The arrival of COVID-19 accelerated convenience trends in ways that would have likely taken decades otherwise, according to audience measurement group Nielsen. As consumers resume many of their pre-pandemic activities, retailers need to remain focused on convenience – even as consumers leave the comfort of their homes.
Even before the pandemic, brands and retailers were looking at digital options to and omnichannel shopping. Pandemic-driven lockdowns have only increased consumer’s taste for those things. Retailers now more than ever will need to meet customers where they are – that means giving them options.
Staying nimble, flexible and focused on consumers will be critical for retailers now that new standards of convenience exist, Nielsen reports.
These services – such as in-store or curbside pickup – won’t replace in-store shopping, but they’ll complement it. Nielsen reports that in-store shopping behavior changed very little between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2020, especially in grocery shopping trends.
The importance of convenience across channels will only increase going forward, particularly as consumers grow increasingly comfortable with resuming pre-pandemic activities, Nielsen reports. A Nielsen ongoing consumer lifestyle survey about the pandemic conducted by Nielsen Audio found that “sentiment among U.S. consumers that life is starting to become more normal was at its highest level in June 2021, with 90% of respondents saying they felt ready to resume pre-pandemic activities, including in-store shopping, spending time with others and eating out.”
Now is the time to re-engage with customers, Nielsen said. “While essential retailers that have had frequent, ongoing engagements with consumers over the past year are likely top-of-mind among shoppers, many retailers may need to re-introduce themselves to the broader public — especially if they pulled back on their marketing and ad spend last year,” according to the Nielsen “Insights” blog.
Store operators need to focus on building their brands and letting consumers know they’re not only still in business, but bringing that business to consumers on consumers’ terms. That’ll be especially important in planning holiday sales strategies.
It’s time for retail to move on from simply keeping afloat during the pandemic’s hard time, but bring themselves back into focus for the customers they’re targeting.