In its global survey for 2020, management consultancy firm Accenture found that 60% of consumers were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases since the start of the pandemic


Its likely there will be a range of consumer trends that brands need to be aware of post-Covid-19 (Credit: Shutterstock/HAKINMHAN)

Whether it’s a shift to purchasing products online due to lockdown rules or people becoming more conscious about the things they consume, the consumer has for better or worse changed the way they perceive and buy from brands during Covid.

And given the likely economic downturn and the already growing trends that the pandemic has resulted in, some of these perceptions and habits are predicted to stay in a post-Covid world.

From conscious consumption to an increase in online shopping, NS Packaging looks at five consumer trends that could impact brands post-Covid.


Five consumer trends that could impact brands post-Covid

Click and collect services to grow

Over the course of the last 12 months, the use of click-and-collect services has grown.

According to market research company eMarketer, before the pandemic, an estimated $50.66bn in sales would transact via this format in a year.

Now the eMarketer forecast that figure will be $58.52bn, a increase of 15.5% from its previous estimate.

According to Microsoft, click-and-collect searches have massively spiked as Covid-19 set in – showing a huge change in consumer behaviour that will likely stick around long after the pandemic.

Click-and-collect services typically combine both the online and the physical presence of a store, allowing consumers to check out products using the online component, then selecting items according to the physical store closest to them.

As of 2020, at least 80% of retail shops offered this service, an increase of 32% since 2019, while market researcher GlobalData says this market in the UK is forecast to reach £9.6bn ($13.1bn) in 2022 – accounting for 13.9% of online sales.

This online and brick-and-mortar partnership is attractive as deliveries are less costly and complicated, with it also giving customers a choice by allowing them to make a purchase online.


Shift to value and essentials

According to a report published by management consultancy firm McKinsey back in August 2020, around 40% of US consumers have reduced spending in general, with this reduction expected to impact non-essentials specifically.

And with overall consumer spending declining, intent to spend on brands that provide essential products – even among those with higher incomes – has grown during Covid-19.

Tied to this is an increasing consumer focus on value for essential items.

In addition to this, according to a survey published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in October, this shift has changed what people shop for online.

It also found that most respondents – especially those in China and Turkey – said they’d continue shopping online and focusing on essential products in the future.

And, given the cut back on non-essentials during the last economic crisis in 2008, it is likely this trend will continue post-Covid.


An increase in online shopping

In addition to increases in click-and-collect services, online shopping has more generally increased during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Multinational professional services company Deloitte found in a survey it conducted that 40% of respondents did more online shopping during the lockdown.

It’s a marketplace that, even before the pandemic, was growing at a rapid rate over the past few years.

According to market and consumer data provider Statista, the industry was worth $3.535bn in 2019 – a 37.79% growth compared to 2014.

In addition to this, by 2023 it’s predicted the e-commerce industry will be worth more than $6.5bn.

And, according to data analytics firm the Swiss Re Institute, the demand for online shopping appears to be sustainable long after Covid-19.

The e-commerce sector responded to the challenge of the pandemic by creating a positive online experience.

This attracted large numbers of consumers, and a survey conducted by the Swiss Re Institute found that many were likely to continue to buy online for non-health reasons such as convenience, time savings and wider product ranges.

And, although sales are unlikely to surge as it did in 2020, worldwide e-commerce sales are still approaching the $5tn mark.

Shock to loyalty

Due to continued pressure on household incomes, Mckinsey has found that a lot of consumers are trying out new brands and channels – with convenience and better value being the primary drivers.

The organisation also found that 78% of US consumers have switched stores, brands or the way they shop due to the pandemic.

In addition to this, it discovered that three out of four American consumers have tried a new shopping behaviour, and most intend to continue this even after Covid-19 subsides.

Many experts say people shifted towards private label brands from businesses such as Target, Amazon and Aldi on certain products including paper towels, cheeses and clothing.

Consumers have also been less picky about which brand of toilet paper, hand sanitiser and cleaning supplies they buy from because of the rush to products at the start of lockdowns.

A study conducted by public relations company Ketchum in July found that 62% of people who have changed their brand preference will make that a permanent change before the pandemic is over.


Customers to consume more consciously

In its global survey for 2020, management consultancy firm Accenture found that 60% of consumers were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases since the start of the pandemic.

Alongside this, research group Kantar discovered that since Covid-19, sustainability was more of a concern for consumers than before the pandemic.

In June, global executive firm DHR International published a white paper exploring conscious consumerism pre, post or in the midst of Covid-19.

Key takeaways from this included the fact that conscious, sustainable consumerism is the “true future of retail”, with sustainability being “smarter and more profitable”.

Added to this, research conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute – titled Consumer Products and Retail: How sustainability is fundamentally changing consumer preferences – found that almost 80% of consumers say they are changing their purchase preferences and behaviours based on brands and retailers social responsibility, inclusiveness or environmental impact.

The report also found that Covid-19 has increased consumer awareness and commitments to buying sustainably, with 67% saying they will be more cautious about natural resources due to the crisis.

Alongside this, 52% of consumers say they share an emotional connection with products or organisations they perceive as sustainable.

And these consumption trends are expected to continue post-Covid, with Accenture believing brands will need to make this a key part of their offer even after the pandemic.