Technological advances are creating unprecedented change across consumer-facing industries. The Digital Consumer Survey, fielded in March and April, offers insight into the pace and depth of this evolution, tracking consumer behaviour, attitudes, motivations and consumption across topics including customer experience, delivery, device ownership and activities, digital wallets and payments, emerging technologies, loyalty, path to purchase, privacy and security, and social media in 20 countries.
When it comes to the research stage of the path to purchase, apparel and personal accessories is the top category that connected consumers say they research in store, followed closely by food and beverages. Almost half of connected consumers globally report doing so, which is driven by the desire to see or try before buying, a top motivation for shopping in store.
Two of the top areas for researching online are travel, and consumer electronics and appliances, which broadly speaking are often categories that shift first to digital in markets, as e-commerce starts to take off.
Travel is often one of the first areas to go digital because it is easier to research a destination, hotel or flight on a device than at an outlet or via a phone call. Consumer electronics is often among the first product categories to shift towards digital because these products appeal to the most digitally savvy, who are the first to go online and are also the same subset of the population who show a willingness to use the internet for a variety of activities, including commerce.
When it comes to the purchase stage, food and beverages is the top category that connected consumers say they purchase in store, followed closely by household essentials. Although this survey was fielded in March and April, when many parts of the world were in lockdown due to fears of Coronavirus (COVID-19), 65% of connected consumers reported making such purchases in store, compared with only 31% on their phones.
Grocery stores were thrust into overdrive during these lockdowns globally, as they sought to feed homebound consumers. As an example of what unfolded in China, French retailer Carrefour reported that vegetable deliveries increased by 600% year-on-year during the Lunar New Year period in February, whilst Chinese online retailer JD.com reported that its online grocery sales grew by 215% year-on-year during a 10-day period between late January and February. While consumers may still frequent grocery stores as lockdowns are lifted and some resume with old habits, a portion of overall grocery spend is likely to shift from physical to digital channels on a permanent basis even after a vaccine is found.
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