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  • NETMEDIA International

What does the state of mind of French, Chinese, American and English consumers look like?

Mood Media, a global specialist in sales outlet customer experience, wanted to understand the state of mind of shoppers by means of a study carried out in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and France. 80% of the consumers questioned were reassured by the measures implemented in stores.

With the easing of health and lockdown measures worldwide, just under three quarters of global consumers (71%) say they are confident about returning to stores, according to a study published by Mood Media, a global specialist in multimedia solutions dedicated to improving the customer experience in stores. By studying consumer buying behavior since the beginning of the pandemic in four major markets - the UK, the US, China and France - this new study "Shoppers' Mindset, Mood Global September 2020 Survey" conducted by the Censuswide Institute, which surveyed more than 8,000 consumers, provides key insights into how shoppers have changed their in-store buying patterns and are developing new buying models in the post-lockdown environment. Indeed, behaviors have significantly changed, with the majority of respondents (31%) spending less money and less time shopping in stores than before the pandemic, 21% spending the same budget but less time than before and only 3% spending more money and more time than before the pandemic.

The French, shoppers who are less affected by the crisis

The study also reveals that although nearly half (49%) of the world's consumers think they could be contaminated by Covid-19 in-store, 80% feel comfortable with the new health measures put in place. Wearing masks widely by both customers and salespeople was cited as the most important measure to create a sense of security for shoppers. Among the countries surveyed, American shoppers stand out as the most worried about catching the Covid-19 in store (60%) while French consumers seem the least worried (39%).

French consumers are the least impacted consumers. Three-quarters of French shoppers (77%) are thus confident in the health measures put in place, and more than a third (35%) are even very confident compared to 30% for the average of the countries surveyed. For French consumers, wearing masks for both customers and staff is the most important measure to ensure their safety.

77% of French consumers are once again visiting "non-essential" stores, a performance that ranks them directly behind the Chinese (81%) and far ahead of American (60%) or English (50%) consumers. Moreover, they are less inclined to go online than Anglo-Saxon consumers, with only a third of respondents turning to e-commerce.

Their purchasing habits have also changed. French consumers spend less after the lockdown and in a higher proportion than in other countries: 36% of shoppers spend less and 51% spend the same amount. With only 13% of consumers compensating for the lock down by spending more, the French find themselves at the bottom of the pack, below the average of 22% of consumers surveyed spending more worldwide. Similarly, the time spent in stores has been greatly reduced, with 63% of French shoppers spending less time in stores compared to 30% who spend the same amount of time as before. If this score remains consistent it is well below the other countries studied, so more than 70% of American, Chinese or English consumers spend less time, and less than 20% the same time as before the pandemic.

Positive mindset about a " return to normal "?

Only 21% of French shoppers expect their purchasing habits to "return to normal" by the end of 2020, while 23% do not expect their purchasing habits to fully recover before the summer of 2021. In addition, 15% expect that it will take until the end of 2021 before their purchasing standards can be restored.

From a broader perspective, despite the high percentage (67%) of global consumers reporting that they have already returned to "non-core" businesses, the disparity in return rates, consumption patterns and optimism about a return to normal in markets and other demographics is dramatic. Additional themes and associated highlights in this regard are as follows.

Reasons for returning to "non-core" businesses vary by demographics. It is clear from the research data that countries where the lockdown measures were relaxed earlier, such as China and France, have higher rates of return to "non-essential" businesses (81% and 77% respectively). Where the lockdown is still in place, consumers are more skeptical, with only half of British (50%) and 60% of American consumers having returned to "non-essential" stores. Among global consumers who have not returned, women express more apprehension than men (41% vs. 34% respectively). Confidence in going back to the store also decreases slightly but steadily across age groups, with the youngest respondents being the most comfortable (77% of 16-24 year olds) and the oldest the least comfortable (64% of those 55 and older).

Key factors explaining the reasons for not returning to "non-essential" businesses. Economic reasons resulting from the pandemic: the situation is cited by 20% of consumers worldwide as a reason for not returning to "non-essential" stores, with Generation Y being the most affected (27%) followed by the younger generation aged 16-24 (25%). France and the United States, with 24% and 22% respectively, were the strongest advocates of this economic argument, with this reason of " scarcity of means " being the most cited. Other key factors cited by respondents from around the world to explain why they did not return to "non-essential" stores included being "too nervous to visit non-essential stores" (at 38%), "doing all my shopping online" (at 38%) and "someone does my shopping for me". ( 13%).

In-store habits have evolved

Of those who are comfortable about running errands in shops again, the majority of respondents worldwide (31%) are spending less money and less time shopping than before the pandemic, with 30% of UK respondents and 28% of US respondents also reporting this combination. Worldwide, only three percent report spending more money and more time in shops than before the outbreak. However, 29% of French shoppers feel they are spending as much money and time in shops as before, while 26% of Chinese shoppers are spending more and spending less time in shops now. This points to the fact that more and more consumers around the world can adopt this "mission shopping" strategy in shops.

Optimism ranges from an expected return to "normal". Consumers around the world are evenly split between those who think their shopping habits will return to normal by the end of 2020 (25%) and those who think it will take until the summer of 2021 (25%). Only 10% of the world's population think that their buying habits will never return to what they were before the pandemic.

The desire to shop in shops remains quite strong

Since deconfinement was implemented, the in-store sensory experience continues to play a crucial role, with the ability to touch, smell and try the product cited as the main reason why consumers around the world still choose to buy in physical shops rather than online (47%), followed by the ease of instant take-home shopping (46%) and the opportunity to discover new products (36%).

Only 8% of consumers worldwide reported that the health measures in place in shops were detrimental to their shopping experience.

Particular types of shop inspire more confidence: 60% of consumers consider that they feel more comfortable going to all types of shops. 40% of shoppers worldwide said they feel more comfortable going to certain types of shops, 45% have more confidence in supermarkets and grocery shops - which is common to all consumers, men or women surveyed in each country studied. Next come convenience shops and department shops (both at 29%) followed by technology and electronics shops (27% of global respondents).

Technology and electronics shops (have become the second most reliable type of shop for consumers aged 16-54 (at 29% on average), with the exception of those aged 25-34 who have a slight preference for department shops (at 30%). Behind supermarkets (at 57%), those aged 55 and over are most comfortable visiting convenience shops (at 33%).

There is a strong difference between French and Chinese consumers, who, at 31% and 33% respectively, have the greatest preference for local shops behind supermarkets as the type of shop that they trust the most.

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