The impact of the pandemic has led to a noticeable shift in consumer behaviors, including an expanded awareness when it comes to savings and value—and brands and marketers need to shift and adjust their long-term engagement strategies to reflect these new market conditions, according to new research from marketing technology firm Valassis.
The firm’s newly released report, Consumer Intel Report, Chasing Value: The Mind of the Modern Shopper, reveals that as younger generations—especially Gen Z—garner increasingly more buying power, brand marketers must prioritize impactful engagements to build lasting relationships. In addition to monetary value, consumers—particularly younger generations—place increasing emphasis on identifying and connecting with a brand’s corporate values.
The study examines responses from more than 2,000 U.S. consumers in two separate surveys, noting how their shopping patterns and purchasing decisions have changed within specific categories including food, household goods and health & beauty care products amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings point to actionable insights at a time when brands are adjusting their approaches in building meaningful connections with consumers to drive increased engagement.
According to the survey, 70 percent of consumers have increased saving behaviors and 76 percent expect these new behaviors to continue over the next year, reinforcing the concept that the consumer adaptation to be more savings oriented will be more permanent vs. temporal.
The surveys reveal that 43 percent of all consumers say they are more likely to buy products from companies whose values match their own. Important among younger generations, this is true for 55 percent of millennials and 47 percent of Gen Z consumers.
“The modern shopper is resilient, quick to adopt online shopping options and actively seeks value,” said Michelle Engle, chief marketing officer at Valassis, in a news release. “For brands to spark consumer discovery, they must connect consumers with marketing at precise moments to accelerate a purchase. Our findings help illuminate a path forward as brands re-establish their relationship with the consumer. With the right tools to fully understand consumer behavior—including the strong desire for savings and a flexible, seamless shopping experience—brands can deliver on consumer needs and buying intentions as well as tap into what motivates them.”
According to the survey, marketing messages that include coupons, discounts and social media promotions have the potential to shorten the path to purchase:
- 61 percent indicated coupons or discounts can inspire them to try a new brand and 54% said it would lead them to make an impulse purchase.
- 60 percent indicated receiving a coupon or discount speeds up their decision to make a purchase.
Key takeaways from the report show:
Consumers lean into savings—while planning and post-purchase
- 76 percent of all consumers compare prices between brands using printed store circulars and 71 percent do so using online circulars.
- 51 percent of millennials and 43 percent of Gen Z consumers scan receipts with their mobile device to receive cash back or points post-purchase (compared to 31 percent of all consumers).
Brand values matter to consumers
- 71 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand or store they trust.
- 48 percent of all consumers say they are inclined to be loyal to a brand or store that shares its efforts to be environmentally responsible or has sustainable/ethical business practices.
An eagerness for shared experiences
- 45 percent of millennials and 33 percent of Gen Z share brand reviews including details of how much they saved (compared to 23 percent of all consumers).
- 35 percent of all consumers note they’ve made an unplanned purchase based on something they saw on social media (a 5 percentage-point increase from 2019).
A willingness to treat themselves
- Overall, 35 percent of consumers consider themselves to be predominantly impulse shoppers (up from 28 percent in 2019). When consumers make impulse buys in-store, 43% say that it’s out of a desire to “treat themselves.”
- Despite the ongoing pandemic, 45 percent of consumers are expanding their budget and ability to buy fun things or experiences by using coupons and discounts.
The studies were fielded in the fourth quarter of 2019 and June of 2020 in conjunction with a global, third-party market research firm with proficiency in internet surveys. The sample was derived from an online consumer opinion panel, and all participants were at least 18 years of age and living in the contiguous United States. Consumers were emailed an invitation to participate in the survey and were given three days to complete it. Each survey was closed once 1,000 completed responses (1,042 for the 2019 survey) had been reached.