Published November 8, 2020

How COVID-19 has affected consumer trends


2020 has been quite a year. The Covid-19 outbreak has affected almost every aspect of our lives. From the way we work to, the way we socialise, the world has shifted and we have had to adapt quickly. These dramatic shifts in the way we live our lives have inevitably impacted business and consumer trends. There has been an 80% reduction in travel and related tourist spend whereas home streaming services and eCommerce have reported increased sales and subscriptions. While different industries have been affected in different ways there are trends that have appeared across all consumer activity.


Mindful consumerism

With many people experiencing financial uncertainty during this time there has been a significant rise in mindful shopping, meaning consumers are making more considered decisions about where they’re spending their money.  In the UK, this shopping trend has increased by 44% since the start of the Covid outbreak and 32% of people say they have switched to cheaper versions of the products they buy frequently. 18% of people also report that they now take more time to research a brand or product before they commit to purchasing. 

There has also been a shakeup of the consumer’s hierarchy of needs. They are spending more on health and hygiene and less on things like entertainment and luxury goods. Frequency of spending has also decreased with consumers buying what they need in bulk. 

Consider reviewing your prices or think about how your brand or business may be perceived online. What impression does your brand give to a new consumer? 


Emphasis on trust 

Now more than ever, the consumer values trust and looks for credible brands when parting with their money. 83% of consumers say they are drawn to brands that show empathy and acknowledge the struggles that their consumers may be facing. This care for the consumer also extends to the care of business employees. Throughout the pandemic, various brands have been in the media for either taking great care of their employees or failing to support them. Food retailer, Co-op, opened job vacancies specifically for hospitality workers that were made redundant and donated food vouchers to children who receive free school meals. In contrast, a cinema chain, Cineworld, terminated almost all of their employee’s contracts with immediate effect when the lockdown was announced. Subsequently, consumers will be discouraged or encouraged to spend with these brands depending on how they have been portrayed in the media. Going forward, consumers will spend with brands that care, protect, problem solve and hold trust and honesty in high regard.  


The effect on Ecommerce

Naturally, as many businesses were forced to close their physical stores during lockdown the figures of people online shopping skyrocketed. At the height of the pandemic in the UK the amount of people shopping online increased by 129%. Although many stores have reopened or are working at reduced hours this consumer trend is definitely here to stay. Therefore it is vital that your online presence and customer experience on your website is seamless, trustworthy and easy to navigate. 

Likewise are you able to offer any deals to your customers to make their shopping experience better? During the lockdown, retailers such as ASOS and Kiehls offered free delivery on all orders, extended return windows and created discount codes to make online shopping more appealing while physical stores were closed. How are you assisting your online customers and what are the benefits of shopping with you rather than your competitors?


What does this mean going forward?


Reinvent or enhance the customer experience 

Many consumers are still reluctant to venture out of their homes to buy non-essential goods. If you have a physical store think about how you’re safeguarding your consumers and ensure you create a safe and hygienic environment that they will be comfortable in. If you sell online, ensure your website is easy to navigate and use and think about what you can offer the customer in terms of deals on multiple purchases or delivery charges to sweeten the eCommerce experience.


What values does your brand stand for? 

Think about your thought leadership as a brand. Ensure you are doing the most for your employees and consumers. Acknowledge their struggles and, as best as you can, put measures in place to alleviate them. Celebrate your employees and your wider network in your marketing activities and be vocal about social and community issues. Creating this kind of thought leadership will enhance your brand and create a sense of community that consumers buy into. 


Engage with your customers and the wider audience is crucial

Engagement with your customers is important under any circumstances but making an effort to let them know you’re united with them in their struggles in this uncertain time is vital in creating a trustworthy presence. With people having more time on their hands they are engaging in social media more than ever so use this to your advantage. Posting content on the platforms you use and creating engagement is mutually beneficial. You are providing content to entertain and inform customers while they are engaging in it and increasing your exposure.

Miriam Collett

Media Communications Executive

Inspired Business Media