The public health and economic crises stemming from Covid-19 are driving changes in consumer behaviour that could have long-lasting effects, according to a survey by Strategy&, the global strategy consulting unit of PwC.
The survey, called "Evolving priorities: Covid-19 rapidly reshapes consumer behaviour", canvassed more than 1,600 adult consumers in the United States to understand how they've adjusted their daily routine and spending habits in response to the pandemic.
Consumers in limbo: The survey found that 57% of respondents said they were social distancing from friends, and 50% said they were working from home partially or entirely. Since the Covid-19 outbreak began in their country, 49% have also avoided leaving their homes and 42% stayed away from public transport when leaving home.
A majority (78%) of respondents were worried about the economic costs of the pandemic, such as unemployment, recession and hardship. Seventy-one percent said they were concerned about sickness and life lost, and 48% worried about the virus infecting their families.
The study also found that consumers were buying more essentials since social-distancing orders were imposed. Items such as non-perishable groceries (27%), household and cleaning supplies (25%) and frozen food (25%) were in high demand.
Online shopping and delivery on the rise: As people avoid going out and isolate themselves, shopping behaviour has shifted more online. The survey found that demand for online shopping with home delivery for all categories -- from groceries and frozen food to pet care and alcoholic beverages -- was higher than online shopping with store pickup.
Staying home also means more time for entertainment, cooking, household chores and physical fitness, the survey found.
Changing priorities could have long-lasting effects: When asked to select the activities respondents have spent more time on because they are at home, more than half (56%) said they have a more invigorated approach to life, 28% have picked up new hobbies and 48% intend to maintain newly acquired health and wellness habits over the long term.
"Covid-19 has widely prompted consumers to use technology like never before," says Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, consulting lead partner at PwC Thailand. "From searching for goods and services, ordering food, checking delivery status to attending a virtual classroom, the survey highlights that more people have adjusted their lives to be more online.
"These behavioural shifts will continue after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, driving expectations of increased online services in the future.
"Before Covid-19 hit, Thai retailers generally did a good job of adjusting themselves to the digital age. Many have created online channels for their customers to do transactions, while using data analytics to better understand their needs.
"However, for those who haven't done any of these things, or are at the early stage of digital adoption, they will need a 180-degree adjustment in order to boost sales and bottom lines.
"As we all support our businesses and customers at this challenging time, retailers could look to save costs by exploring free, existing platforms that are already available in the market.
"Establishing a presence on social media is also a good start. They should make sure to always keep content updated and build an experience with customers that goes beyond a transactional relationship."