over toilet rolls to shopping local: find out about headline developments in retail 2020, there are many reasons to be optimistic as businesses align to a new market reality.

Learn More

The New Consumer

Retailers have recently seen the law of cause and effect in full force, find out about the latest shopper trends, changes in consumer behaviour, and the psychological impact this is likely to have moving forward.

Learn More

New Ideas and Innovation

Find out about demons in Brussels sprouts, and how retailers are responding to the current crisis – including the reinvention of core services and finding new ways to delight customers.

Learn More

Rise of the Online Local

From Klingon cloaking devices to new options in home delivery: discover how consumers are turning to local providers in growing numbers, and the possibilities opening up for online local retailers.

Learn More

Call us now

Get started online