New Consumer Insights: Even Virtual Gym and Delivery Subscriptions Not Immune to COVID-19 Effects
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has thrown every sector of retail into disarray, and businesses are struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Not only are consumer behaviors fundamentally shifting in light of the pandemic, but they're also prompting retailers to consider how their brand aligns to customer expectations, and how to translate this insight into action during this unusual time. For each brand, today’s path to relevance and resonance is different, depending on the values that drive its customers’ decision making.
To help elucidate current consumer attitudes and behavior shifts in response to the pandemic, Resonate launched a 100-plus question survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers that provides new insights into how the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is fundamentally changing the buying habits of American consumers. Some of the findings were surprising, to say the least.
That said, certain immediate effects of COVID-19 on basic retail behaviors were predictable. For example, as a result of social distancing guidelines, more people are staying away from physical retail and restaurants. Forty-three percent of people say there's a decreased likelihood that they’ll visit a grocery store or pharmacy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, we also see evidence that many consumers still aren’t taking social distancing seriously. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of people say they’ve left their home one to three times in the past week to visit a store, restaurant or other retail establishment. Another 18 percent have done so four or more times, with only 17 percent saying they haven't left home for those reasons at all.
Regardless of continued in-person shopping outings, 55 percent say they’re more likely to purchase products online in the next 90 days, and 41 percent are more likely to purchase groceries online. Likewise, 34 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to order food for takeout or delivery. The trend toward delivery also undeniably favors Amazon.com, with 44 percent of consumers saying they’ll increase their purchasing from the retailer.
As might be expected, many consumers say there’s a decreased likelihood in the next 90 days that they will purchase a luxury product, like fine jewelry or designer clothes (54 percent), or make a major purchase like an automobile (53 percent).
What was perhaps most surprising coming out of this survey were consumer plans regarding memberships and subscriptions. With regard to gym memberships, 39 percent of people are less likely to start a gym membership in the next 90 days, and 26 percent are more likely to cancel an existing gym membership. While that might not be a shock given current gym closures due to the pandemic, we found that virtual gym memberships are in a similar position, with 21 percent of virtual gym members saying they’re likely to cancel their memberships.
In addition, only 10 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to start a subscription to a service such as a meal delivery kit in the next 90 days, and 21 percent are more likely to cancel an existing subscription service. This seems to indicate that consumers overall financial fears are overwhelming their desire for even the services that translate well to a life in quarantine.
And indeed, our survey revealed that financial fears are running high among consumers, and that’s having an effect on spending. About 90 percent of people fear a U.S. economic recession, while 61 percent fear personally suffering an economic loss. Likewise, about 26 percent fear losing their job. As a result of these fears, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of consumers say they’ve decreased their overall spending as a result of the COVID-19 situation. As long as this reality persists among consumers, even what might seem like “pandemic friendly” retail categories will remain vulnerable.
Learn more about Resonate’s Coronavirus Flash study and download the free report here.
Ericka Podesta McCoy is chief marketing officer of Resonate, a consumer intelligence platform that helps build strong relationships between people and brands and agencies.