4 Points About Consumer Behavior Changes Spurred by COVID

December 23, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Digital | Featured | Food & Restaurants | Industries | Pharma & Healthcare | Social Media | Spending Trends | Video

McKinsey New Behaviors Since COVID 19 Dec2020Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a year of disruption for consumers and businesses – and according to new data from McKinsey, the vast majority (78%) of consumers have tried a new shopping behavior since the pandemic began. Here are 4 key highlights from these findings into developing consumer behavior.

1. Online Channels for Purchases Grow in Popularity

Since the pandemic consumers have been moving online, not just continuing to use already established channels but increasing their purchases via those that are less frequently turned to.

An example of this can be seen with the purchasing of over-the-counter medicine online. While about one-quarter (26%) of respondents bought OTC products online pre-COVID, an additional 13% expect to make such purchases online once the crisis has subsided. And, with the survey having been fielded in October, this figure could see further change after the launch of Amazon Pharmacy in November this year.

According to the survey, the number of consumers making purchases of snacks (+47%), household supplies (+45%) and personal care products (+37%) online is expected to rise as a result of the pandemic.

2. Consumers Adopt a Number of Habits for Socially Distanced Purchases

Despite already being a well-established purchase method, the drive-thru has come into its own since consumers have been encouraged to socially distance. In fact, out of a number of activities listed, picking up food from a quick-service restaurant via its drive-thru is the one that the largest share are doing more.

Other habits that consumers have turned to more since the pandemic include buying online for in-store pickup, restaurant delivery, grocery delivery and in-store self-checkout, while habits that sizable shares of respondents report having just embraced since the crisis include restaurant curbside pickup and store curbside pickup.

However, not all of these habits appear to be here to stay. Meal-kit delivery, which saw accelerated shifts in usage in August, remains a habit that respondents think “works for now,” per this latest data. Other habits such as using deal-finding plug-ins, purchasing directly from social media and purchasing pre-owned products online are “potentially here to stay.”

3. Screen Time Dominates Consumers’ At-Home Activities

With much of the US under varying stay-at-home directives throughout the year, consumers have had to replace out-of-home activities with things to do at home.

Screens have played a big part in this change. Online streaming is being used more by nearly 4 in 10 (36%), and is a new habit for 4%.

Similarly, social media is being used more by one-third (33%) of adults surveyed. TikTok, which has surged in usage among kids during the pandemic, is a habit that a full 5% of US adults say they’ve picked up since the pandemic began. The data also shows that TikTok has experienced accelerated shifts in usage between June and October. Furthermore, about two-thirds (65%) of respondents report they intend to continue using the app once the pandemic has subsided.

4. Online Fitness and Digital Exercise Are Here to Stay

Certain consumer habits tracked by McKinsey have seen both a high level of growth since COVID-19, as well as a high reported intent to use after the pandemic – these are labelled “accelerated shifts”.

Along with TikTok usage, online fitness stands out as an accelerated shift every month in data sets fielded June through October. Digital exercise machines saw similar results June through September, and though user growth plateaued in October this activity is still considered “potentially here to stay” in the latest data, with 68% showing intent to continue with this behavior post-pandemic.

Relatedly, around 10% of respondents have increased their usage of wellness apps since the pandemic, with 8 in 10 (81%) reporting an intent to continue usage in the future.

Read the full study here.


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