As a result of COVID, retail shopping continues to be significantly impacted by the move to e-commerce, working from home and concerns about the economy, according to market researcher Provoke Insights, which presented its findings during Wednesday's Radio Advertising Bureau webinar “Meet the New Retail Shopper.” Among those findings is that seven in 10 radio listeners shop based on quality vs. price, three-fourths believe price is still more important than brand names and three-fourths like comparing prices across different sites before purchasing.
“You'd think that given the concern for the economy, that price is the most important thing people consider when selecting a brand, [but] that's not true,” Provoke Insights President Carly Fink says. “There is still a price factor, but quality is a very large part of the decision process. [It's] the number one area for brands to promote.”
Based on surveys of thousands of consumers before, during and following the peak of the pandemic, one in five say they are most excited about going back to shopping in stores, even though there is still concern while doing so. Even with COVID-19 subsiding, almost half of Americans prefer purchasing online vs. in-store, with nearly eight in 10 saying it “takes the hassle out of shopping.”
Provoke Insight's research shows while people still prefer buying cleaning supplies and personal care items in person, when it comes to clothing and footwear, it's a mix of both online and in-store. Although online purchasing of groceries and alcoholic beverages experienced an uptick during the pandemic's peak, both have since seen online sales decline, but not to pre-COVID levels.
The study found e-commerce buyers more likely to be quality-conscious, and less likely to be brand-loyal or price-focused, than in-store shoppers. “These consumers are more impulse-driven,” Fink says, “[so] e-commerce sites need to be top of mind in the shopping decision process. [At the same time] advertising is critical for building in-store brand loyalty [and bringing] buyers into stores via discounts and sales.”
Back-to-school shopping is also likely to be impacted by changes in behavior with Provoke Insight's research showing nearly half of parents are shopping online. They are also more likely to keep up with trends, and to prefer sustainability-sourced items than adults without children in households. In terms of all clothing, findings show eight in 10 consumers say they are dressing more casual, wearing less jewelry or jeans in favor of more comfortable attire. “It's still unusual for people to be dressed as formal as they were prior to COVID,” Fink says. “[This] will continue as long as work is still in hybrid mode.”
Looking forward, Provoke Insight's findings suggest the continued move to e-commerce. “COVID sped up the adoption of online shopping,” Fink says. “It forced people to purchase things online that they were not used to shopping for [there], and now that they're used to it, they're OK with continuing with that process. People are returning in-store, but it's not going to be the same as it was prior to March 2020.”