The Coronavirus pandemic has changed many things for individuals and businesses alike, including how consumers shop, according to new research from customer reviews platform Feefo.

The Feefo Brand Perception Report 2021 reveals that consumers are increasingly using conscious and subconscious factors around values, emotions and beliefs in order to make their purchasing decisions. Of the 2,000 Britons surveyed, nearly three-quarters (74%) said they think about a business’s values before making a purchase. In addition to this, 57% believe brands must be socially and environmentally responsible.

It is no surprise that the pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in how consumers shop online and utilise online services. Many businesses have taken steps to improve their online experience and make it easier than ever for their customers to shop, interact and communicate with them. There has also been a large change in the generations using these online features. Older consumers, who previously may have avoided new technologies and been happier with more traditional methods of shopping, have been left with no choice but to get up to speed with online options.

shopping during covid

Marketing Director at Feefo, Keith Povey has said: “It’s been an incredibly volatile 12 months for businesses, which has seen a seismic shift in consumer behaviour, some aspects of which will have a long-lasting effect on how buyers think, act and spend. That said, our research shows that for those businesses that are agile and realign their marketing strategies, there are many opportunities to improve brand awareness, perception and loyalty. Those that respond and act with the medium to long term in mind will see greater returns over the next few years than those that see this period as nothing more than a dip, due to external circumstances.”

Brand Message More Important Than Ever

The report suggests that communication around social and political issues is an important factor for consumers, with 74% saying they would be less likely to buy from a company if they were disappointed by their actions or words.

Bright’s Brand Marketing and Communications Manager, Vic Heyward shared her views on how brands can start to combat this shift in customer focus: “This newer focus on brand accountability for sustainable initiatives can feel daunting for some, especially if you’re not at the forefront of an environmental revolution. For brands like this, taking a step back to reflect on your brand purpose, code of ethics or CSR policy can be an enlightening experience and a way to further engage prospects and employees.”

A key issue the research shows consumers are concerned about is sustainability, with more and more customers actively seeking brands that are making sustainable choices.  

Jonathan Emmins, founder of Amplify, confirms this: “Amplify’s Young Blood research that targeted 18-35 year olds highlighted a paradox where young peoples’ passion and stance on sustainability meant they aspired to buy Finisterre or Patagonia, even if at this early life stage they could only afford Primark or Boohoo. We’re yet to see whether it’s a temporary or more permanent change, but facing the global challenge of the pandemic, consumers are more empathetic, aware of their impact on the world and open to change.” 

Brand Message More Important Than Ever

The Feefo report shows that 61% of consumers will spend more money with companies that are socially responsible and brands they respect, highlighting that a focus on values is something that will ultimately pay off.

It is clear to see that the Covid pandemic has caused a shift in shopping behaviour. What a brand says and does now plays a role in the consumer buying decision, so businesses are urged to respond to these changes quickly by tying their business values to their brand message before the moment is lost.

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