Despite global lockdowns lifting, COVID-19 has increased the pace of digital transformation exponentially, and consumers have shown a substantial step-change in a more permanent adoption of technology into their everyday lives, according to new research.
The Digital Life Index report from Publicis Sapient conducted research with 3,000 people across five countries including the UK on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviours.
As COVID 19 upended consumer habits, these results demonstrate how consumers have shown a substantial step-change in a more permanent adoption of technology in their everyday lives. Digital as first port of call is a habit here to stay.
Key findings in the UK include:
- Online shopping skyrockets: with 68% of Brits shopping online more than they usually do in the last three months and 69% saying they will do so more in the future. 47% have tried online grocery for the first time and 51% have stated that they will use it more in the future. In fact, 70% prefer paying online to in store, while the UK is the most likely market to go online to find new brands, with more than 3 in 4 people doing so (79%)
- UK Consumers are delaying holidays: 43% of UK consumers have delayed holidays over the last three months. 50% of UK consumers have delayed mostly because of concerns about health of other travellers and 46% have stated restriction in place in destination as a major barrier to travel.
- Use of digital tools: consumers have relied on digital tools for every element of normal life; and the move of these activities into the home is likely to be long-term. 56% of consumers are using YouTube for workouts. In fact, interest in home workouts is five times more popular than it was at the same time last year. Meanwhile, 40% of UK respondents started DIY home improvements over the last three months with 63% learning via YouTube.
Payments have become a health concern as contactless payment methods became a top priority for customers, dictating where they shop and spend as well as shining a spotlight on tap-to-pay credit cards. Online shoppers may have increased in number, with 71% stating they have purchased online more than usual, but amid economic uncertainty, buying priorities have changed and brand loyalty has taken on a new meaning.
Key takeaways from the survey
● Digital channels became a way for people to remain connected, with the lines between food, entertainment and learning blurred– social media fueled new activities and bridged a social gap.
● YouTube taught first-time gardeners how to grow their own food; it was also the top destination for mindfulness and meditation. Of the 22% of respondents that started practicing mindfulness or meditation, over half (52%) did it through YouTube. The story with home workouts was similar, with 56% of consumers using YouTube as a resource.
● Contactless payments and experiences are in high demand with 61% of respondents citing contactless as a key factor in their grocery store selection.
● Online shopping increased for consumers globally. In the past three months, 71% of people shopped more online than they usually do, and 48% think they will shop online more in the future.
● Patients cautiously adopt telehealth and see it as a safe, convenient alternative.
Teresa Barreira, CMO of Publicis Sapient, stated, “We conducted the research from the standpoint that all consumer decisions are made by people. Their needs are beyond a single utility. Their expectations and desire for ease and convenience drive their choices. Digitally centric brands place an increased value on the holistic journey of consumers and seek to improve their lives. The Index gives us a closer understanding of behaviors and enables us to provide business leaders with a unique lens into consumers’ lives to help them understand and respond with data-driven insights.”
The research provides a clear, overarching trend in the last three to six months of a significant convergence of the online and offline worlds. Digital experiences have increased – online shopping, contactless payments, health and fitness – all enabled by consumer expectations and convenience, with social media as the invisible thread that connects us to a global community. It will be interesting to see the continuation of these behaviors, which will stay for the long-term i.e., contactless and mobile payments, and which will inevitably shift back to a degree of pre-COVID “normality.”
Contactless payments and experiences are now a requirement
Social distancing measures are accelerating the call for more contactless interactions. The usage and preference for mobile or contactless payment continue to soar. Sixty-seven percent of participants have used contactless payment for purchases in a physical store, and 39% said that if available, they would use contactless to pay in-store almost every time. Forty-six percent of respondents have used tap-to-pay with a credit card over other methods. Sixty-one percent of participants selected a contactless interaction as one of their top three factors influencing their choice of grocery retailer. These findings suggest that the move away from cash is solidifying. Contactless technology will be expected and will continue to shape the future of travel and dining, providing safer ways for guests to interact, while further integrating digital tools into new experiences.
Shopping becomes personal and on-demand
Over the last three months, 97% of people have at least one category that they prefer to shop online. The most preferred category is apparel, shoes, or accessories (59%), followed by household supplies (52%) and electronics (49%).
Online grocery saw an increase in usage during the pandemic. Fifty-seven percent of respondents started using online grocers during COVID-19, 1 in 2 saying they will continue to use online grocery channels more in the future.
For discretionary items, such as apparel and home improvement/DIY supplies, sales/promotions and a willingness to try new things were the primary factors consumers tried new brands – mirroring hesitancies around discretionary spending and forays into new offline activities.
Health at home
When it comes to health, patients accept telehealth en mass; but gingerly and out of necessity rather than choice. Fifty-six percent of patients tried telehealth over the last 3-6 months, with 55% selecting it to reduce their risk of contracting Co-Vid. There are some topics new telehealth users are resistant to discuss, whereas experienced users are more likely to consider using telehealth for any kind of health question.
These are the findings of the first-ever Publicis Sapient Digital Life Index, a survey conducted between June 18 and June 25, 2020.
For this study, 3,000 people in five countries on four continents were surveyed, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore.
Source: Publicis Sapient