New buying patterns to emerge after Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it and introduced a ‘new normal’, where restrictions and lockdown measures have replaced a lifestyle we took for granted.

As we are slowly coming out of our shells and businesses such as restaurants, cafes and stores are opening up again, how and where will consumers spend their money?

GfK recently conducted the Consumer Pulse study to help businesses move forward covering areas such as spending habits, media and product consumption, and travel and mobility trends.

“As the country enters the recovery phase, there is cautious optimism that once Australians return to work and stay-at-home restrictions are eased, more regular shopping habits will resume,” says Rob Highett-Smith, general manager consumer research, innovation and partnerships, GfK.

“It is likely consumers will be more prudent and less disposed to spending in some categories for another six to 12 months as a vaccine is being developed.”

Indeed, the report’s findings show that 84 per cent of Australians were highly concerned about the potential economic crisis, followed by unemployment (80 per cent), and Covid-19 (79 per cent). In fact, most Australians believe things will only get worse and many have significantly reduced their shopping.

So what does this mean for retail? Well, shopping behaviour has been significantly disrupted since the pandemic started, presenting both threats and opportunities for businesses. More than one in four (28 per cent) respondents has experienced a stock shortage, and over a fifth (22 per cent) of them bought brands that they usually would not. This shift will have changed the marketing and selling challenge for a number of brands from one of gaining trial to one of building loyalty.

Based on GfK Point of Sales tracking in Australia, categories such as household appliances and electronics surged in demand as many Australians were required to work from home. Compared to the same period a year ago, sales of bread makers (647 per cent), monitors (268%), and keyboards (113 per cent) grew tremendously. On the other hand, smartphone (44 per cent) and camera segments (60 per cent) experienced a decline in sales.

“As the daily life of Australians changes yet again over the next few months and access to a wider range of purchase channels opens, we anticipate that some deferred demand will become purchases,” adds Highett-Smith.

“As we move into this next important ‘recovery’ phase, several different scenarios are possible depending on our success in opening up the economy while continuing to supress the spread of Covid-19.

“In this context, understanding how consumer needs and attitudes might evolve in the short and medium terms will be fund fundamental to driving business growth and unlocking potential innovation opportunities.”