Covid-19 will drive fast change in consumer behaviour, says Accenture study
Covid-19 “is likely to alter consumer behaviours permanently and cause lasting structural changes to the consumer goods and retail industries”. That’s according to findings of an Accenture survey of more than 3,000 consumers in 15 countries across five continents.
It spoke to consumers in Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the UAE, UK and US in early April.
And it found that “consumers have already begun shifting their purchasing priorities”. For instance, overall they said they were buying more personal hygiene and cleaning products, as well as canned and fresh foods than they had been two weeks prior. But they were buying purchasing fewer fashion, beauty and consumer electronics items.
That may been a reaction to short-term needs as panic-buying was a feature in many markets just a few weeks ago.
But Accenture said that “more importantly, the findings indicate that many of the changes in consumer behaviour are likely to continue long after the pandemic. In addition, the crisis is also causing consumers to more seriously consider the health and environmental impacts of their shopping choices”.
It found that 60% of respondents are spending more time on self-care and mental well-being. And 64% said they’re focusing more on limiting food waste and will likely continue to do so after the crisis eases.
Exactly half are “shopping more health-consciously and will likely to continue to do so”, and 45% said they’re making more sustainable choices when shopping, behaviour that should carry on as well.
“The scale of the changes identified in our findings clearly suggest that this is a long-term shift,” said Oliver Wright, managing director and head of Accenture’s global Consumer Goods practice. “While we have been seeing these trends for some time, what’s surprising is the scale and pace — compressing into a matter of weeks changes that would likely have taken years.”
Also important is that the survey found the pandemic is causing more people to shop online. It said that 32% of consumers’ current purchases of all products and services have been online by necessity, but that figure is expected to rise to 37% going forward.
“The realignment of purchasing priorities, personal lifestyles, and working practices is mandating significant changes to retail and commerce,” said Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s global Retail practice.
The shift is very noticeable in the area of groceries as this was one segment that had a lower rate of online penetration than other consumer goods. But the pandemic has forced people to overcome that reluctance and this should have a much wider impact on e-shopping generally.
It’s interesting as well that Covid-19 is accelerating digital adoption more broadly. For instance, the number of consumers likely to buy or increase their tech use has “increased dramatically.” More than half of respondents are likely to increase their use of voice-enabled digital assistants, online recommendation apps, self-service apps, intelligent home devices and wearables.
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