Covid-19 has brought out fascinating new consumer behaviors. Chances are you’ve surprised yourself in this area. Have you stashed cash in the mattress like grandpa used to do? Were you outed on your neighborhood’s Nextdoor as a toilet paper hoarder? Have you treated yourself to some luxury buys you would never have considered before (granted, that bespoke banjo seemed like the lynchpin of a great new social distancing hobby, although you have yet to open the box)?
It’s OK if you have. You’re statistically normal, at least according to Ernst & Young.
EY researchers have IDed four new types of consumer behaviors brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The segments are fairly evenly split, which can complicate things for brands trying to pivot to keep up. See if you recognize yourself—and your customers—in these four types:
- Save and stockpile (35.1%): This largest segment is pessimistic about the future and shows particular concern for their families and the long-term outlook the pandemic will bring to their lives. More than a third (36%) are spending more on groceries, while most are spending less on clothing (72%) and leisure (85%).
- Cut deep (27.3% of consumers): These consumers, who tend to be 45 years and older, are experiencing the most significant impact on their employment. They’re shopping less frequently, with 64% only buying essentials. “Thirty-three percent feel that brands are far less important to them in the current climate,” EY reports.
- Stay calm, carry on (26.2%): This significant chunk of consumers do not feel directly impacted by the pandemic and are, thus, not changing their spending habits much. For instance, some are spending a bit more on groceries but less on nearly everything else, likely only because they just don’t have convenient access or enough reason to buy right now.
- Hibernate and spend (11.4%): These young consumers (primarily 18-44 years old) are the most concerned about the impact of the pandemic, but also most likely to turn to retail therapy to alleviate those concerns. While 42% say the products they buy have changed significantly (their grocery spending has doubled), 46% say what brands they buy is now more important to them.
But wait, there’s more. While 42% of consumers believe the way they shop will permanently change due to the pandemic, these four crisis-level behaviors won’t stick around, of course. Instead, says EY researchers, they’ll morph into five distinct post-pandemic types.
- 31%, most of whom were “stay calm and carry on,” just want to “get to normal” spending as quickly as possible.
- 25% will be “cautiously extravagant.” These middle- to high-income consumers will spend more on health products, holiday travel, going out, and other strategic luxuries with the belief that a global recession is dawning.
- 22% will “stay frugal” with slightly less spending to try to get back on their feet.
- 13% will “keep cutting” because most have lost their jobs and are still unsure how they’ll make ends meet.
- 9% will be “back with a bang” and anticipate spending more in every category.
EY offers interactive charts and more details about these categories on its Future Consumer Index page.
Of course, merely acknowledging that consumer patterns and attitudes have changed is one thing. Staying on top of those trends and balancing them with factors like changing market share, workforce challenges, supply chain disruptions, and renewed importance on UX and the online user experience are others. You can expect EY to update its Future Consumer Index research as the situation wears on while other resources like Nielsen Consumer Insights and McKinsey & Company report on how these trends and challenges balance out in the long run.