In 2020, COVID-19 created shockwaves across our daily lives and habits—including our shopping behaviors. Foot traffic in retail and grocery stores took a hard hit when the pandemic initially started, and while it has improved month over month, according to placer.ai industry trends, it is still lower than it was in 2019.

Four key trends in consumer shopping behaviors have emerged or evolved in 2020 that are likely to continue into the years ahead. Brands should account for these trends while planning and developing strategies for 2021 and beyond.

Accessibility: Curbside Pick-up Becomes a Must-Have

While the pandemic didn’t create the demand for greater access and convenience, it certainly accelerated it. The growth of fully online services and portals can be seen across all categories. Prior to this year, hybrid options like curbside pickup were already picking up steam, but in 2020 they almost became mandatory for many companies. Curbside started largely in the grocery space, but we have seen large retailers like Target, Home Depot and others offer this service to meet consumer demand. 

CNBC reported that Target has seen a 700% growth in this part of its business. By offering this service, they are keeping their physical locations relevant, while satisfying the consumer need.

Value: Consumers Are Motivated to Try New Brands

Brand loyalty has loosened and shifted in 2020, as consumers have responded to the pandemic by exploring different shopping behaviors and expressing intent to incorporate these behaviors going forward. As job uncertainty has increased, so has cost awareness, and value is the primary reason for consumers to try new brands and retailers. Convenience and availability also factor into consumer decisions, which ties directly back to the accelerated growth of online service and curbside pickup options.

Trust: Brands Leverage Influencer Marketing

2020 has brought on a major shift in the way that brands and influencers work together.  In today’s world where omni-channel approaches are becoming the norm, Brands are beginning to include influencer marketing as part of their holistic marketing efforts, integrating it strategically across channels rather than approaching it as a series of one-off tactics. Consumers are putting more trust into brands they feel are authentic, and influencer relationships allow brands to get their message out in a way that does just that. According to a survey conducted by Bizaarvoice, Inc., the leading provider of product reviews and user generated content, 41% of respondents said they had purchased a product an influencer had recommended. 

Convenience: Social Commerce is on the Rise

Social commerce is a subset of ecommerce, where you can buy or sell a products or services directly within the native social media experience. It makes social media platforms a one-stop-shop for community, information and purchasing.

Social commerce is becoming a key piece of the ecommerce mix for several reasons:

  • Facebook has almost 1.79 billion daily active users
  • 60% of Instagram users say they find new products on Instagram
  • 42% of shoppers say they have made a purchase on social media

As we say goodbye to 2020 and look forward to 2021, brands need to be flexible and adapt to shopping preferences and behaviors forming in the wake of COVID-19 and other events. Accessibility, value, trust and convenience will continue to be important to consumers and drive sales, and marketing efforts need to address and uplift the aspects of a company’s offerings that deliver on these trends.