Young women going shopping

Vaccine roll-out affecting consumer behaviour and spending

Image credit: Dreamstime

Consumers are more likely to increase their spending once vaccines have been more widely rolled out, according to research from data analytics firm SAS.

The research also suggests that some businesses could be in danger of missing out on this pending windfall, with more than half (51 per cent) of customers saying they would ditch a brand after one or two bad experiences and 53 per cent having followed through on this claim during the pandemic by switching providers. This is in spite of 82 per cent believing that the customer experience has improved since the pandemic started.

Meanwhile, a quarter (28 per cent) will resist change once the pandemic subsides and return to pre-pandemic shopping habits. This still means that over half (58 per cent) will be changing for good, forcing businesses to quickly adapt to their customers in light of loyalty diminishing.

According to the global research by SAS, when asked if they would increase their spending, nearly a fifth (17 per cent) said they would, compared to just a tenth (10 per cent) who said they would reduce spending once vaccines were available.

Low prices and special discounts alone will not be enough to prevent customers from switching brands. While a fifth (21 per cent) of people switched providers for lower prices and better discounts elsewhere, 15 per cent switched to a provider offering a simpler and easier to use online experience. Meanwhile, 11 per cent switched for faster or more convenient delivery options and a further 11 per cent changed providers due to a negative customer experience.

When asked to list their top three components of the customer experience, the research showed:

  • 47 per cent of customers see low prices and special discounts as a top three priority.
  • 49 per cent value convenience as a key component of the customer experience.
  • 42 per cent ranked companies that act fairly and responsibly as a top three priority.
  • 53 per cent cited good customer service over lockdowns as a key area of the customer experience.

In comparison to the previous consumer research SAS conducted in September 2020, the latest research shows price has less sway over customers, while other areas of the customer experience are rising in importance. In the space of half a year, price has decreased in importance from 54 per cent to 47 per cent, while other areas of the customer experience have risen in importance, on average, from 27 per cent to 33 per cent.

Tiffany Carpenter, head of customer intelligence, SAS UK & Ireland, said: “Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen customer attitudes and behaviours change significantly. Customers are demanding more from the customer experience than ever before with prices and discounts continuing to fall in importance compared to other factors. They will happily switch providers after one or two bad experiences and, with 48 per cent of all customers now digital customers, it’s never been easier to switch providers.

“With this research, customers have laid down a challenge for businesses. Companies must now react and offer a more personalised service to their customers, ensuring that the customer experience they are offering is the best one available. This can be achieved by leveraging the power of advanced, cloud-based analytics, which will help businesses gain a deeper, more personal understanding of their customers. Organisations that don’t seize this opportunity will live to regret it as they watch their customers happily switch to those that do.”

To help businesses provide a more tailored customer experience, customers are now more willing to provide personal data to companies. 30 per cent of customers said they are more likely to share personal data with businesses now than they were before the pandemic, compared to 17 per cent who are less likely. Just over a third of those people more likely to share their data specified that they would do this in return for an improved customer experience.

However, companies must also take into consideration that customers’ awareness of fraud has risen significantly during the pandemic. 62 per cent are now either more vigilant when it comes to fraud or have experienced it personally, with 22 per cent personally experiencing an increase in scam messages. The report argues that organisations, therefore, need advanced analytics to provide effective protection against fraud while still offering a seamless customer experience.

It appears that the pandemic has changed customer behaviour permanently: only 28 per cent said they will be reverting back to the same shopping habits as before the pandemic, while 58 per cent will not be returning to ‘normal’. 26 per cent of the latter group said they will use even more online and digital apps than they do currently.

The research was conducted and statistics compiled for SAS by 3Gem. Consumers completed an online questionnaire in February 2021 across a number of markets (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) adding up to a global sample of 10,000 adults over the age of 18.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles