Nothing has been the same since March, and “the same” may never be the same ever again—and not surprisingly, brand loyalty has proven to be a COVID casualty. New research from retail solutions firm Advantage Sales finds pandemic-driven out-of-stocks, growing safety and financial concerns, and changing values have spurred shoppers to try different retailers and brands—and many U.S. shoppers plan to stay with their newfound alternatives.
The firm’s new report, Shoppers’ Response to COVID-19 and the Outlook for Change, reveals that 6 in 10 shoppers chose to try an alternative to their primary retailer, either choosing another retailer’s brick-and-mortar store or online platform or Amazon during the pandemic.
While many shoppers turned to other brick-and-mortar locations, guidance to stay at home, concern about contracting COVID-19 and in-store out-of-stocks led to a mass movement to online shopping on retailers’ websites or Amazon. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of surveyed shoppers reported they have ordered food and non-foods online since the start of the pandemic. Even though online shoppers faced website glitches, delivery delays and out-of-stocks, 15 percent of U.S. shoppers say they plan to make more than half of their food purchases online in the future.
Out-of-stocks and a switch in retail locations also moved more than half (55 percent) of shoppers to stray from their preferred brands during the pandemic. More than one-fourth (28 percent) of these shoppers said they expected to make the brand switch permanent.
“The fallout of COVID-19—stay-at-home guidance, supply chain disruptions fueled by panic buying and pantry filling, a fear of contracting the virus and the sudden surge in unemployment—has shifted the way Americans shop, where they shop and what they are buying,” according to Kimberly Senter, executive vice president, analytics, insights and intelligence for Advantage Sales a division of Advantage Solutions, in a news release. “What’s more, according to our survey results, they plan to maintain many of their new shopping habits in the months to come.”
Among the report’s findings:
- Changes in shopper behavior are related to where shoppers live and how severely their area was affected by the pandemic.
- One-third of shoppers plan to spend more on groceries in the coming months.
- Store brands are gaining in popularity, including among prosperous Americans.
The report includes an exploration of the pandemic’s impact on the way consumers shop and brand loyalty, plus a breakdown of implications of shoppers’ changing behavior for brands and retailers.
The findings are based on the responses of 1,804 U.S. primary household shoppers and those who shared shopping responsibility participating in an online survey fielded between May 13 and May 18, 2020 by Advantage Sales’ Analytics, Insights & Intelligence team.