COVID-19 and the appetite to shop—new shifts in consumer behavior

by | Jul 9, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

New research from marketing tech and consumer engagement firm Valassis examines emerging consumer behaviors amid the COVID pandemic as states lift restrictions and businesses reopen—allowing brands to tailor marketing efforts in relevant, compelling ways, driven by current consumer demands.

Based on responses from 1,000 U.S. consumers, the research reveals consumers still have an appetite to shop, despite the global health crisis. In fact, 36 percent have made an impulse purchase based on an advertisement since the pandemic began, and 65 percent of consumers said they’ll make an unplanned purchase just to treat themselves in the next month.

“Consumers have had to change the way they live and shop over the last few months, creating, for some, pent-up demand for novelty and discovery,” said Carrie Parker, vice president of marketing at Valassis, in a news release. “While saving money is top of mind, we see that many consumers are looking to discover new products, using deals and offers as a purchase catalyst. Connecting the dots between shifting behavior, purchase motivations and preferred ways of engaging will enable marketers to use this consumer desire for novelty to make a real brand connection.”

Compared to a survey conducted in mid-March, more consumers believe new shopping behaviors will become a part of their routine in the future. In retail, 19 percent of consumers will use buy online, pick-up in-store options more often (versus 10 percent in March). When it comes to restaurant purchases, 29 percent believe they’ll choose to carry-out from restaurants more often (versus 20 percent in March). Additionally, 23 percent of consumers will use restaurant delivery more often moving forward (versus 18 percent in March). This number spikes to 36 percent among younger consumers (ages 25-34).

Additional findings include:

Shifting behavior creates opportunity

  • 76 percent of consumers enjoy discovering new products based on deals they receive from brands.
  • 53 percent of consumers have tried a new grocery store, 52 percent have tried a new restaurant and 49 percent have tried a new retailer since the pandemic began.
  • Across all three categories, the biggest driver for trying a new establishment was an offer, discount or deal.

Consumers are tuned into deals

  • 46 percent are paying more attention to advertisements offering promotions and deals now compared to before the pandemic began, with 18- to 24-year-olds (52 percent) and 25- to 34-year-olds (50 percent) even more closely tuned in.
  • When asked what has influenced them to make a purchase since the pandemic began, 22 percent of consumers said social media—with 41 percent of 18-24-year-olds and 34 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds noting this.
  • Interestingly, digital online advertisements and offers received in the mail had about the same level of influence on purchases, at 22 percent and 23 percent respectively, reinforcing the need for an omnichannel approach.

Summer promotions create excitement

  • 65 percent of consumers are looking forward to shopping summer sales and promotions.
  • Consumers noted they plan to shop online (26 percent), in-store (19 percent) or both (20 percent) for summer sales and promotions.

Valassis surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand how behavior is shifting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All respondents were located in the United States and were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted in mid-June 2020 and is the fourth in a series on this topic. The first survey took place in mid-March.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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