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’.
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%
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)
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 safety – statistics 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
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’?
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.
“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
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