By Karina Margit Erdelyi

Holiday Cheer & COVID Fear: Critical Importance of Research Insights & Data Analytics continued…

The time has come to deep dive into behavioral consumer data insights. Why? Because you don’t want to get caught with your proverbial pants down. The world is changing lightning fast — brands that don’t invest in understanding the COVID and post-COVID customer will be left in the dust. Here are some key market research insights and trends into today’s customer and beyond.

‘Tis the season to shop, but questions abound: how, when, where?

It is hard to underscore just how vital holiday shopping is for a wide swath of companies. Holiday sales represent about 20% of annual retail sales, with some retailers in the hobby, toy, and games space even higher, clocking in at 30% according to the National Retail Federation. While American optimism on economic recovery continues to build, at the same time, more than 50% of US consumers do not see their pre-pandemic routines returning until the latter half of 2021 or later, according to a recent McKinsey report. A recent Google survey found that 50% of American shoppers say that the pandemic will affect how they shop for gifts this season, reaffirming the need for agility and nimbleness to pivot for this holiday season, into 2021, and beyond. Companies looking for a new North star in these chaotic times are increasingly turning to market research insights to guide the new way forward. Here are some key trends:

Safety First Drives Customer Engagement

Of 1,000+ consumers surveyed in the USA about their holiday shopping plans by Radial, a leader in omnichannel technology, the majority plan to spend the same amount as they did last year on gifts. And retailers take note: 63% of shoppers surveyed said they are slightly or very much more likely to purchase from a retailer that they believe is carefully following COVID-19 safety precautions in-store.

Hello Brand and Channel Loyalty Disruption!

Americans are spreading their brand wings and venturing into new territory. Consumers are experimenting with new brands and channels — better value and convenience are the main drivers of this new behavior. As many as 75% of Americans have tried a new shopping behavior, and research shows that most intend to continue the new shopping behavior post-COVID.

The Hygge Economy

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for cultivating a cozy and comfortable environment in one’s home. It’s replete with feelings of warmth, wellness, and convivial contentment. In these stressful times, consumers are seeking ways to connect, unwind, and ramp up their homes’ comfort factor. As we continue our foray into a more insular homebody economy — with just 36% of Americans engaging in “normal” activities outside the home — in-home alternatives like online shopping reign supreme, along with online streaming, and an invigorated interest in cooking and baking, which are all projected to stick post-pandemic.

Digital is the Future and the Future is Here

Americans are trying on new digital habits and ramping up usage of digital engagement in categories like grocery delivery and take out. Market research shows that 60% of consumers will use e-commerce to a much greater degree than in previous years because of COVID safety concerns and greater familiarity with e-commerce. Consumers continue to shift to online shopping across varied categories from clothing, household items, sundries, and more. The data indicates that this shift to digital is here to stay — and many consumers plan to shift their shopping almost entirely online, even post-pandemic.

Everything Old is New Again: #ShopLocal and #ShopSmall

While 75% of shoppers who plan to do holiday shopping said they would shop online more than in previous seasons, an exciting twist has come to light. Local has become key. 66% of shoppers surveyed by Google said that they plan to shop more at their local businesses. And here’s the thing, a whopping 82.8% would instead support a local business than a large corporation — and eight out of 10 would be willing to spend more money at their local businesses.

Hidden within all the COVID clouds are silver linings. Digital reigns supreme, but local is increasingly important to shoppers at the same time. There is greater consciousness of where money is being spent, offering opportunities to companies poised to capitalize on all the change. And stuck-at-home shoppers — with no holiday parties or vacations on the horizon — may spend more on holiday gifts.