Has the Consumer gone Bonkers ?

Some may say most of their customers are bonkers and always have been . But the real question, but less attractive title is Has the consumer changed in the last eighteen months, (or since covid started in the West Feb 2020).

Again most would say Yes, but would have more difficulty quantifying those changes and whether they will last .

There has been a seismic change in what people are buying and how they are buying it. According to Selligent’s most recent consumer survey 60% consumers now focus on buying essential items and almost a third (29%) say their shopping behaviours have changed forever.

These changes have been largely driven by a change in employment, with 75% of global respondents reporting that they have less work. Despite the economy and jobs market recovering, conservative approaches to spending will have a lasting effect, making it more important for brands to cater to cost conscious customers in the long term.

MarketingTech Anne Jarry March 2021

Selligent is a Belgian company ,with offices throughout the world and is an intelligent omnichannel marketing cloud platform. So whilst having a Global perspective they specialize in something most have of us have never heard about (they have been going since 1990 for crying out loud). Therefore a Global perspective with very specific ideas, perhaps.

Consider some of the changes that have happened with consumer behaviour since March 2020.

  1. Dramatic increase in online shopping-Overall, online sales rose to a record high of 33.9% as a share of all retail spending-Office For National Statistics 2021

2. Increase in shopping local -People are shopping more with local brands, both for convenience and to support their community: 46% are shopping in closer neighbourhood stores and 80% feel more or as connected to their communities. Paypal US December 2020. However, I would suggest a similar pattern, certainly in the UK

3. Caution in spending – More of a do I really need that ….attitude. Will I be in a job tomorrow ?

4. Nearly 40% of consumers are likely to use touch-free payments via mobile devices or credit cards, avoiding cash and person-to-person exchanges and opting for more hygienic methods. Consumers across the globe also plan to continue using low-touch services like self-checkout. PayPal US

5. Delay in consideration of environmental issues- In 2020, Euromonitor found that 73% of professionals believe sustainability efforts are critical to success. Interestingly, environmental initiatives in particular were waylaid in 2020 as companies and consumers rapidly changed their behaviour in response to the unique circumstances created by COVID-19: 51% of professionals reported increased use of plastic packaging, and respondents also noted delays in recycling, waste reduction and green technology efforts. Feb 2021 Retail TouchPoints

6. Trying something new . Consumers are trying new brands and products for accessibility and curiosity. Almost 30% have reported picking up new hobbies during quarantine, prompting them to discover new brands they will continue to shop with in the future. In China, studies showed 28% of consumers switched to a new store for convenience and stock availability, and 47% of them do not intend to switch back after the pandemic. PayPal US. Not sure about the China example but there is plenty of subjective evidence to show many took up new hobbies. This has been illustrated within our own Party Market. A huge number of people (and in the US) in the UK took up Balloon decorating via watching YouTube videos (On Balloon decorating !).

7. Personal Care. Google searches for “No Poo” (meaning no shampoo) have more than doubled in the last six weeks, as consumers take this opportunity to stop washing their hair or use alternatives like apple cider vinegar. Inferring a decline in expenditure of personal care products.

8. Change in working practices . Less expenditure in city centre establishments as home working continues . More working from home also leads to increase spending locally.

I shall take each one of the changes individually.

  1. Well Holy Moley! Most shops were closed, you could only move one metre from your house, you had to go out blindfolded and gagged and online sales only went up 34%. Well what a surprise or rather its a surprise the number is not greater. That said the volume of food sales has dropped back (online) . That’s no surprise as we can go out now ! Of course it will have moved more to shopping online or rather hastened a changing pattern.
  2. Again , where else could we go ? I do, however, think good local independent local retailers will have benefitted from a shift here. As to how the working from home and the return from furlough will reduce this trend is anyone’s guess. But at least it has shown some that they do actually have some quite good shops under their noses.
  3. This is balanced against those who have done well out of lockdown ie those working from home , who have no commuting costs and not spent anything on holidays and going out.
  4. The increase touch free payment was already happening this however has accelerated it. The trend will continue .
  5. I don’t know .
  6. The consequence of this is yet to be defined as it to a degree it is on going and will continue for some tiome as shortages continue. If the consumer is happy with the ‘different brand’ then i suspect there will be some quite big changes or there will be a lot more competition amongst the big brands.
  7. Not convinced this will continue.
  8. A change has happened and it will be difficult ot reverse. That said I am not at all convinced it is going to quiet as seismic as some ‘experts predict’.

Now I’m not quite up to speed with Cloud nine, metaphysical data analysing and marketing platform capabilities but I think a lot of these had started well before Covid. What has happened is their development has been hastened during the pandemic.

Most consumers have always been a bit bonkers . The consumer is an ever changing beast and always has been . What any of us who have any involvement in the retail market have to do is ascertain how long the changes that have occurred will remain and how they may evolve into something else .

One of many confusing tables produced to show Consumer habits during Covid

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