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TRANSFORMATION | 27.11.2020

Leisure and “homebody” shopping

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While we wait for the real possibility of a vaccine or treatment against COVID-19 to restore confidence around the world and give people the courage to return to the streets, shopping has been more of a stay-at-home form of leisure during these months. The two are linked by the homebody concept, which Americans sometimes use as an economic epithet. Leisure and shopping for the home and the body. Will this continue into the coming months?

Samuel Beckett said, “Our time is so exciting that people can only be shocked by boredom.” For months, the only outlet we’ve had, after finishing our daily responsibilities, has been leisure at home. It has been characterized by measures and recommendations for restricting mobility and socialization, a keener perception of risk, and the impact of the economic crisis on households.

In the first quarter of 2020, Netflix saw its number of subscribers soar and Disney+ nearly doubled its subscriber base to over 50 million, according to McKinsey in partnership with Oxford Economics. With the streets off limits, COVID-19 has created a new consumer experience, which involves more digital interaction and a greater appetite for virtual platforms and entertainment content.

There has been a real disruption to both leisure and consumer models, in terms of when, where and what we buy.

 

“COVID-19 has created a new consumer experience, which involves more digital interaction and a greater appetite for virtual platforms and entertainment content”. 

Redefining need and a shift to value

The changes in consumer behavior are reflected, first and foremost, by the shifts to digital and value. Across all age groups and countries, there has been an increase in online purchases, including among non-native digital profiles.

McKinsey warns of a “shock to loyalty,” with three out of four buyers in the U.S. more willing to choose brands that they consider good value. They are also prioritizing the consumption of information and training—88 percent of children are involved in some kind of remote learning program—as well as products intended for home use, as we remain far from the possibility of traveling. Globally, international travel and related expenses have dropped 80 percent, without any revival in sight.

The economic impact on households has also conditioned the behavior of consumers, whose optimism varies according to geographical location, and they admit that they are now more attentive to the balance between quality and price, and are keeping a closer eye on discounts. Millennials and people with high incomes show the greatest optimism.

“La Covid-19, según los expertos, ‘nos ha hecho madurar en el consumo’, que se mueve ahora más por necesidad (alimentación y entretenimiento), valores y compromiso con la sostenibilidad”.

Maturity, safety and well-being

According to experts, COVID-19 “has made us more mature consumers.” This means our shopping is now more guided by necessity (food and entertainment), values and commitment to sustainability.

According to the consultant KPMG, in its report titled Consumer and the new reality (first wave, July), the impact of the pandemic has made consumers more health conscious. This is reflected in the factors being prioritized in terms of consumption: safety has experienced the greatest growth.

In Spain, 42 percent of the participants who were asked said that they had become more selective in their purchases. They also professed to be more selective generally in terms of where they place their trust. They chose brands that were wholesome, transparent, service-oriented, and whose goals went beyond business profit.

In its report The Health Revolution: From “Wellness” to “Well-being,” the communication consultant Llorente&Cuenca warns that the pandemic has done more than accelerate existing trends in wellness. In this way, the private sector, the main trust point for the majority of consumers around the world, has also seen its brands incorporate the concept of well-being.

As adaptable and resilient as human beings are by nature, these changes are probably not irreversible. All analysts are waiting for December, a month traditionally oriented toward leisure and shopping, as the ultimate barometer of where things stand in this respect. They hope to see clear trends in the volume and type of our purchases, and whether or not there is a return to old habits: visiting physical stores and eating out, holidays involving air travel, and non-essential purchases.

It will say a lot about whether we have really changed as people and consumers, or whether the changes seen during these months in our lives will have been mostly short-term. Hours after Pfizer announced the high efficacy of its vaccine, Zoom, Netflix, and Amazon collapsed in the markets, as if the lockdowns had been buried. Will the rules of play change once more?