The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to alter consumer behaviors permanently and cause lasting structural changes to the consumer goods and retail industries, according to findings of an Accenture survey of more than 3,000 consumers in 15 countries across five continents. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports
“The pandemic is likely to produce a more sustainable, healthier era of consumption over the next 10 years, making consumers think more about balancing what they buy and how they spend their time with global issues of sustainability, suggesting a healthier human habitation of the planet,” Oliver Wright, managing director and head of Accenture’s global Consumer Goods practice said.
“At the same time, it’s a wake-up call for companies to ensure they have the agility and capability to be relevant to consumers and customers, with a portfolio of products and services that match shifting purchasing patterns, not just today, but post-pandemic as well.”
The survey, which was conducted between April 2 and April 6, after many countries had implemented stay-at-home orders, found that consumers have already begun shifting their purchasing priorities.
For instance, consumers overall said they were currently buying more personal hygiene and cleaning products, as well as canned and fresh foods than they had been two weeks prior — while purchasing fewer fashion, beauty and consumer electronics items.
More importantly, however, the findings indicate that many of the changes in consumer behavior are likely to continue long after the pandemic. In addition, the crisis is also causing consumers to more seriously consider the health and environmental impacts of their shopping choices.
- 60% of respondents are spending more time on self-care and mental well-being, with about six in 10 consumers (57%) saying they have started exercising more at home;
- 64% of consumers said they’re focusing more on limiting food waste and will likely continue to do so going forward;
- 50% of consumers said they’re shopping more health-consciously and will likely to continue to do so; and
- 45% of consumers said they’re making more sustainable choices when shopping and will likely continue to do so.
Wright said: “The scale of the changes identified in our findings clearly suggest that this is a long-term shift. While we have been seeing these trends for some time, what’s surprising is the scale and pace, compressing into a matter of weeks changes that would likely have taken years. The new consumer behavior and consumption is expected to outlast the pandemic, stretching far beyond 18 months and possibly for much of the current decade.”