Hoarding, Click and Collect and More: Surprising Covid-19 Consumer Behaviors

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As consumers adjusted to life under lockdown their shopping behavior changed dramatically alongside it. With no choice but to shop online and swerve physical stores, consumers turned to online and digital channels to source products and advice to suit their new lifestyles. Brands had to change alongside these new habits. We caught up with Shaun Brown, SVP – Managing Director and Shopper Marketing Discipline Lead at Momentum Worldwide to learn about the changes.

AW360: What were the consumer behaviors that surprised you at the beginning of global lockdown?

The speed of change that retailers and brands had to react to was unparalleled. Three behaviors stood out specifically:

  1. The speed of adoption around grocery fulfillment options like click-and-collect and delivery saw record growth instantly—growth that the retailers and third-party providers weren’t prepared to solve. That behavior has not fallen off, and our research tells us that over 50% of shoppers across the globe will maintain that behavior post-pandemic.
  2. The lack of availability of national brands drove a shift to private label or less expensive brands out of necessity. That shift may prove fatal for some established brands since 85% of shoppers told us they are mostly satisfied with the private label brands.
  3. The amount of hoarding behavior for prolonged periods of time. We see that behavior when disasters like hurricanes hit a market, but the extended hoarding for weeks and months created an operations problem for brands and retailers to keep products on shelves.

AW360: What are the 4 macro forces brands should be aware of?

  1. Continue to invest in online shopping and optimize e-commerce experience.
    1. We know that more shopping is happening online, but much of the in-store experience gets lost in the digital world. When e-commerce introduces more opportunities for discovery, sociability and bargain-hunting, it can satisfy the needs that are going unfulfilled.
  2. Reimagine traditional shopping and sales events for a COVID-19 world.
    1. Shoppers look forward to major events like Black Friday and Back-to-School for savings and will count on them more during the economic downturn. We need to identify the elements they love about these events—the excitement, the tradition, the ritual—and recreate them for our new ways of shopping.
  3. Invest in non-traditional ways of shopping.
    1. Even though shoppers will find comfort in major shopping events, they’re also taking new non-traditional routes. Leveraging platforms like Google, Honey and RetailMeNot will meet these shoppers in new spaces, helping them satisfy bargain-hunting needs in an online space.
  4. Focus on shoppers’ most basic human needs to establish trust.
    1. Private label brands pose a major threat to name brands, especially as shoppers tighten their belts and become generally satisfied with cheaper options. The pandemic startled our sensibilities and caused us to rethink what we truly value. Brands that can successfully tap into these fundamental needs will connect with shoppers beyond a simple price-quality relationship.

AW360: How much do you see these results changing over the course of the next few months, and how do you think brands should best prepare? 

This new pace of change and uncertainty may be closer to the new reality. These past months have proven that brands and retailers can act at the moment to solve new challenges. And shoppers now will continue to expect brands and retailers to behave in ways that meet their changing needs in as much real-time as possible. Brands will need to become agile in planning as well as being omni-commerce, digital-first thinkers. Planning a year out is now a thing of the past and will demand flexibility.

AW360: Some things are naturally going to stick. If you look into your crystal ball, which behaviors will remain the same? 

We see two spaces that will be impacted: how they behave at home and how they behave when shopping.

  • Consumers will have a back-to-basics mentality at home: 61% of shoppers globally plan on doing more at-home cooking—60% will be eating healthier and about the same amount have the willingness to do home projects on their own. Time at home has allowed a return to values of togetherness and self-reliance.
  • Shoppers have shifted to omnichannel shopping on a scale that will continue post-pandemic: 84% of shoppers have been shopping online, 37% of shoppers have become users of delivery services, and even after stores are back to some state of normal, only 25% of shoppers will shift back to traditional ways of shopping as their primary mode.

AW360: The report mentioned shopping “events” will be really important this year—why?

People are going to rely on the cost savings that come with holiday shopping events as most shoppers rely on the savings (78% of shoppers told us they do). However, they also embrace the feelings of normalcy that come with preparing for the holiday season—69% of shoppers look forward to these events because they’re tradition. The holidays will be able to provide the emotional feelings of togetherness that our digital world can’t satisfy.

The changes made this year will forever alter how retailers approach the holidays, moving forward. Unlike grocery, a lot of retail has been closed, and have lost opportunities they can never get back, like back-to-school shopping events.

Shaun Brown, SVP – Managing Dir & Shopper Marketing Discipline Lead.

With 20+ years in shopper marketing, Shaun leads Momentum shopper marketing teams focusing on big data and strategy, national brands, key retailers, shopper media, ecommerce and innovation.  He has been with Momentum for over 12 years starting by leading Coca-Cola’s global business and then taking on more responsibility throughout the agency.  Prior to being at Momentum he worked both client and agency-side for some of the biggest brands in the world.  Shaun has led the development of shopper teams and shopper projects for the likes of Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Chobani, MillerCoors, Mondelez, Constellation Brands, Georgia Pacific, McCormick, Diageo, and J&J.

Outside of work you can find Shaun woodworking on a project in his workshop, spending as much time as possible outdoors enjoying the water on a lake, river, or the coast, and more often than not at a sporting event supporting his three athletic daughters.

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