The New Reality of Retail

As we approach the holiday season, businesses are trying to better understand consumer buying decisions. This year has brought a lot of uncertainty and the landscape of consumer behavior has changed in response to the situation in 2020. The retail sector this year alone has encountered challenges from tariffs, an approaching recession, government-mandated closures, supply chain issues, to a growing shift of reliance on e-commerce or retail delivery due partially to the pandemic. If you include the fact that the largest growing group of consumers is Generation Z and their preference for e-commerce, in addition to socially conscious shopping, the retail industry has really needed to be agile this year.

We believe that the key to better understanding consumer behavior is to recognize that consumers are people. To many economists, consumers are just data points on spreadsheets and analytic reports. While data can be an important tool, understanding the why behind the data can help businesses and individuals make better decisions this season. At Coeus Creative Group, people and their behavior are our specialties. We use several behavioral science areas such as psychology, neuroscience, emotions, cultural and social factors, and others to help understand and predict how consumers behave.

6 Consumer behaviors to be aware of and strategies to take:

  1. Purpose-Driven Shoppers

Research shows that people are increasingly using their buying power for the greater good. This is partly being driven by Millennial and Generation Z shoppers, who prefer socially conscious shopping. Businesses can stand out by drawing attention to things such as minority-owned, women-led, cause-focused, or charitable giving initiatives. Now is the time to showcase the meaningful products that you sell; feature items that are made from recycled products, sustainably sourced materials, organically made, or simply one of a kind locally made items.

  1. Early Shopping

Typically, people wait for Thanksgiving to put up their holiday decorations. This year, we are seeing people exhibiting this behavior immediately following Halloween. Most likely, people are going to actively engage in holiday purchasing in the same fashion. The pandemic is causing shoppers to rethink traditions and regular shopping plans. Many people are planning to start their holiday shopping early to avoid the big crowds. Budgets are tight everywhere right now, so consumers are becoming more competitive shoppers resulting in 87% of consumers comparing product prices across various sellers.

  1. Available Near Me

Global searches for “available near me” grow more than 100% each year. Most people are doing their product research online in advance before even stepping foot into a store. While consumers might do their product research at big box store websites, they likely support their local business when purchasing. Make sure your product listings and inventories are up to date on your website. This will allow the item customers they are seeking to come up in an “available near me” search, leading them to your site. Given the continuing uncertainty, have processes in place for easy online ordering, pick up in-store, or car-side delivery; make your customers feel safe and secure if they choose to shop with you.

  1. Virtual Storefront

As we talked about above, people are taking the time to do their research. In fact, more than 50% of shoppers research products before buying them, meaning details matter. It is critical to have your products listed on your virtual storefront with solid descriptions, while also focusing on their attributes, options, and listing any kind of promotions. Consumers want to make sure that they know as much as possible about the products before purchasing them and will be attracted to those with the most information available.

  1. Something New or Different

Influencers exist for a reason, as social proof is becoming stronger and stronger. Consumers do not want to buy products just to later find out it is junk. They know websites are only going to say good things about their products or services, so they are looking to see what other consumers are saying. This doesn’t just apply to e-commerce, as 67% of shoppers look up product information and reviews while shopping in-store. Strong product ratings and authentic reviews will positively impact the buyer’s choice.

  1. Digital Newbies

The pandemic this year has caused a massive shift in consumer behavior, forcing many people to start moving to online shopping. These new consumers have been “stuck at home” for nearly nine months now with limited ability to do traditional browsing in physical stores. They are looking to make their homes more unique, as thousands of people are ordered to work and go to school from home. Now is the time to promote your products that are perfect to spruce up the home office or unique items for stress relief, relaxation, and comfort.

It’s important to keep in mind that consumers this holiday season are managing more personal stress, financial strain, and anxiety about future uncertainties than usual. They want smooth processes, friendly and helpful service, and to know that in-person facilities are safe. Much like most people’s usual holiday traditions and plans have changed, so have their buying habits.

If retail sector holiday planning (or shopping) has you stressed out, consider listening to our guided meditation here to help you relax and center yourself.

*All stats are from the 2020 Consumer Buying Behavior Report and the 2020 Shopping Research Study by Google*