A new study from marketing agency Acosta details ways retailers can meet the needs of the new mentally and financially stressed American consumer.
Acosta's eighth round of COVID-19 research, gathered via online surveys conducted between June 12 and 17, shows that the pandemic is taking a mental and financial toll on consumer behavior.
"As the pandemic stretches on, we see the toll it has taken on shoppers financially. Millennials have been hit the hardest, with 43% of shoppers worse off than they were before the outbreak," said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. "A recession is here and will significantly impact the shopping habits of those affected. Low prices and promotions will be among the most important priorities for consumers post-COVID-19, though product availability remains their top concern."
According to the study, shoppers are far more cautious than optimistic about the future, with 64% looking ahead with caution and only 24% looking ahead with optimism.
The recession is adding stress for many shoppers, with 37% worse off financially than they were pre-pandemic — including nine percent who are much worse off.
Millennials are the hardest hit generation, with 43% worse off.
Many shoppers have found time for more relaxation (53%) and more sleep (40%) during the pandemic.
Fitness and nutrition have posed more of a challenge, with 37% of shoppers exercising less and 33% eating less healthy than before.
Thirty-two percent of shoppers reported consuming more vitamins and supplements, while 21% are eating more natural, organic or vegetarian foods.
Shoppers reported product availability (53%), social distancing (48%), low prices (45%), customer safety (43%) and availability of promotions/deals (29%) will be their top priorities post-pandemic.
As for how retailers can meet these new shopper needs, Acosta recommends:
- With product availability proving to be an ongoing issue, supply chain and SKU rationalization must be a priority for retailers.
- Shopper focus on health, wellness and safety is more important than ever, so any opportunities to merchandise for those needs will be welcome by shoppers.
- And the shopping experience has been interrupted, and shoppers will welcome opportunities that make them feel "back to normal."