- More than half of consumers (54%) expect to participate in sales events and 42% plan to spend less than a year ago
- 91% of those who will participate will shop for deals online
- Online shopping adoption differs across markets and categories
- Home appliances and technology products are purchased online, drinks and fresh food from physical stores
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to online shopping and its long-term adoption in certain product categories and markets, according to the fifth edition of the EY Future Consumer Index. More than a third (37%) of the 14,467 consumers surveyed say the pandemic will keep impacting their lives for at least another year. This rises to 43% in Europe and 66% in Japan, while consumers in India (19%) and China (18%) are noticeably more optimistic.
Globally, consumer respondents believe the way they shop will change over the long-term and 39% say they will shop more online for things they used to buy in stores.
“With a less forecasted revenue for the holiday seasons, retailers must carefully walk the line of profitability, while continuing their investments in touchless operations, personalized content and automated marketing campaigns. The natural next step is to enhance their loyalty programs from general “earn & burn” mechanisms to meaningful rewards for each individual / micro customer segments”, says Cristian Carstoiu, Partner, Consulting, EY Romania.
Online shopping adoption varies across markets and categories
The EY Future Consumer Index finds that consumers in China and, to a lesser extent, the UK are far more likely to shop online as their primary channel than those elsewhere. Those in Germany and France are less open to the idea.
Overall, respondents identified appliances and technology (53%) as a category of products they will primarily buy online, while beverages and fresh food are categories they will prefer to purchase in store.
Online grocery shopping penetration continues to be lower in most markets. But during the pandemic, 55% of consumers have bought their groceries online at least once. Of those, 42% say they are now ordering groceries online more frequently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking to the future, 19% of respondents say they will primarily shop online for fresh food and 16% for non-alcoholic beverages, up from 3.4% and 1.6% respectively in 2019.
This trend shows that online shopping, even in low penetration categories, is not only on the rise, but is a trend that will most likely stick post-pandemic.
The survey also notes that the categories in which consumers are most likely to buy online are also the categories in which they are most likely to value service and advice when making a purchase – technology, beauty and cosmetics, and clothing, shoes and accessories.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on big sales events
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of respondents have seen their incomes decrease and a majority (60%) are now thinking more carefully about how they spend their money. Furthermore, 41% of consumers have cut spending on non-essentials and 46% are postponing the purchase or replacement of big-ticket items. These trends point to a potentially slower end-of-year shopping season.
Although more than half (54%) of consumers expect to participate in the next big shopping or sales event, EY Future Consumer Index data suggests that 42% of consumers globally plan to spend less during the shopping season than a year ago.
Of those who will participate, 91% will spend at least half of their shopping spend online, showing the importance of online retail this season.
With such a rapid shift to online shopping, business leaders must challenge their assumptions about what the digital consumer wants. Now is the time to develop a distinctive online strategy and prioritize the critical moments of truth along the end-to-end shopper journey.
The latest edition of the EY Future Consumer Index is available at ey.com/futureconsumerindex5.
About EY Romania
EY is one of the world's leading professional services firms with 298,000 employees in more than 700 offices across 150 countries, and revenues of approx. $37.2 billion in the financial year that ended on 30 June 2020. Our network is the most integrated worldwide, and its resources help us provide our clients with services allowing them to take advantage of opportunities anywhere in the world.
With a presence in Romania ever since 1992, EY is the leading company on the market of professional services. Our more than 800 employees in Romania and Moldova provide integrated services in assurance, tax, strategy and transactions, and consulting to clients ranging from multinationals to local companies.
Our offices are based in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Iasi and Chisinau. In 2014, EY Romania joined the only global competition dedicated to entrepreneurship, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. The winner of the national award represents Romania at the world final taking place every year in June, at Monte Carlo. The title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year is awarded in the world final. For more information, please visit: www.ey.com
About the EY Future Consumer Index
The EY Future Consumer Index tracks changing consumer sentiment and behaviors across time horizons and global markets, identifying the new consumer segments that are emerging. The Index provides regular longitudinal indicators and a unique perspective on which changes are temporary reactions to the COVID-19 crisis, those which point to more fundamental shifts, and what the consumer post COVID-19 might be like. The fifth edition of the EY Future Consumer Index surveyed 14,467 consumers across the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand during the week of 29 September through 5 October 2020.