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Dive Brief:

  • The coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting effect on shopping behaviors after pushing consumers to experiment more in their brand choices and methods of purchase. More than a third (39%) of respondents worldwide said they had bought from a new brand during quarantine, per survey results that Bazaarvoice revealed in a press release.
  • Younger consumers tended to be more willing to experiment, with 55% of people ages 18 to 24 buying a previously unknown brand, compared with only 27% of people ages 55 to 64 who said the same thing.
  • Over 80% of consumers who bought a new brand said they would keep buying those products, an early indication that they had formed longer-lasting loyalties. Another 72% of survey respondents said they were likely to shop at independent stores either locally or online instead of a bigger retailer. Bazaarvoice commissioned researcher Savanta to survey more than 8,000 consumers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

Dive Insight:

Bazaarvoice's findings indicate that brands have an opportunity to acquire new consumers who have become more adventurous out of necessity during the pandemic. With many parts of the world reporting product shortages as worried consumers stocked up their pantries with necessities, shoppers were more willing to try new brands and look online for items they couldn't find in stores. As some consumers stick with products they may not have considered before the pandemic disrupted established behaviors, the shift in shopping habits is having a longer-term effect on marketplace dynamics, the findings suggest.

The global trends uncovered by Bazaarvoice's survey also are applicable to the U.S., where about half (51%) of consumers either bought a brand that was different than what they purchased before, or bought a brand they had never heard of previously. Younger consumers also tended to be more willing to experiment, with seven out of 10 people ages 35 to 44 testing new products, compared with only 32% of people over the age of 65. Bazaarvoice's survey results help to confirm other research about the change in spending habits, including a study by consulting firm McKinsey that found 75% of U.S. consumers had changed their shopping behaviors because of economic pressures, store closings or changed priorities, and 36% had tried a new brand. Among those people who tried new brands, 73% planned to include them in their shopping, per McKinsey.

With many "nonessential" stores closed during the early days of pandemic lockdowns, U.S. shoppers found alternative ways to buy products that included e-commerce sites and signing up for subscription services. About a quarter of U.S. consumers relied on a subscription service during the health crisis, and 85% said they will continue to pay for that subscription after lockdowns end. The most common reasons to maintain a subscription service included confidence in product quality (48%), ease (48%) and regular and reliable delivery (38%), Bazaarvoice said in its press release.

Digital marketing channels including social media are more effective than TV at reaching millennial and Generation Z consumers. More than a third (40%) of Gen Zers and 42% of millennials said they connected with a brand's app during lockdown, and 66% used mobile self-checkout in physical stores. About half (51%) of millennials said they'll continue to look for product recommendations from social networks, primarily through Facebook, and 48% will continue to watch unboxing and shopping haul videos from influencers.