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Consumers are still buying, but purchasing behaviours change during lockdown

  • 56% buy out of necessity, though 34% buy to make life easier, 30% to entertain and 27% as a reward for themselves
  • 32% take longer to research what to buy than they would have done prior to lockdown
  • Lockdown has made considerations such as ease of purchase, availability and delivery times more important

Six weeks into official social distancing, Bauer Media carried out a new research study to measure how consumer behaviour has changed since lockdown, building on initial findings gathered on 19th March. The updated results show how consumer buying has increased since the lockdown started, with people not only buying out of necessity, but for entertainment, reward or boredom.

Staying at home, consumers are now able to spend more time when buying. Respondents agreed that they are now taking longer to research a product before buying than they had before lockdown, considering more than just price, value and quality.

Top factors influencing buying behaviour have changed

Results from the new study indicate that a large proportion of purchases are non-essential as people look for ways to improve their lives during lockdown. Whilst 56% of respondents agreed that they most likely shop out of necessity, people are now buying for a whole host of different reasons:

  • 34% buy to make life easier
  • 30% buy to entertain
  • 27% buy as a reward for themselves
  • 20% buy out of boredom

Time researching before purchase is increasing

With more time on their hands, respondents mentioned that the time spent researching and buying has also risen. 32% now take longer to look up and consider a product or service before buying than before. Alongside usual reasons for consideration, respondents noted that lockdown has made other factors more important:

  • 42% said ease of purchase
  • 41% said availability
  • 19% said company reputation
  • 19% said speed of delivery

Whilst the research and decision-making phase is longer across sectors, some are longer than others. 63% of consumers now spend longer contemplating purchases around educational equipment – especially since schools have closed – 59% spend longer when buying kitchen equipment, and 52% spend longer when purchasing entertainment electronics.

Actual purchasing is higher than intention to buy pre-lockdown

Despite predominantly being at home, 21% of people are still buying new clothes. This is more than those who intended to buy clothes as the lockdown began (13%) and is an example of consumer purchasing habits changing as the lockdown progresses. This is similar across many sectors, especially products that are proving useful to lockdown living, including DIY items (18% vs. 11% who intended to buy) and Gardening equipment (15% vs. 12% who intended to buy).

Commenting on what the research means for brands, Abby Carvosso, Group MD, Bauer Advertising, said: “As consumption habits change and increasingly more people are buying non-essential items to keep themselves entertained and rewarded, it’s important that brands not only continue to advertise, but ensure messaging appeals to these needs of time-filling, treats and rewards. With consumers’ decision-making processes increasing too, brands also have the opportunity to target people more frequently during their extended research phases.”

Lucy Wheeler, Director of Bauer Adventure, added: “The notion that brands must lock into consumers’ purchasing triggers is more important than ever. Communications must use the right tone and appropriate messaging in order to connect with potential customers. We recently launched a new service within our Bauer Adventure team which helps brands with just that, ensuring that all our clients continue to stay relevant.”

The survey was conducted on 24-27th April and surveyed 1,198 people on the Bauer Insiders Panel. For the full research report, visit bauermedia.co.uk/covid19-insight. For more information on Bauer Adventure, contact advertising@bauermedia.co.uk.