The acceleration of consumer trends and behaviour that was already underway prior to the COVID-19 outbreak has taken another leap forward and will spark consumer-facing companies and retailers to reinvent the way they do business, according to a new PwC report.
The findings from two surveys taken before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published in PwC’s 11th consecutive Global Consumer Insights Survey focus on urban consumer purchasing habits and behaviours, and how global disruption has forced the acceleration of a more digital way of life.
The survey results reveal that the pandemic and the ensuing social distancing measures put in place have led to fundamental changes in how consumers work, eat, communicate, and take care of their health.
Consumers have adapted how they shop
Social distancing measures put in place because of the coronavirus have affected consumers in all aspects of life, including how they purchase groceries. While in-store grocery shopping is the main channel of choice, over a third of consumers (35%) are now buying food online, with 86% of those who shop online planning to continue after social distancing measures are removed.
For non-food items, prior to the pandemic in-store shopping was still dominant compared to online shopping with 47% of consumers saying they shopped at brick-and-mortar stores daily or weekly compared to shopping via mobile phones (30%), computers (28%) and smart voice assistants (15%). Since then, online shopping for non-food items has seen a substantial increase (mobile phone 45%; computer 41%; tablet 33%), the trend is especially pronounced in China and the Middle East, with 60% and 58% of respondents respectively saying they’ve started shopping more on their mobile phones.
The importance of connection, community and self-care is clear
Fifty-nine percent of millennials and 57% of those with children are placing a greater focus on their wellbeing. 51% of urban consumers agree or strongly agree that they are more focused on taking care of their mental health and wellbeing, physical health and diet as a result of COVID-19.
Urban dwellers surveyed after the outbreak, viewed safety and security at 49%, and healthcare at 45% just as important to their quality of life as employment prospects also at 45%.
Consumers and sustainability
Our research showed a clear embrace of sustainability and a sense of civic duty. For example, in survey results taken prior to the pandemic, 45% of our global respondents say they avoid the use of plastic whenever possible, 43% expect businesses to be accountable for their environmental impact, and 41% expect retailers to eliminate plastic bags and packaging for perishable items.