4 Shifts in Consumer Behavior That Could Long Outlast the Pandemic

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S., restrictions, supply chain disruptions and health concerns pushed consumers to change how they shopped, worked, traveled, ate, learned and interacted with one another. Nearly a year on, as consumers have tried new products and services and completely overhauled their routines, it looks like a number of these changes are here to stay. 

These 4 shifts in consumer behavior were brought on or accelerated by the pandemic, but are poised to long outlast it:

  • Prioritizing health
  • Investing in staying home
  • Embracing local
  • Shifting to digital

Learn more about how Klēn helps your business support new consumer priorities and quickly adapt to changing circumstances. 

Prioritizing health

Covid-19 brought with it a higher level of concern and increased awareness of health and fitness, with people adopting new routines and changing their spending patterns accordingly.

Health and fitness

Exercise habits changed during the pandemic, with many people ramping up their fitness regimes. Sales of fitness equipment like bicycles, running shoes, kettlebells and dumbbells skyrocketed in early 2020, leading to shortages in Europe and some parts of the U.S. and Canada. 

Use of fitness apps and outdoor activities increased exponentially, and according to a survey in late 2020 by PwC, 48% of respondents who had adopted new fitness habits during the pandemic said they intended to keep them up for the long term.

A recent report by Whole Foods also highlighted the number one food trend of 2021: immune-boosting health foods, a clear sign that consumers continue to make health a top priority.

Cleaning and sanitization

People are increasingly attuned to the spread of germs and their own vulnerability to illness, and continue to care about health and safety when choosing how to spend their money.

According to a recent survey by McKinsey & Company, the top factors when deciding where to shop were: 

  • Masks and barriers: 33% of respondents
  • Cleaning and sanitization: 29%
  • Contactless payment options: 13%

With the ongoing concern surrounding Covid-19 and its variants, consumers are likely to remain hyper-aware of how businesses are prioritizing cleanliness, safety, and distancing when deciding where to shop and what to buy. 

Klēn helps your business manage customers’ health and safety concerns with a transparent, AI-driven application that makes it easier for businesses to stay on top of industry regulations, CDC recommendations and local restrictions while also making it easier for customers to see how you’re looking out for their health.

Investing in staying home

When lockdowns and stay-at-home orders forced people to spend more time inside, people started nesting. From knitting to baking sourdough, to learning how to DIY home improvements, redecorating (with the help of Pinterest, of course) and brewing beer in the basement—you name it, people tried it. 

As consumers continue to cook more at home, develop new skills, and pick up new hobbies,  these pandemic-induced activities and new tastes have become embedded in day-to-day life, reinforcing a focus on product source, quality and value for money. People are buying more high-quality essential goods to use at home, like local seasonal produce, quality cooking ingredients, and natural cleaning supplies, while buying fewer non-essential items like cosmetics and fashion. 

This shift is influencing shopping and eating choices as customers get back to restaurant dining and in-person shopping, sparking an interest in products that support their at-home endeavours. Even when they go out for dinner, consumers are looking for products they can use at home like infused cooking oils and spice blends from a favorite restaurant, or bartending tutorials they can join online.

Consumers have also become painfully aware of some of the difficulties of complex, geographically dispersed supply chains, reinforcing the appreciation for locally-sourced products when choosing a restaurant or deciding where to shop.

Embracing local businesses

A bright spot for small business is that people still prefer to shop local, even if they’re buying online. In a survey conducted by Groupon last summer, 75% of respondents planned to increase their support of local small businesses to help support the local economy, and Google found that 61% of shoppers prefer to buy online from a store that had a nearby physical location, indicating a desire to stay close to home even when shopping online.

As more people spend time in their local areas and less time in transit, they are forging more connections with neighbors, the local community and small businesses, a trend that is likely to continue as remote arrangements become more permanent. 

Shifting to digital

The big move to digital came early on in the pandemic as people quickly adopted online shopping, food ordering, curbside pickup and contactless payments; the newfound convenience and efficiency makes these shifts likely to stick around.

Personalized and omnichannel shopping

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, despite a decline in overall retail sales from 2019, ecommerce sales jumped by 44.5% in the second quarter of 2020, and stayed elevated relative to total retail sales until the end of the year. However, people are indeed returning to stores in person, even as they continue to shop online. 

With Covid-19 an ongoing concern for both shoppers, their expectations of retailers have changed, likely for good. Customers now expect 24/7 customer service, whether from an in-site chatbot or from a real customer service representative, and they expect a seamless, omnichannel transition between their online and in-person interactions.

Consumers now also expect retailers to ensure that key Covid-19 health protocols are in place with measures like increased sanitization, hand sanitizer stations, reduced store capacities, separate pickup areas, and virtual waitlists. 

People do want to shop in person, but with the accelerated the shift to ecommerce, personalized customer service and a consistent, complementary experience across all channels, including the brick-and-mortar, will continue to be important to consumers going forward

Contactless payment

Payment technology took great strides in adoption over the past year as consumers and businesses switched to contact-free payment options like GooglePay, ApplePay and Venmo, all of which allow the user to pay for purchases directly through their own mobile phone. 

‘Tap’ credit card readers were widely adopted across customer-facing industries like food service and retail, with Mastercard reporting global growth of 40% in contactless payments in 2020, and Visa reporting growth of 150% in contactless transactions in the U.S. alone. 

Accelerating a trend that was already underway, the pandemic has made secure, contactless technology the new payment standard.

Klēn can help your business keep up with changing regulations and address customer health concerns all in one powerful, easy-to-use application.

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