Despite COVID-19 induced lockdown restrictions now being lifted in many parts of the world, the extended time spent confined to the home has had a significant impact on consumers’ shopping habits and their interactions with brands, according to research released by Adobe.
The survey was released following Adobe Experience Makers Live, a virtual event to help brands adapt to the digital world. Aside from Adobe leaders, the event saw brands such Vistara, Tata CLiQ and Asian Paints share insights and learnings for continued customer engagement and recovery.
Nitin Singhal, India Head, Digital Experience Business, Adobe said, “As consumer behaviour and preferences shift in the current environment, it has become critical for brands to reorient their customer engagement and communication strategies. With digital emerging as a primary channel for conducting business, it will be imperative for organisations to invest in Customer Experience Management (CXM) and develop agile online engagement models which are adaptable to the evolving market situation and the resulting consumer concerns — to unlock lasting success”.
“Companies have to work in a smarter way, they need to make sure that their customer experiences – whether digital, mobile, website, etc., are fine-tuned to an extent that the customer does not need to reach out to someone else. Vistara is reviewing its direct channels – discussing with our service providers including Adobe to understand the best way to re-orient this. All these small steps go towards creating the overall experience and trust.,” said Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara.
Consumer priorities and concerns during lockdown
COVID-19 has impacted consumers’ everyday lives and habits. More than three-fifths of consumers (67%) expressed concern about the overall impact of the pandemic. Chief amongst these concerns were personal health (73%), job vulnerability (40%) and the economy (36%).
Nearly all consumers (94%) cited at least one positive aspect of being at home, with family time (49%) being reported most frequently. The same number cited at least one negative aspect wherein isolation (26%), and work- life balance (24%) were most common.
While almost all consumers (95%) surveyed are willing to wait out the continued restrictions, only 61% agree with the continued lockdown measures, signalling an eagerness to resume life per normal.
The rise of socially and ethically conscious consumers
The survey found a growing social consciousness reflected in the importance consumers placed on staff treatment (77%). Despite this, brands have some way to go – only slightly over half (54%) of consumers agree that brands are doing enough to ensure staff wellbeing.
While Chinese (72%) and Indian (54%) consumers agree on brands doing enough ethically, consumers in Australia and Singapore expressed a more neutral opinion. Nearly three in four consumers (73%) found it important for brands to mirror the state of the world in their marketing collaterals in response to COVID-19. Indian (83%) and Chinese (80%) consumers were more likely to agree with this sentiment.
Evolving shopping behaviour and preferences
During the lockdown, 58% of consumers increased their online shopping frequency while three quarters (74%) cited an intention to change their future shopping habits – with Indian and Singaporean consumers reporting the strongest intention.
With respect to categories, consumers reported an increase in purchase frequency for groceries (36% buying more) and media (26% buying more) while clothing (65% not buying or buying less) and home improvements (60% not buying or buying less) faced the steepest decline. Despite COVID-19, close to three quarters of consumers surveyed opted to purchase groceries (70%), health/ beauty products (54%), and home improvements (52%) in-person, relying on home delivery for products such as food (61%) and books (55%).
Local business finds support
Local retail has amassed support from consumers during COVID-19 with 60% preferring to engage with small businesses and online retailers over national retailers, and 75% saying that they support small businesses in their respective capacities. Among all countries surveyed, Indian consumers (88%) were the most likely to support small businesses.
Sending the right message at the right time
Two-thirds of consumers agree that brands are communicating just the right amount, while interestingly, nearly one in five (16%) believe that brands are not communicating enough. Over half (55%) of the consumers suggested they find utility in brand-related COVID-19 updates, with 69% requesting said updates in the near future. Indian (73%) and Chinese (67%) consumers were most likely to find these updates useful.
“It is good to note that brand sentiment has remained relatively positive even with COVID-19 relaying the rules of engagement. Moving ahead, it will be essential for businesses to continue communicating their brand utility with empathy to build consumer trust and dependability in the long run.”, added Nitin.