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Spring 2021 Snapshot: COVID's Impact on Consumer Behavior

Colorful beach chairs on sand spaced apart for social distancing

The one-year anniversary of the global pandemic has come and gone, and no industry has gone unaffected. Consumers have reacted outwardly, exhibiting continued caution and careful behaviors. While NCSolutions reports 80% are optimistic about the post-vaccine environment, they also don’t believe the pandemic will subside until 2022 or later.

Vaccines are only slightly affecting the perceived risks of crowds brought on by COVID-19 concerns. Consumers are still playing it safe by wearing masks, postponing travel, and seeking digital ways to engage. Meanwhile, they await the “all clear” indicator, for which there is no consensus, according to Datassential

The coming twilight of the pandemic across the world is giving way to a dawn of new priorities. A new Meredith Corporation study finds women, in particular, (seven out of 10) will be making changes in the way they live. To monitor and illustrate just how COVID is impacting consumer behavior, our Market Intelligence team compiled a snapshot of the most compelling stats from recent weeks.

Have vaccine, will travel(?)

The top three things consumers are looking forward to when the pandemic is over:

  • Traveling to visit family and friends
  • Taking a vacation
  • Dining out at restaurants more often [source

A majority of Americans continue to say the vaccines make them optimistic about traveling safely in the next six months. The vast majority (84%) of American travelers have trips at least tentatively planned. [source

Inherently crowded places still must work hard to reassure customers that the experience is safe for everybody. Few consumers feel very safe about these activities:

  • Going to public gatherings (12%) 
  • Attending a sporting event or live concert (10%)
  • Air travel/flying on a plane (9%)
  • Taking public transportation (8%) [source]

Hungry habits of the homebound

Home bars and coolers have been well-stocked this past year. Sales are up for premixed cocktails (84%), domestic beer (31%), imported wine (28%), and spirits (24%). [source]

Cooking at home is now a staple of the American diet. Almost half (47%) say they cook more frequently now than before the pandemic. [source]

Consumers are downloading more restaurant apps, and app usage has spiked. The vast majority of consumers (82%) indicated that they have downloaded at least one new mobile app to purchase food or essentials. And 79% of consumers order directly from restaurant apps more than once a month. [source]

64% of consumers feel safe going to the grocery store. [source

For restaurants, curbside pickup has been a valuable addition to the customer experience, which has earned its own set of consumer expectations:

  • 55% of consumers expect to be automatically checked-in via the restaurant’s app, and for staff to be notified to bring items directly to their car
  • 54% stated they like using curbside pickup because it’s safer than dining in the restaurant
  • 46% of consumers expect curbside wait times to be under six minutes [source]

New normals settle in

78%  of female consumers seek positive messages from brands, including advertising that focuses on how we are united as Americans.  Also, 58%  say they will continue to purchase new brands they tried during the pandemic after it is over. [source

74% of shoppers claim that COVID-19 has impacted their shopping journey, while 42% of those expect these changes to be permanent. [source

Due to economic strains from the pandemic, 70% claim that finding a discount or deal is more significant to shoppers now versus a year ago. [source]

82% of consumers want their financial institution to serve them through more digital/remote processes. As of February 2021, 85% of consumers are willing to try a new digital app or website. [source]

Consumers prefer self-checkouts over store associates if given an option. In a Raydiant study,  Consumers were asked, “If you had a choice and both lines took the same amount of time, which would you choose?” 

  • Self-checkout 59.8%
  • Store associate 34.5%
  • I don’t know 5.7% [source]

Stay in the know

As consumer behavior continues to change amid the pandemic, so will our updates. For more on RRD's response to COVID-19 and related resources, head here.