Changes in shopping behavior occurred for a variety of reasons and a variety of ways during COVID-19. We explore them in our new white paper “What Has COVID-19 Taught Us About Consumer Behavior?” Some of the shopping changes we found were due to product availability, while other changes in behavior were a direct response to the spread of the virus and the recommendations of the governments to stay at home.
COVID-19 & Consumer Purchasing Patterns
We collected the insights shared in our white paper from our proprietary community of trend-setting, forward-thinking shoppers called Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE). This group reported that they initially stocked up on items like meat, eggs and bread. With more meals being prepared in the home, consumers were using an unexpectedly large amount of the “staple” foods. Our study participants, usually buying healthier and cleaner products, reported repeatedly buying salty snacks and sweets, but understandable due to the fact that the entire family is stuck at home and fewer store trips.
Product Availability Impact on Shopping
For a period of time, it seemed like the shelves of stores were void of almost everything that people use regularly—and this led to a marked change in reported shopping behaviors. People had the urge to buy products that seemed most useful not only in combating the virus but also in allowing them to remain comfortably, and indefinitely, at home.
Paper products were some of the hardest items to find last year, such as toilet paper. Consumers dealt with it by finding alternative products or alternative outlets to find paper products. Also, our Clean Label Enthusiasts usually buy lots of fresh organic produce, but over the last year turned toward canned and frozen fruits and vegetables during this time.
Shifting Shopping Methods
Prior to COVID-19, 86% of our CLE study participants answered that shopping in a store was their primary method of buying items. It didn’t take long to see a significant shift toward shopping online during the events of 2020—participants said that they had moved to online options (either with delivery or pick-up at the store) as the primary shopping method. Even within those that shopped online, there was a shift toward ordering online and picking up at the store. For more details on the impact on shopping, check out our new white paper.