Adjust your XM strategy to align with these 5 shifting consumer trends

Paul Tiedt | Apr 1, 2020 Paul Tiedt 04/01/20

Industries across the board are having to prove their agility to keep up with the ever-evolving needs and expectations of customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In such uncertain times, it's the brands that remain responsive and adaptive that will win customer loyalty and stay ahead of the curve.

To arm brands with the data they need to come out on top, we turned to our market intelligence tool BrandGeek®—the fastest, most accurate source of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time. Here are the top trends we uncovered from talking to nearly 10,000 consumers:


3 out of 4 consumers are concerned about their health

Our research shows 77% of consumers are concerned about their health, with only 3% not at all concerned. Given the current climate, this isn’t a big surprise, but one anomaly we did find was men are 10% more likely than women to strongly agree with the statement “I am concerned about my health.”

This could be due to a couple factors: (1) some countries are reporting that men account for a disproportionate number of severe and/or fatal cases and (2) our data shows men are more likely to be participating in higher-risk situations—like dining in restaurants in markets where that’s still an option. We also found concerns about health declined for respondents with 4+ children, perhaps because they are preoccupied with the wellbeing of their children instead of being worried for their own safety.

With heightened health concerns, consumers are turning to brands that are prioritizing customers’ safety. Rethink your marketing and advertising strategies to promote an empathetic message. Communicate how your organization is protecting its employees. And take extra measures to ensure your customer and employee experiences are safe and supportive.


Drive-thru is the most preferred way to get food from restaurants

More consumers are considering drive-thru over any other means of getting their food, with carryout coming in second.

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Since coronavirus was declared a pandemic on March 11, delivery usage has increased by 16%—with most business coming from consumers with an income of $150K or higher. In regard to pick-up orders, restaurants are seeing the most traffic from younger demographics and male customers.

Many brands are implementing free delivery and by keeping cost top-of-mind, restaurants will be more likely to drum up business from a wider range of consumers. It’s also important to ensure your ordering process is simple and seamless, considering not all customers are tech-savvy and may be intimidated by ordering apps.


Online shopping is dominating retail

With so many brick-and-mortar locations temporarily shutting their doors, customers are now spending even more time ordering merchandise online—1 in 4 customers report an increase in buying things online.

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For those retailers with open locations, we’ve obviously seen in-store visits decline. On March 11, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, there was a spike across all retail segments—with club experiencing the highest peak compared to prior visit trends. Over the past few weeks, convenience stores are seeing the largest drop in visits, likely due to the decline of personal travel and gas sales.

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To keep up with customer demands, brands must ensure their online ordering experience is frictionless. And for those essential businesses retaining in-store operations, it’s vital to make cleanliness a priority as customers are more sensitive to safety concerns than ever before.


Most consumers are stocked up on supplies for up to 2 weeks

When it comes to level of preparedness, 40% of consumers have purchased enough items to last them up to two weeks—with 5% armed for two months.

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With social distancing mandates now extended through April, most consumers will continue to shop for household necessities. When looking at specific products being purchased at grocery stores, items with a long shelf life (e.g., dry, canned, and frozen foods) have seen the most uptick.

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Shortages of specific items have been a major problem for most retailers, so understanding consumer needs can help brands plan accordingly.


Consumers want a contactless experience, but are still unsure about telehealth services

The current health crisis has overwhelmed all segments, but no industry is feeling the impact quite like healthcare. With overcrowded hospitals and heightened fears of exposure, it would be easy to assume patients would opt for telehealth services when possible. But our research shows that though 40% of customers say they are willing to engage in medical care via video chat or phone, more customers say they are still not sure.

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The healthcare industry has a huge opportunity to promote telehealth services to serve more of the population. Our research shows younger consumers and those with higher incomes are more willing to adopt online healthcare. Find ways to target a wider range of patients by offering reduced costs for online care and ensuring the process is simple and straightforward for those less familiar with telehealth operations.


Brands have a responsibility to understand the evolving needs of their customers

With expectations changing every day, customer loyalty has never been more vulnerable. Brands across all industries must prioritize the customer experience and have a process in place to listen to feedback and implement the right course of action. We will continue to monitor these evolving consumer trends and provide our findings.

In upcoming posts, we’ll dive deeper into industry-specific trends and help you implement best practices for your organization. Until then, check out our latest COVID-19 resources and please reach out if we can be of any help.


Paul Tiedt | SVP, Research

Customer Experience Update