The coronavirus-inspired changes in online shopping look set to stick with a new global study showing that, of the two-fifths (39%) of consumers who decided to buy new brands during lockdown, the vast majoroty (88%) will continue to do so in the future.
So says the “Behaviour that Sticks” report from Bazaarvoice, which includes insights about shopping habits from more than 8,000 consumers across the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany and Australia and explores the trends likely to continue post lockdown.
In the UK, nearly half (46%) of consumers shopped online at least once a week during lockdown, with 1 in 5 making multiple purchases a week. Younger generations were more adventurous when it came to purchasing from different brands in this period, with almost two thirds (62%) of Gen Z (18- to 24-year-olds) testing out new options, compared to just 25% of over 65s.
Despite retail stores reopening and consumers having more choice now, just 12% of Brits plan to revert to their pre-lockdown product choices, even though almost half (44%) only elected to try a new brand because their preferred brand was unavailable. Reasons shoppers won’t continue to buy from the new brand they discovered are that it is too expensive (18%) or that they prefer more sustainable options (15%).
Demand for specific products skyrocketed during the early stages of the pandemic, and with non-essential stores shuttered and supermarket shelves empty, 1 in 5 UK consumers turned to subscription services to make it through lockdown.
Much like the purchasing of new brands, once tried and tested, 80% will continue with their subscription post lockdown, citing confidence in the product quality (52%), ease (45%) and regular and reliable delivery (32%). The availability of ratings and reviews was also a key factor for younger consumers, with 15% of 18- to 34-year-olds citing it as a reason to remain loyal to their subscription services.
Meanwhile, price continues to be important for UK shoppers, with 31% citing it as the most influential factor in any purchases they will make in the next three months. The ability to buy products online will also be a big deciding factor (23%), making it clear that all retailers must deliver an omnichannel strategy.
One factor which will not go down well in adland is that, despite the amount of time spent at home, TV advertising remains one of the least influential platforms when it comes to purchasing a product, with just 4% of consumers being swayed by content they have seen on the telly.
Consumers are much more likely to be persuaded by positive reviews and product ratings (15%) from other shoppers, as they look to purchase products in the next three months.
The report also shows the importance of being able to effectively communicate how a product works, looks and feels for brands and retailers facing this rapid shift to digital.
During lockdown, over a third of Gen Z (35%) and millennials (34%) connected with a brand app during lockdown, with 34% using chat-bots to connect with sales associates prior to purchasing.
Bazaarvoice senior vice-president of marketing Suzin Wold said: “Amazon has been one of the big winners of the last few months, but the opportunity for other brands to win loyalty from new customers as people’s habits change is huge. The success of subscription services reflects the rapid digital evolution we have experienced this year.
“Younger consumers are some of the most powerful influencers and their use of social plays a large part in enabling customers to share experiences that credit these brands. In addition, their reliance on ratings and reviews content only highlights the enormous opportunity brands have to use the voice of the customer to create more meaningful shopper experiences, which ultimately results in more sales and customer loyalty.”
Before the end of October, 80% of UK consumers admit they are likely to purchase online, with three quarters (74%) of Brits now feeling comfortable shopping over the Internet.
When it comes to shopping in-store, two-thirds of consumers say they are likely to do so before the end of October, however, just 41% feel comfortable in doing so. There are key considerations for bricks and mortar retailers in order to increase footfall; over half of consumers (52%) will be wary of returning to shop in-store if they do not trust retailers to maintain cleanliness, whilst 39% feel transparency of safety and hygiene protocol is also critical.
Wold concluded: “Retailers and brands must stay in tune with consumers’ priorities over the coming months and ensure they provide store and product information that instils confidence in shoppers.
“As consumers return in-store, the use of technology to connect online and offline and provide shoppers with product information before they visit will be important. An omnichannel approach not only enables a stronger connection with consumers but also creates a seamless experience.”
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