Webloyalty’s latest Digital Choice report reveals top 4 consumer trends formed during the pandemic that are here to stay
A new report from online retail experts Webloyalty, in partnership with London Economics launches today – looking into consumer behaviour, trends that have emerged through the pandemic, and looks to make predictions on which consumer trends will stick as we move towards a ‘post-pandemic’ world.
Key trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic:
- People are shopping online more– the pandemic has brought online shopping to new heights, with ecommerce growing by 46% in 2020 – it’s strongest growth for more than a decade. Out of necessity, the shift to online shopping happened quickly, with 600,000 UK households reportedly trying online shopping for the first time within the first few weeks of lockdown, and has only continued to grow. Recent figured from the Office for National Statistics found online-only retailers were the biggest winners during the pandemic, with sales up 56% compared with April 2019.
- More emphasis on spending money with brands that have a clear purpose– consumers are increasingly seeking out brands they trust, as well as brands that share their own moral system. A brand’s purpose is now more important than ever, especially when considering sustainability and the environment, as consumers are more environmentally aware and more likely to ‘vote with their wallets’.
- A rise in the experiential economy– there has been an uptick in the prevalence of consumers seeking out experiences, such as personal grooming and restaurant experiences, rather than spending money on physical items. Similarly, due to the additional time consumers have had as a result of restrictions, there has been an increased focused on self-improvement, whether that be health or learning new skills – with The Open University reporting more than 950,000 course enrolments during lockdown.
- Consumers are more likely to shop locally– the increasing amount of time spent at home has prompted consumers to shop locally more often; nearly two-thirds of UK consumers decided to buy closer to home and 52% of consumers said they shop locally to support local business owners.
- Social media even more important than before– the role of social media has become even more important, with social media platforms often serving as the main connection between consumers and brands. Influencers particularly have seen increasing engagement with live video content, where consumers have had more time to dip in and out of livestreams, where perhaps they hadn’t been able to before.
Ben Stirling, Managing Director at Webloyalty comments: “What our report reveals is trends borne out of how people react in unfamiliar circumstances, and how consumer behaviour shifts in situations that are out of their control. A clear example of this is that our report found that across the globe, more than half of all consumers have tried new shopping behaviours over the past year7. People have looked to the convenience of local outlets for their weekly shop, gone online to make purchases as a way to stick to guidelines and avoid too much interaction with others, and sought out experiences to fill time, all in the name of trying to get through an unprecedented and incredibly difficult time.
“Looking to the future it is hard to say exactly what trends brought about by the pandemic are likely to stick, but there are early signs and, in some cases, even evidence that some of these new behaviours are here to stay. The key for brands and businesses going forward will be how they harness any new customer engagement and foster loyalty, while flexing their approach to reflect these new consumer behaviours.”
Ben Stirling and London Economics’ speculation on what trends are here to stay:
- People will get back to a routine, but not necessarily their old one– given experimenting with new behavioural patterns takes a lot of effort, most consumers will go back to some sort of routine as we head towards living life without restrictions. It is unlikely, however, that these routines will mirror those of pre-pandemic times. In fact, across the globe, the majority of consumers who have had to change their shopping behaviours, such as doing their weekly grocery shop online, intend to keep this behaviour once the pandemic is over.
- Climate change and social issues will remain as important as ever– climate change and the environment are issues that have not been slowed down by the pandemic. Generation Z are particularly more aware of their social and environmental impact, and their identities are much more interwoven with fighting social issues. In future, brands and businesses will need to go even further to prove their environmental credentials to encourage loyalty amongst a younger generation of customers.
- There will be lasting changes to the way we shop– although there is a clear trend towards online purchases (and this trend will not go away), it is unlikely that shopping will disappear behind a screen completely. The convenience of the online shop is at odds with the personalised touch of the shop assistant. The high street shopping experience will be transformed. Shopping that is often considered a chore (e.g., groceries) will benefit from the convenience of the online world. Shopping as recreation is very much here to stay.
- We will continue to shop locally– in the short term, it is to be expected that people will leave the house more. We have all been deprived of social contact and want to make up for lost time. However, longer term it seems as though many will start spending more time at home, with a huge surge in hybrid working. As a result – the uptick in people spending money locally is likely here to stay. In the UK, nine in ten consumers who shopped locally have said they will continue doing so. People have gotten used to the convenience of shopping locally and it may help bolster people’s sense of community.
Charlotte Duke, partner at London Economics: “The pandemic has been a worldwide event like no other, forcing us to change our behaviours in the blink of an eye. As we look toward reopening our economies again, in this report we discuss the behavioural changes we expect to continue in a post-pandemic world and what this means for the future of acquisition and loyalty.”
Download the report here.
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