[Study] Post-Covid: Consumer Buying Behaviors Are Evolving
Accenture publishes a global study on the evolution of consumer preferences and behaviors following the pandemic. It shows that consumers' buying motivations have shifted away from the traditional criteria of price and quality.
Today, a majority of consumers - across geographies and demographics - are redefining their values and relying on criteria other than price and quality to make purchasing decisions, according to a new Accenture report. Based on a survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 22 countries, it aims to understand how companies can leverage changing consumer expectations to achieve new levels of growth and competitive nimbleness.
50% of those surveyed are recovering from the pandemic having reconsidered their behaviors and values as consumers. They have re-evaluated what is important to them in life and are increasingly focused on their personal purpose. This has a direct impact on what they buy, how and why. In addition, 33% of consumers surveyed have seen their values and buying mindset evolve. Interestingly, the unprecedented experience of the pandemic had no impact on the purchasing values of 17% of those surveyed.
This study analyzes over 80 individual criteria across 14 industries. It concludes that 5 distinct criteria have an increasing influence on consumers' purchasing decisions.
These 5 criteria that now outweigh price and quality are: health and safety, service and personal support, ease and comfort, product origin, and trust and reputation.
More striking perhaps: these 5 factors, which used to hold importance for specific demographics - Generation Z and millennials - have now reached a tipping point and are considered essential for all consumer demographics.
Post-pandemic, 3 consumer categories have been identified:
"Reinvented" consumers, who have re-evaluated their existential priorities to focus on the issues they care about (which directly impacts the products they buy, the way they buy them and the motivations for those purchases).
"Evolving" consumers, who describe an evolution in their values and buying habits.
"Traditional" consumers, for whom the criteria for purchasing remain unchanged.
Health and safety: of paramount importance
For "reinvented" consumers, health and safety are of significant importance: 71% (vs. 66% in France) of them believe it is vital that companies prioritize health considerations in all their activities, both for their consumers and their employees.
71% (vs. 82% in France) of "reinvented" consumers believe that companies/brands have as much responsibility as governments for the health of society. Two-thirds (68%) of "reinvented" consumers would change tour operators if they suspected a lack of health and safety.
Customer service and personal support at the top of concerns
More than half of "reinvented" consumers report that they would switch brands if the brand did not provide clear and simple options for contacting customer service, or did not provide clear answers about its service levels on economic/social or pandemic-related issues.
In addition, 50% (40% in France) of "reinvented" consumers say they have been disappointed by many companies, which they criticize for insufficient support and lack of understanding of their needs during this difficult period.
Ease and convenience are key issues
A substantial majority of "reinvented" consumers (57%) would switch brands if they "didn't offer a new fast and flexible delivery option, such as click and collect or drive". In the healthcare sector, "reinvented" consumers also appreciate the convenience of virtual medical appointments: 51% of them say they would change healthcare professionals if they did not accept virtual appointments instead of a physical visit, when the context lends itself to it.
The origin of products is becoming increasingly important
"Reinvented" consumers want to know what a product is made of, how it was manufactured and how long it was transported. 76% (74% in France) of them say they are attracted by brands that apply strict ethical rules in the choice of services and materials they use. In addition, 65% (62% in France) of "reinvented" consumers prefer to buy from companies that respect the environment.
Trust and reputation influence purchasing decisions
Across a wide range of sectors, a majority of "reinvented" consumers said they would switch providers if they "did not take visible steps toward positive social impact - for example, regarding inclusion and diversity, environmental protection or public health protection." For example, in the travel and life insurance industries, demonstrating "strong ethical values" is the first or second most important motivator or loyalty factor for "reinvented" consumers.