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Eye on Retail: Consumers shop differently during COVID-19 pandemic

BY Dan Berthiaume

COVID-19 is having a major impact on every aspect of life, and shopping is not exempt.

According to a new survey of 1,000 consumers from marketing technology and consumer engagement firm Valassis, half of respondents have reported changing their online shopping behavior during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This figure includes 42% who are shopping online more and 8% who are shopping online less.

One in 10 respondents have tried buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) for the first time, while 13% have increased the frequency in which they’re using it. Three in 10 haven’t used BOPIS yet, but may consider it.

Nearly half (46%) of consumers have changed their social media usage during the pandemic. Thirty-nine percent are on social media more during the coronavirus pandemic, while 7% noted they are using it less.

The pandemic is also prompting some consumers to increase their usage of delivery services. Fourteen percent of respondents have used grocery delivery services for the first time, while 13% have increased the frequency in which they are using the service. Another 32% have not used grocery delivery yet, but may consider it.

And 10% of respondents have used restaurant delivery services for the first time, while 14% have increased the frequency in which they are using the service. Another 27% have not used restaurant delivery yet, but may consider it.

Looking at how the pandemic is affecting consumer behavior in regard to restaurant carry-out, 12% of respondents have ordered carry-out from a restaurant for the first time, while 19% have increased the frequency in which they are using it. More than one in five (22%) have not ordered carry-out yet, but may consider it.

While the coronavirus pandemic isn’t completely upsetting brand loyalty, survey results indicate some buying behaviors have shifted. Close to half (48%) of respondents are continuing to purchase the same brands they always do, while 21% are purchasing a mix of their usual brands, as well as new brands.

In addition, 13% of respondents are taking the opportunity to discover new brands, while 19% are feeling less brand loyal and purchasing whatever brand is available. The majority of respondents (87%) appreciate brands that go out of their way to deliver relevant and timely information during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes 46% noted they “strongly agree,” with another 41% somewhat agreeing.

Just over half of respondents expect to adopt new shopping behaviors as part of their routine in the future, after the threat of coronavirus clears, while 48% don’t expect to adopt new shopping behaviors following the pandemic.

Valassis surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult consumers during the week of March 16.

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