With lockdown restrictions having a huge affect on the way we shop, marketers and retailers will inevitably have to consider which consumer behaviours are likely to change for good.
With 69% of Brits stating that they more likely to shop online than before the pandemic to brand loyalties changing as 1 in 4 shoppers reveal that they intend to repurchase from fashion brands they have discovered in the last year, the future of how and where we market goods to consumers is likely to have changed forever.
So What Does the Future Hold for Marketers?
A 2021 study of UK consumer behaviours conducted by Google in conjunction with Trinity McQueen revealed five key findings in relation to changing consumer behaviours and attitudes – both online and on the high street.
- Online-based experiences are here to stay.
Online shopping has played a major part in changing retail behaviours over the last decade. However, fashion, beauty and telecommunications industry consumers in particular have reported an increased willingness to continue to shop online vs in-store during the next 6 months, higher than pre-pandemic levels.
For marketers, this means that there is an increased opportunity for brand and product exposure. Consumers browsing social media and other forms of online entertainment can be exposed to products, whether they are actively seeking them or not.
One method Google suggests is using Smart Shopping Campaigns . These campaigns are effective in enabling marketers to reach potential consumers easily across Google’s sites and increase the chance of the right products being shown to the right people at the right time.
- Shopping attitudes have changed across demographics.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger consumers have remained the most likely to shop online. However there has been a significant increase in the number of over 35’s choosing to shop online vs shopping in-store.
This provides a problem for retail stores who previously relied on this age group for high-street footfall and in-store purchases.
While there are still plenty of people who enjoy the ‘in-person retail experience’, it may be time for marketers to look at ways to compliment both their online presence with their in-store experience rather than replacing one with the other.
- The pandemic is not the only reason people are shopping online.
With the closure of ‘non-essential’ stores during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns resulting in an increase in online purchases, the pandemic isn’t the only reason people are choosing to continue purchasing products online.
46% of beauty consumers in the 18-34 age group now say that the ease of finding specific products is their main reason for shopping online
40% of 35-54 year olds listing ‘convenience’ as a main driver behind their changing behaviours.
However, the pandemic was still very much at the forefront of the minds of the 55+ age group as 54% of their purchases came as a result of wanting to avoid stores due to the presence of COVID-19.
Regardless of their reasons for choosing to make online purchases, the value of being able to order products to their home during this time is something that is likely to remain and it is important for marketers to focus their efforts on building audiences based on their intent if they want to remain competitive.
- New brand loyalties have formed.
Since the first national lockdown was announced, 1 in 4 fashion consumers bought something from a new brand or retailer. With 75% of womenswear and 82% of menswear shoppers saying that they will continue to purchase items from those same retailers over the next 6 months, it’s safe to say that our overall brand loyalties have changed.
Instead of seeking specific brands, consumers are exploring their purchasing options further while being stuck in the ‘messy middle’ step of their online shopping journey.
Their more generic searches include things such as “best electric car” (+80% year-on-year) and “vegan meals” (+58% YoY) provide marketers with more opportunities to present their products to consumers who are now more undecided than ever when shopping online.
Marketers can take full advantage of this by ensuring they make their products seen on search engines, Youtube and Pinterest, where users are likely to make such generic searches.
- The strategic role of the store has evolved.
The study provided participants with a number of aspects affecting the shopping experience (such as ‘ability to compare’ and ‘ability to get advice’) and asked them to rate whether they found them to be better or worse online or offline. The results showed that the younger age group show more of a preference towards an online vs offline shopping experience in comparison to older age groups.
Marketers need to have an awareness of how investments in particular areas of the retail experience affect the customer experience both online and in-stores.