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eStar project manager Patrick Gaskin discusses the key trends defining the new COVID Consumer

As the pandemic rolls on into the second half of the year, its impact shows no signs of abating. Lockdown has been followed by eased restriction, only to be followed by further restrictions and fear. This ebb and flow, albeit predictable until we have a vaccine, is having a significant impact on people. Lives are continuing to be turned upside down and everything about how someone defined as his/her own way of life continues to dramatically shift against their own will. The lack of control continues to create widespread anxiety.

As businesses try to navigate these extraordinary times it is critical to remember that consumers have changed too. What may have worked before COVID-19 may not work now.

To help you navigate the current state of play it helps to look at the trends that define the new COVID consumer. We have identified 10 that are impacting eCommerce in particular.

1. Two in three consumers say they expect to reduce how frequently they engage with various out-of-home leisure activities for the foreseeable future. This will impact restaurants, live events and gatherings in places like bars and cinemas.

2. Consumers will continue to seek out new connections and nurture relationships remotely. This has been especially true when restrictions are tighter.

3. The majority of society have been accepting of increased community surveillance and less privacy in attempts to restrict and track the spread of the virus. For most this is seen as a matter of the “greater good”, but some segments of society are vocal opponents of this.

4. The shared experience of the pandemic along with social unrest in the United States has seen a heightened sense of empathy. Those brands who demonstrate how they contributed to “good” are finding it easier and faster to bounce back compared to those that are focused on contacting consumers with campaign driven content.

5. Where excess was once seen as a “badge of honor” the pandemic has reshaped the consumer thinking on non-essential spending. Brands exhibiting behaviours around anti-excess and recycling have seen increased support since the start of the pandemic.

6. Aware and concern for the supply chain is prompting consumers to gravitate back to known brand names because there is a perception that they have a more solid, established, and reliable supply chain.

7. After a surge following restrictions easing, people are less inclined to visit bricks and mortar stores whilst uncertainty and anxiety remain high.

8. Almost one in three consumers say they are waiting for products to be on promotion. They are also four times more likely to hold out for promotions for a trusted brand rather than looking for cheaper options from an alternative brand.

9. Consumers are gravitating to “local”. This hyper-focus on “local” is an extension of the growth seen in empathy, where there is a growing desire to keep the money in the local community. This is driven by a natural human instinct of survival and a sense of belonging.

10. Online shopping will continue to grow. Over 40% say they will shop online more frequently after the outbreak. This reflects the good experiences people had when moving to online during lockdown. Those positive experiences have made the behaviour more embedded and will speed up the shift to online that was already underway before the pandemic.

While the data and trends look positive for online buying behaviours, retailers must work harder to enhance and create amazing end-to-end online buying experiences.

While online buying is becoming more embedded into the new way of doing things a consumer’s tolerance for poor experiences has not changed. In fact, this tolerance has become lower due to the high occurrence of bad experiences being experienced by retailers who were caught unprepared during the pandemic.

Moreover, consumers are sending clear signals to retailers. They want to buy digitally and will continue to do so if new needs and expectations can be met.

Ten Trends

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