A year ago, we couldn’t have imagined that toilet paper would be the hardest thing to find on store shelves, or that we’d be wearing masks in stores and making purchases behind plexiglass barriers. What 2020 has taught the retail industry — and the whole world — is that a lot can change practically overnight.
Our team at Shopkick realized early on in the pandemic that we needed to keep a pulse on consumers’ shopping behaviors and preferences at a time when they were changing at alarming rates. Since March, we’ve been surveying thousands of consumers across the country on how, where and when they’re shopping in order to keep our partners as informed as possible.
According to our recent survey of more than 14,000 Americans, consumers already have an idea about how they’ll shop in 2021. These insights can guide retailers and brands as they prepare for the year ahead.
2020 Completely Changed the Way We Shop
The impacts of the pandemic, from lockdowns to safety enforcements to financial health, have changed consumer behavior forever, according to 60 percent of those surveyed.
The phenomenon of stocking up on items like toilet paper, nonperishables and cleaning products became the new norm, and is likely here to stay for the long term. Nearly 70 percent of consumers say they plan to continue storing up on essential items in the new year, making inventory management even more critical.
In 2020, to combat massive out-of-stock issues, some brands and retailers chose to rationalize SKU assortments, some chose to limit the amount of items customers could purchase, and others turned to new kinds of technology to better monitor inventory. With most consumers planning to stay stocked up, companies must learn from last year and implement the best strategies to keep essential items available.
To showcase this need further, 38 percent of consumers said they’ll continue to care less about brand names, making product availability more important than ever. If items are consistently out of stock, brands cannot expect shoppers to remain loyal. They’ll search elsewhere for an item. Instead, other brands that are in stock will likely come out the winners, and may just become that shopper’s new go-to.
Consumers Will Still Be In-Store ... So Long as There’s Safety Precautions
While a vaccine is being distributed, consumers say they still want to see retailers taking safety precautions in 2021, especially since the majority plan to keep shopping in physical stores. According to our survey, most people say they’ll continue to purchase both essential (89 percent) and nonessential items (63 percent) in brick-and-mortar stores this year.
Although these were major adjustments in 2020, Americans expect retailers to maintain safety measures in 2021, such as offering disinfectants around the store, plexiglass barriers at checkout, employees and shoppers wearing protective face coverings, and six-feet social distancing markers. Knowing this, retailers must create 2021 plans and budgets that continue to prioritize health and safety.
Take a Stand to Win Gen Z
With the rise in national activism last year, it’s no surprise that many Americans are looking to shop with brands and retailers that take a stand on the issues that matter most to them. In fact, the majority of America’s youngest consumers (55 percent) say they’re more likely to shop more frequently with brands and retailers that align with their core values.
In order to appeal to younger shoppers, especially following a year of wavering brand loyalty, companies must evaluate their values and be prepared to share them with consumers. Brands that are consistently vocal about genuine stances on issues like sustainability or racial justice have a better chance of winning over Gen Z in 2021 than those that are not.
In conclusion, a better understanding of how 2020 has shaped a new era of consumer behavior will help guide retailers and brands to success in 2021 and beyond.
David Fisch is the general manager of Shopkick, a Trax company, and a leading shopping rewards app bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping — both online and offline. For brands and retailers, Shopkick provides high consumer engagement along the entire path to purchase.
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Dave Fisch is the General Manager of Shopkick, a Trax company, and a leading shopping rewards app, bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping - both on- and off-line. For brands and retailers, Shopkick provides high consumer engagement along the entire path to purchase. The company’s unique pay for performance model has been proven to deliver high ROI, driving incremental traffic, product engagement, and sales. Some of its leading brand and retail partners include Auntie Anne's, Barilla, Brighton, eBay, GE, Kellogg's, TJ Maxx, Unilever, among others.
Shopkick is available for free on iPhone from the App Store and for Android from Google Play. For more information, please visit www.shopkick.com.