As the marketing industry around the world continues to map and navigate the post-pandemic commerce landscape, a new report from OMD and Omnicom Commerce Group (OCG) takes a deep dive into the ‘new retail normal’ emerging in the aftermath of the abrupt and extended break in daily habits forced by the 2020 lockdown. ‘Future of Commerce | The Why Behind the Buy,’ examines consumer behaviour and expectations by market, life stage, channel, and category to reveal nuances of the retail environment that are emerging in the post-pandemic marketplace, and how marketers can act on them to drive brand growth.
The quantitative study included over 4,000 respondents from six global markets (Australia, China, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and was conducted via online surveys from May 11 to 27, 2021. Respondents were polled on their attitudes toward pandemic-related changes in their shopping habits, returning to city-centre stores, and technology and data-sharing. They were also polled on their current shopping habits and expectations for both online and in-store purchases.
Key Findings: Despite the continued rise of e-commerce, shopping in physical stores retains a strong appeal as a lifestyle activity that extends beyond the fulfilment of basic needs:
While 39 percent of respondents reported shopping more frequently online during the pandemic – and 24 percent plan to continue buying more online in the future – shoppers still value the experience of shopping in-store, with nearly half of all respondents (49%) preferring the experience of shopping in-store and 47 percent enjoying browsing.
Shoppers are channel-agnostic: there is no such thing as an online vs. offline shopper – and they all want the same thing: Moving forward, nearly half (47 percent) of consumers prefer to buy products both online and in-store. When shopping through any channel, shoppers seek value, convenience, and service, but they prioritise them differently. Both are price-driven, but one of the primary reasons to shop in-store is convenience. There is a great opportunity to redefine city-centre shopping as a lifestyle, with consumers emphasising a desire for a rich combination of socialising, eating and drinking, events, and experiences: More than half of respondents in all markets are optimistic.
As a priority for returning to in-store shopping, one-third of respondents want more health and safety measures, and 26% want more contactless options. Shopping and dining are the most popular activities (49 percent) cited as reasons for returning. However, there is a significant generational divide in net comfort, with millennials (35 percent) and gen X (35 percent) having the least desire compared to gen Z and boomers (42 percent).
There is a clear need to improve communication about the benefits of technology and data, as well as to bridge the trust gap: Despite the fact that 74 percent of respondents believe AI technology can improve the shopping experience, 44 percent do not trust brands’ motivations for using technology. Furthermore, 66% of consumers are unwilling to share any data with third parties.