(Image credit?Roy Edwards) Wunderman Thompson Commerce has published findings from its research around vulnerable consumers during the lockdown. Brands must not forego the 44% of millennial consumers who prefer online purchases to be digital and downloadable, rather than physical.

The company’s Future Shopper report – reviews the current commerce landscape. The report found that 28% of consumers’ annual spend is on digital services. It includes services such as streaming music and films, rising to 34% amongst millennials (those aged between 25 and 34). This figure is likely to increase further still as more consumers look for new ways to keep themselves busy indoors.

The research surveyed over 14,000 people in seven countries across the globe. 65% of consumers expect to use digital shopping channels more in future. It rises to 72% for those aged between 16 and 24. With no sign of lockdown measures being lifted anytime soon, these numbers are only likely to increase.

Setting the benchmark for service

Amazon continues to set the benchmark for service. Seventy-five percent of consumers wish more brands and retailers offered the same level of service. More than half of UK consumers (57%) subscribe to Amazon’s flagship loyalty programme, Prime, up from 49% the previous year.

Amazon still leads when it comes to inspiration and search too. The majority of consumers, 52%, look to Amazon the most for inspiration, and 63% start their search there. Overall, consumers purchase from the company an average of seven times a month. It is more than other marketplaces (five times), retailer sites (four times), social platforms (three times) or the website of the brand they want (three times) each month.

Online shopping – and shopping on Amazon in particular – is a popular choice across most industry sectors. This includes health and pharmaceutical, entertainment and toys. Thirty percent of those purchasing luxury products and 40% of those buying groceries would never purchase these products online. But with lockdown measures still firmly in place for most countries, consumer resolve is likely to be tested. Loyalty to physical stores is expected to wane.

Supermarket loyalty remains

For now, however, Amazon doesn’t win out on everything, and supermarket loyalty programmes are incredibly popular. Seventy-four percent belong to a grocery loyalty scheme, making them more popular than Amazon Prime membership (55%). Globally, the membership of supermarket loyalty schemes is higher amongst women (78%) than men (68%).

Sixty-seven percent of shoppers would rather visit a supermarket website or physical stores to buy groceries than go to Amazon. In contrast, just 10% say they would order their groceries from the retail giant. Despite supermarkets struggling to cope with the surge in demand caused by COVID-19, it’s clear they remain the outlet of choice for consumers. This is regardless of the lockdown measures.

New technologies for millennial consumers

New technologies are changing expectations, and consumers are crying out for more innovation in their shopping experience. Innovation and technology are now key considerations for almost half of consumers (47%) when choosing where to shop. Fifty-two percent of respondents wish brands would be more innovative in how they use digital technology to improve user experience. Social commerce is also a key ingredient in the retail mix. Forty-two percent of consumers actively recommend products to their friends through direct messaging or tagging on social media.

(Image Credit/LinkedIn/Neil Stewart)
Neil Stewart, CEO, Wunderman Thompson Commerce

Neil Stewart, CEO, Wunderman Thompson Commerce suggested: “Brands and retailers are having to find new revenue streams online to ensure they’re not being left behind. This means having a balanced strategy in place that incorporates direct-to-consumer, B2B and B2B2C business models. In addition, the strategy should incorporate marketplaces and retailer.com to maximise exposure.

“Whilst the lockdown measures have benefited Amazon. The need for brands to evolve quickly in response will likely foreshadow how they respond to changing demand in future. After all, consumers are increasingly looking to buy digital products in place of physical ones. They will be looking to a new generation of brand and retailer to fulfil that demand.”

In China, consumers are even more excited by eCommerce and seemingly more prepared for this retail landscape under COVID-19.

  • 93% of Chinese consumers expect to increase their use of digital shopping channels in the future.
  • 85% are excited about the idea of the future heralding cashless payments (vs 44% internationally).
  • 84% use social media to tag friends for products.
  • Over half (54%) use or have used devices to automatically re-order products (compared to only 24% for the international average).

Enterprise Times: What this means for business?

It is quite an extensive report about millennial consumer attitudes and behaviours. The coronavirus first emerged at the very end of 2019. Since then, retailers around the world have seen consumer demand rescind or sky-rocket overnight. This report explores how consumers’ appetite for digital shopping channels and digital services has continued to rise. This increase has come despite the business fallout of the pandemic.

With customers now stuck indoors, eCommerce is set to become even more sought after in the coming months and for the foreseeable future. The findings are clear. While the long-term impact of the coronavirus remains uncertain, the benefits that digital products, services and shopping channels pose to consumers has never been more apparent. The retail sector will need to evolve quickly in order to keep pace with this new demand.


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