Part I: A Breakdown of Consumer Shopping Behaviour in the Age of COVID-19

June 9, 2020

As lockdown begins to lessen — it’s clear consumer shopping behaviour has changed dramatically.

Over the past three months, many of us have embraced a new way of life, from home DIY and gardening, to attempting the Couch to 5k, or learning that hairdressing is a skill we certainly don’t possess! This shift in behaviour has led to a huge number of consumers turning to online and digital channels to source products and advice to suit their new lifestyles.

With more of us online than ever before, now’s the time for brands and retailers to invest in their online marketing and selling capabilities. With that in mind, we launched a new consumer study to discover how shoppers are adapting to this new “digital-first” world of commerce — which products they are investing in, the channels they are browsing and how they anticipate their behaviour to change in the future.

Welcome to Part I of this series where we will explore how consumers are adapting to the shift to online alongside the channels they are researching and purchasing on.

Setting the Scene: Embracing the Shift to Online

We’re spending more time, and money online. It’s a fact.

Overall 48% of respondents said they are shopping online more frequently than pre-lockdown. And not only that, they are spending more too. In fact, certain age groups have really ramped up their online activity, 63% of 26-35 year olds said they are shopping online more frequently, and this excludes grocery shopping.

Q. How much more are you spending (excluding groceries) online?

  • 45% said they are spending less than £150
  • 42% said they are spending £150 – £500
  • 13% said they are spending more than £500 (this figure rises to 17% when we look at male shoppers only)

Product Research: Where are Consumers Browsing?

We asked consumers, since the start of lockdown have you researched products on any of these channels?

Marketplaces
We discovered that Amazon and eBay have been leading the pack when it comes to product research — and this was across all age groups.

  • 78% of consumers have researched products on Amazon. Furthermore, if we’re looking at 36 – 45 year olds, this figure rises to 84%.
  • 53% of consumer said they have researched products on eBay, of our age groups, it’s 26-35 year-olds who are most likely to research products on eBay (66% vs the 53% average)
  • 51% of 26-35 year olds research products on Google shopping compared to 34% averaged across all age groups.

And it’s not just browsing, we asked respondents to confirm if they’ve spent more money on marketplaces since before COVID-19.

  • 38% have spent more on Amazon
  • 23% have spent more on eBay
  • 18% have spent more on retailer or brand websites
  • 9% have spent more on other marketplaces

What we found shouldn’t be surprising – Shopping on Amazon is embedded in consumer behaviour. In fact, only 4% of 26-35 year olds say they DON’T shop on Amazon at all. 44% of 26-35 year olds have spent more on Amazon since the start of March, and this rises to 50% for 18-25 year olds.

Social
We might be social distancing when it comes to face to face interaction, but this couldn’t be further from the case when it comes to social media. Consumers are spending more time online and that means more time spent engaging with brands and digital communities.

Unsurprisingly age was a huge factor in adoption of social browsing.

  • Facebook was most popular with those aged 36 – 45 years old, 45% of them had researched products on Facebook.
  • When it comes to Instagram, as you might guess, it’s our youngest shoppers who turned to this channel. More than 42% of 18-25 year olds researched products on Instagram compared to 22% averaged across all age groups.

We know consumers are spending more time on social media at the moment, so we wanted to ask whether they’ve been inspired during a lunchtime browse and actually made a purchase off the back of an ad or post.

22% of respondents said they have purchased a product after seeing an ad on Facebook. This rises to 38% for 26 to 35 year olds.

For Instagram the number is a bit lower, but still a considerable 17% overall. This jumps to 32% for 18-25 year olds and 35% for 26-35 year olds.

Further Reading

We hope you found these statistics and data insights helpful and interesting. We have lots more to share with you, don’t forget to checkout more in the series.

For a visual summary of the key findings, check out this infographic 5 Consumer Shopping Trends in the Age of COVID-19.

If you’d like to hear best practices and advice from our experts on how to adapt your advertising and selling strategy, listen to this on-demand webinar Consumer Shopping Trends in the Age of COVID-19 — And how brands should be reacting.

For the latest industry news on what these trends mean, head over to our news centre.

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About the survey
We surveyed 1,033 consumers alongside our partner Dynata, from across the UK, equal sampling across age to understand their shopping preferences.