As we approach a full-on post-COVID world (sooner than later, hopefully!), brands and retailers will be dealing with the collateral damage of the pandemic for some time—and in many ways, as a permanent part of the new normal. New research from business challenges consultancy EPAM Continuum explores Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers’ spending habits across the food, fitness, fashion, travel and home industries.
The first in a four-part study, the firm’s new project follows a consumer council made up of 71 younger shoppers—examining these habits through discussion forums, Q&As, diaries and vlogs.
“Both established retailers and consumer product companies are facing a heightened sense of disruption from marketplaces and direct-to-consumer acceleration, but also massive societal shifts and cultural change,” said Alex van Gestel, VP of consumer products at EPAM, in a news release. “How technology and marketing leaders respond to this and pivot will be critical. In order to re-calibrate plans and find new ways forward, businesses need fresh data points and insights. This research should help shine a light on new possibilities.”
The new state of hybrid living:
Key themes discovered from the 2021 Consumers Unmasked study include:
Whatever else matters, value for money matters more
Value for money (a combination of quality, availability, choice and price) is a key trigger.
Finding the best deal is a ‘badge of honor’
Searching for the best price became a challenge and finding it was seen as an achievement.
Rewarding experiences are expected
Consumers grew to expect more from their online experiences—they anticipate seamless, but also expect fun.
Ethics climb the leaderboard
Many consumers voiced respect for brands that do (or are trying to do) good, but said altruism needs to be genuine and transparent.
COVID-19 concerns remain
The uncertainty of the pandemic manifested itself in numerous ways.
“We are emerging from one of the most sustained periods of social instability in modern times. It is a period that has changed us all,” said Natalie Gross, VP, head of brand strategy at EPAM, in the release. “We felt it would be valuable to truly understand which new buying habits are sticking and why and explore how current emotions and behaviors will translate into sustained behaviors over a period of time.”
EPAM Continuum is the integrated business, experience, technology and data consulting practice of EPAM Systems, Inc. The study will return in September 2021 with a quantitative survey to back up the qualitative data analyzed to date.