2020, and more importantly the impact of Covid, has brought about a substantial change in consumer behaviour. With people staying at home and taking up new hobbies, the wonderful, whimsical web became a virtual lifeline to millions of people in the UK both socially and professionally.
The impact on the online shopping world has been monumental, and according to research, online purchasing increased by up to 30% last year alone.
Whether it was for reasons of availability or simply exploring the options for best value, Covid gave consumers the space to find alternative suppliers and the traditional behaviours began to change, and it continues to do so.
Alongside this, we learnt that overall brand loyalty decreased during this period, and we no longer settled on our “go to” when it came to our regular suppliers and ways of shopping. This is fascinating given 80% of brands do not have a loyalty programme in their marketing strategy despite droves of online shoppers switching between brands.
Customers Supported Local Small Businesses
As we were both forced and invited to shop around and try new things, customer also voted with their cash to support many local small businesses. Despite the fact browsing in person in local shops wasn’t an option; research suggests that shoppers had a renewed desire to shop locally and support their own community before bigger corporate brands, such as Amazon.
OnBrand MD, Daniel Graham explains:
‘2020 saw a real customer trend with communities pulling together to support local businesses, like buying beer from a local brewery, honey from a local supplier and using the local store for smaller shops, rather than heading to large shops for a bigger monthly spend. Campaigns generating local PR and social media activity supported the #shoplocal approach and it became a key driver for shoppers to stay home and think local, to support businesses that really needed their help to survive.’
In addition to this, those businesses that could clearly identify and communicate a clear social purpose actually helped grow positive brand awareness. Companies and organisations actively being seen to help the wider community and their employees resonated with consumers and brands got noticed for their altruistic behaviour.
Assessing our Own Shopping Habits
We spoke to some of our colleagues at OnBrand to get a personal view of how their shopping behaviours have changed post-Covid.
Jo, OnBrand’s social media creator said her #shoplocal patterns totally changed. She wanted to support friends with local food businesses and instead of buying meat from a large supermarket, she supported a community-based butcher who would personally deliver a week’s worth of meat at 6am on a Sunday!
Wendy, our marketing manager, talked first hand about the shift in her online food shopping experience. Whilst she had always been loyal to one online supermarket, it became apparent that during the first couple of months of lockdown 1, the supplier’s website and fulfilment simply fell over based on the demand. Due to this, she started to shop around and look into other suppliers and ended up switching between an additional two providers. This remains the same today and supports the theme that brand loyalty has declined.
Emma, our marketing director mentioned that she made additional purchases online for kids clothing and DIY bits and bobs that previously she would have gone in store for. She used shop local click and collect for the first time; a trend that we now see has expanded from big to small businesses.
So What Does That Mean for Small Businesses in Lockdown 3?
What we know is that these trends remain the same in early 2021. Digital purchasing continues to increase amongst all age groups and it’s a key government pillar to have digital inclusion for the over 65’s. As one positive outcome, Covid has gone a long way to helping this digital transition, and in 2021 we are likely to see even more of the over 65’s becoming more comfortable with looking online . Thanks to being in lockdown, we are moving forward.
Here are our top tips for boosting sales in 2021:
- Understand what your customers wants and needs are, and how that might have changed.
- Be really clear what segment of your customer base is active online.
- Optimise your online sales journey to factor in different audiences, perhaps more FAQs or assistance during the process for a non-savvy audience.
- Plan a comprehensive social media strategy and content plan that engages your existing and new digital audience.
- Consider a brand loyalty programme to ensure customers come back again.
- Find a broader social purpose and communicate it so customers know your point of difference
For more help with business growth in 2021, visit www.onbrand.co.uk or call 03333 220022 for a friendly chat with the team.
References: Deloitte insights 2021 Global Marketing Trends, McKinsey’s UK reports, Centre for Ageing Better, October 2020 research from Dot digital