Other shopping behaviors caused by COVID-19, including use of subscription services, are also likely to continue
More than a third (39%) of consumers globally purchased from new brands during quarantine and a significant 88% will continue to buy from those brands in the future, according to new research conducted by Bazaarvoice Inc., the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC).
The pandemic has forced consumers in the US to explore alternative brands and shopping methods, branching out of their comfort zones into e-commerce or trying out new products as product availability became scarce. More than half (51%) of US consumers purchased from a different brand than usual or a brand they had never heard of before. There were significant differences in purchasing behaviors amongst the generations, with some being more adventurous than others. When it came to purchasing from different brands in this period, nearly seven in ten of 35-44 year olds tested out new product options, compared to only 32% of those over 65. However, 83% of all US shoppers plan to continue to buy from the newly discovered brand they discovered amidst the pandemic.
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The ‘Behavior that Sticks’ report 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 quarantine. When reviewing the behaviors that stick across the globe, there are key trends about shopping behaviors that resonated specifically with US shoppers: subscription services are on the rise, digital savviness is increasing amongst consumers, and social commerce and a sense of community will continue to play a role in the customer and brand relationship.
Subscriptions on the rise
Demand for specific products skyrocketed during the early stages of the pandemic, and with non-essential stores shuttered and grocery store shelves empty, 1 in 4 US consumers turned to subscription services to make it through quarantine. Much like the purchasing of new brands, once tried and tested, 85% will continue to pay for their subscription post lockdown, citing confidence in the product quality (48%), ease (48%) and regular and reliable delivery (38%).
Ease was a major factor for continuation of subscription services for those between 55 and 75 years old and regular and reliable delivery was a key benefit for 73% of shoppers over the age of 65.
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Savvy shoppers go digital
Price continues to be important for US shoppers, with 24% 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 (17%), making it clear that all retailers must deliver an omnichannel strategy.
Interestingly, despite the amount of time spent at home, television advertising remains one of the least influential platforms when it comes to purchasing a product, with just 5% of consumers being swayed by content they have seen there. Consumers are much more likely to be persuaded by positive reviews and product ratings (13%) from other shoppers as they look to purchase products in the next three months.
Being able to effectively communicate how a product works, looks and feels is crucial for brands and retailers facing this rapid shift to digital. During quarantine, over a third of Gen Z (40%) and millennials (42%) connected with a brand app during lockdown, with 66% using mobile self-checkout in physical stores.
“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,” said Suzin Wold, Senior VP of Marketing at Bazaarvoice. “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 media 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.”
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Consumers embrace Social Media for Shopping Inspiration
There is no question that there has been an unprecedented shift in consumer behavior, and one that will have a lasting impact on the retail industry. Social media channels will continue to play a significant role in influencing purchase decisions long after the pandemic.
When it comes to continuing shopping habits developed amidst the pandemic, more than half (51%) of millennials say they will continue to source recommendations from social networks, primarily through Facebook recommendations, and nearly half of millennials (48%) will continue to watch influencer unboxing videos/shopping hauls. It’s clear that consumers have developed new habits in how they source their information across online and social channels.
Wold continues, “Retailers and brands must stay in tune with consumers’ priorities over the coming months and ensure they provide store and product information that instills 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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