3 Consumer Behavior Trends to Watch in 2021

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Consumers have had to deal with a rapidly-changing world in the past year, and their attitudes and habits have changed accordingly. To put quantifiable data to these changes, we issued our State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report, in which we asked consumers how COVID-19 has molded their views regarding in-location retail.

The 1,000 consumers who we surveyed provide insights into whether they see brick and mortar retail as viable despite concerns about the coronavirus (they do), what it takes for retailers to win their business in 2021, and what most compels them to choose one retailer over another.

Some of the insights provided by the report may shape the way that you cater to in-store customers in 2021.

Now is the time to build customer loyalty by providing a genuine experience

Customers are looking for shelter in the form of a communal, carefree experience. Something as routine as shopping for groceries can be a much-needed reminder that all is not wrong in the world. It can be a welcomed semblance of normalcy in a time where the abnormal has become the standard.

There is a good reason why 46% of respondents prefer brick and mortar retail over shopping online. 33% of this subset most value the ability to see and touch products in-person, while 26% of them prefer in-location retail because of “the overall experience that a physical location provides”.

The status quo for millions of consumers is now their place of living. It’s their home office, their couch, and the general lack of excitement that their home or apartment provides. Perhaps more than ever, a trip to the store has become an experience, a welcomed break from the status quo.

Retailers can gain loyal customers by providing a comprehensively positive in-location experience. 90% of respondents said that they are likely to return to your store if you provide a positive experience—what is a more telling measure of consumer loyalty than where they spend their hard-earned money?

Consumers want high-value products in ready supply

There are plenty of plausible reasons to be short on certain products. Supply lines have been challenged in unprecedented ways thanks to COVID-19, and certain circumstances are truly beyond your control as a retailer.

That being said, 33.1% of respondents said that product availability and variety most determines whether they have a positive experience at a retail location. Having what customers are looking for represents one of the clearest advantages of brick and mortar versus online shopping—leaving the store with product in hand is still more gratifying than the fastest of shipping methods.

As someone who oversees the in-store customer experience, product availability may be beyond your control. However, you can direct customers to products and advertise special offers using digital signage. Your mission may be to ensure that no customer leaves your store because finding a product was too overwhelming or confusing, and cleverly-deployed digital signage can help you achieve this mission.

Having products and substitute products readily available to the customer is only half of what the consumer 2021 desires. Our findings suggest that customers are as concerned with value as they’ve ever been. With COVID-19 causing widespread job loss and ongoing economic uncertainty, this may not surprise you.

32.7% of respondents to our State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report listed price as the foremost consideration when choosing a retailer. In this instance, “price” may best translate to “value”.

Your in-store strategy may therefore shift to highlighting discounts, two-for-one-deals, and high-value items. Though every brand is different, now may not be the time to put luxury items front-and-center within your store. You can use digital signage to advertise the latest in-store offers at no additional cost to your business.

Customers want to know your safety protocols

As a retailer, you want to provide shoppers something of an escape from the doom and gloom that is more than abundant today. With that said, COVID-19 is firmly implanted in the psyche of the typical American consumer. You can emphasize that your business is a safe environment without compromising the customer’s desire for a positive experience.

For many customers, reading well-designed messages about how your business is helping keep shoppers distanced or how your employees are sterilizing shopping carts after each use can be comforting. The reassurance may be precisely what the customer needs to quiet doubt about their safety and return to your business again, worry-free.

We know that COVID-19 remains a consideration for consumers. 40.3% of respondents said they have visited brick and mortar locations less frequently in the past year for some reason related to COVID-19. Such reasons undoubtedly include fear that a business is not implementing adequate measures to protect their health.

Though we know that a large contingent of consumers value the brick and mortar experience, they also value their health. Using digital signs to subtly communicate your in-store safety protocols without breaking the customer’s sense of escapism means catering to those concerned about their health while also considering those looking to escape COVID-19 for an hour or six.

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