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During this unusual time of either an abundance of free time or no time at all while trying to  balance homeschooling, maintaining relationships, and work, it’s no surprise that women are adapting their behaviors to suit their new realities. 

These behavioral changes are not just in managing work life balance in a time of quarantine, but also how women are navigating shopping for essential and non-essential items for themselves, their partners, and their families

We reached out to over 5,100 women of the Influenster community over the age of 13-years-old to ask how their behaviors may have changed during the pandemic week-over-week. Here are the trends we’re seeing: 

The societal impacts of quarantine are bigger stressors than the virus itself

As one might expect, when asked how respondents were feeling, the word that appeared the most in written responses was ‘anxious’. In fact, ‘anxious’ appeared 3X more than any other word. Other frequently expressed sentiments were (in order of frequency): bored, stressed, good/great, scared, worried, okay, and sad.

“Anxious. I’m worried about everyone and everything. I’m worried about how my financial situation will be after this is over or when it’ll be over.”

Female, 24, Kentucky

We found that financial and economic uncertainty are the top stressors for those who took the survey. This was followed by the stresses of homeschooling and managing new routines and the health of themselves and their families. 

For those who have not been directly impacted by the virus or those who are not at high risk, there is more concern with lay-offs, furloughs, pay cuts, and what will evolve over time with their employment and the future of the economy.

While there is anxiety, there is also perspective: respondents expressed that while the uncertainty causes fear and stress, they’re grateful for their health and safety and have appreciation for those on the frontlines.

Purchase priorities have shifted

With so many shoppers either already experiencing financial struggles or anticipating that they will soon, paired with the availability of supplies in stores, 79% of respondents strongly agree/agree that their shopping behavior has changed massively due to the pandemic, with 1 in 2 stating their priorities in purchase decisions have shifted as a direct result of the virus.

1 in 3 respondents said that their shift in behavior occurred when their government enforced stricter ‘stay at home’ guidelines, and nearly a fifth of respondents stated that their behavior shifted in response to all of the media coverage around hoarding.

In looking at the most important factors when choosing which product to purchase, women are putting less of an emphasis on quality and are more focused on which product is accessible.

Before the pandemic: 1.) quality 2.) price 3.) brand name

During the pandemic: 1.) availability 2.) price 3.) quality

“Supply and demand seem to be leading over brand names or quality at this point. People are frantic to just make sure they have any product vs. none. After this I believe many people will return to brand loyalty and/or quality vs. ‘any product is better than none’.”

– Female, 41, Massachusetts

When looking at women who identify as mothers, we found a shift from quality and child approval to availability. 

Before the pandemic: 1.) quality 2.) approval from kids 3.) price

During the pandemic: 1.) availability 2.)  price 3.) quality

Specific industries have seen shifts in buying behavior too. For groceries, we’ve seen a shift from quality and nutrition to availability and shelf life.

Before the pandemic: 1.) quality 2.) price 3.) nutrition 

During the pandemic: 1.) availability 2.)  longer shelf life 3.) price

And when it comes to clean products (products made with no toxins or chemicals), a third of respondents said they are still purchasing clean products because ingredients are always a priority for them, 43% said they were prioritizing clean products for only some of their purchases, and 26% said their priorities have shifted as a result of the pandemic.

What’s even more interesting is that while many shopping categories are shifting to ‘availability’ and ‘price’ as the top purchase drivers, skincare purchase priorities are still very much about ‘quality’ and ‘effectiveness’ as the leading purchase drivers.

Online shopping won’t replace in-store shopping permanently

We found that 41% of respondents are shopping online for the items that they would typically shop for in-store, and a third agreed that they’re buying more products online than they usually do.

While online shopping is increasing, there is still a desire for the experience and human interaction that brick-and-mortar provides.

“I think to some degree, people might make more purchases online after realizing how available and easy it is, but ultimately I believe people will be excited to go back to their favorite stores, restaurants, and other businesses where there is human connection and shared experience. I think ultimately, after it’s all over, shopping habits will level back out near how they were before the pandemic.”

– Female, 23, Tennessee

Consumers are split on whether they would return to their normal shopping habits after the pandemic is over – 40% of respondents said they think they will return to their normal shopping habits, a third feel it’s too soon to tell, and a fourth anticipate they will continue shopping as they’re currently doing. While it is hard to predict the future right now, it seems as though consumers indicate that they will eventually gravitate back to their normal shopping habits, including patronizing brick-and-mortar stores. 

How brands can proactively plan

When asked about the roles brands can play, respondents expressed a desire to understand the people behind the brands and the businesses and how they’re being taken care of during this time. 

During this time when brand loyalty is rapidly changing, brands will need to be thoughtful with their messaging, nimble with their marketing, and able to build connections for the long run. Consumers are paying attention to the companies that are doing their part to support their workforces and the larger community. Even if they’re buying what’s easily accessible now, times will change, and you’ll want to be the brand that shoppers are loyal to during and after the pandemic. 

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Interested in more information on how shopping behavior has shifted during COVID-19 and how your business should be adapting? View more resources, trends, and data here

 

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