Lasting Change vs. Temporary Shifts

So much has been written about how consumer habits have changed since lockdowns began, and even more hypothesizing about what will stick post pandemic. What sticks will directly impact brands and how they continue to innovate, adapt, and drive relevancy with consumers. Here is what we know has changed for most consumers in quarantine:

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

STOCKPILING

The pandemic kicked off in the U.S. with a mad dash to stock up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. Then came canned goods, baking supplies and frozen food. Today it is meat. According to an AYTM survey, 67% of consumers reported stockpiling food, and 62% supplies.

ENDLESS COOKING & CLEANING

Grocery sales have skyrocketed, with sales jumping 26% in March alone. Bed Bath & Beyond reported a 400% year-over-year jump in sales of bread makers in April and a significant increase in the number of vacuums purchased.

Suzy asked consumers, “Since the start of Covid-19, which of the following activities have you started to do yourself (DIY)?” Cooking leads the pack, followed closely by cleaning:

And most people think they are getting to be pretty good cooks, and baristas: 75% of consumers believe they are more skilled in the kitchen, and over 50% believe they will continue to cook more once the crisis is over. A whopping 91% say they will continue to make their own coffee at home.

Snacking is also ‘all the graze’. Big food brands recently benefited from sale and stock price increases. Almost 60% of consumers say they are snacking more than usual. One person even noted, “Snacking is the new meal.”

ONLINE ALL THE TIME

It is now how our kids get educated, how many of us work, how we stay connected to family and friends, how we get our news, how we are entertained, how we visit our doctors, how we go to the gym and how we buy what we need. A few facts:

  • Zoom went from being largely unknown outside the tech world to a household name. It’s first time mobile app installations skyrocketed 728% since March. There is now even a phenomena called ‘Zoom Fatigue’ where too much Zooming is exhausting users.
  • New apps like Squad are emerging, allowing friends to video chat while screen sharing. The Bachelor Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.
  • According to recently released Comcast data the average household is watching 8 more hours of TV a week, and people are staying up later with a 40% increase in viewing during late-night hours. Likely because everyone can now sleep in. And, people are watching much more on the weekend. During COVID-19, viewing of dramas has increased 30%, news 29%, comedies 18%, reality shows 15% and action and adventure 15%.
  • Virtual gaming is at all-time highs. Epic Game’s Fortnight attracted 12M concurrent users to watch a Travis Scott concern live within the game. And purchase intent for old-school games like Nintendo, Switch, Sony Playstation and Xbox increased 5x.
  • Consumers are streaming more fitness classes held by their gym, personal trainers or social media influencers than ever before.
  • Per Suzy, 43% of parents say they are willing to pay for virtual summer experiences for their child.
  • U.S. ONLINE grocery sales grew 22% in 2019. That is expected to surge to about 40% this year, according to the Coresight Research U.S. Online Grocery Survey 2020.

DIY BEAUTY

A little over half of all consumers are conducting at-home self-care and beauty treatments. Youtube is where most people turn to learn how to cut hair, maintain beauty needs, and figure out just about everything else. Almost 40% of consumers say they won’t return to using profession beauty after the pandemic because of cost.

BELT TIGHTENING

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

While consumers spent more on food and household supplies, they drastically cut discretionary spending. 81% of consumers say they have cut back on discretionary, non-essential spending. Eating out, retail shopping and entertainment led those cuts. Not surprising with a ~15% unemployment rate, 30% of Americans say they are financial worse off today than they were a year ago, and 15% expect to be worse of in the coming year. Sixty-five percent also report making fewer cash transactions or are “going cashless” for in-person transactions.

DING DONG

About half of all consumers say they have increased the amount of home delivery services for food or other goods. Amazon, Door Dash, Grub Hub sales all reflect this boom. Uber’s food delivery service reported a 30% increase in orders since mid-March. They also shared the most popular take-out dishes by state in March, with French fries leading the pack.

SERENITY NOW

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Moms are taking up meditative hobbies, like gardening, pressing flowers and knitting. We are Knitter’s sales are up 270% in the US. One game maker saw U.S. puzzle sales soar 370% year over year over two weeks in April.

IMPROVE THY SELF

“Smart” bike sales are booming. Peloton can’t make them fast enough while Echelon, the less expensive version, reported sales were up tenfold at the end of March. Mind improvement is also underway, as many are bombarded by ads for celebrity-taught Master Classes on Facebook feeds, and schools like Harvard offer free online courses. Live streaming for both skill and fitness classes, in addition to music shows, is also booming.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

As people settle in for the long haul, realizing that life is going to be very different until a vaccine is mainstream, stores like Lowes and Home Depot see sales increases. Some of the hottest items include paint, outdoor cleaning supplies, landscaping supplies and grills. This may be tempered, however, as unemployment continues to rise and many consumers have more time to do those home projects, but less money to buy supplies.

FAMILY TIME

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

The mixed blessing of the virus has been more time with our kids. This also explains the boom in trampoline sales as Moms everywhere yell, “Go outside!”

How might these last changes directly impact your brand? Change is inevitable, but change can be good. How can your brand leverage this change? Better your product and the brand experience you offer your consumers? Let’s spark a conversation to answer a few of these quesitons.

What’s next for us? We’re excited to partner with Hogan Market Research over the next month, as we follow 10 women across the United States to see what habit changes actually stick as the country reopens and we all learn how to live alongside COVID-19. Stay tuned!

About the Authors:

Shannon Hogan, CEO | Hogan Market Research | 20+ years representing the voice of the consumer, inspiring innovation and growing brands.

Stephanie Wright, Managing Director | BrandFuel Co. | stephanie@brandfuelco.com

Marc Wendt, Partner & Founder | BrandFuel Co. | marc@brandfuelco.com

Nikole Friend, Art Director | BrandFuel Co.| nikole@brandfuelco.com

Sources:

Vogue Business, April 2020 | Suzy, “State of the Consumer,” Part IV, May 2020 | AYTM Covid-19 Pandemic Impact on Consumers, April 30-May 1 | MarketWatch.com, April 2020 | SupermarketNews | Drift.com | Washington Post | BBC | MLive | CNBC | FoxNews

Fiercely curious creators building bold brand experiences. Come say hi at www.brandfuelco.com