While COVID-19 induced lockdown restrictions forced an online-first shift on consumers’ shopping habits and their interactions with brands, the preference for in-store retail remains.

According to research released by Adobe, close to three quarters (70%) of consumers reported a preference for purchasing grocery items in person, while around half also opted for home delivery (47%), and 17% relied on curbside pick-up.

Across all product categories, younger generations and urban residents preferred home delivery while the older generation preferred in-person shopping, with the exception of media for the latter. Amongst all countries surveyed, Australian consumers were more likely to favour in-person shopping across all product categories.

During the lockdown, 58% of consumers increased their online shopping frequency while three quarters (74%) cited an intention to change their future shopping habits – with Indian and Singaporean consumers reporting the strongest intention. Unsurprisingly, younger generations were more likely to cite an intention to change future shopping habits while older generations preferred to maintain the status quo.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated a broad shift in APAC consumer behaviours and attitudes that have been in the making for some time. It is clear from the results of the study that brands that are nimble in pivoting to this digital ‘new norm’ will be able to create deep and enduring brand resonance while helping their customers feel truly supported,” said Simon Dale, MD, Southeast Asia, Adobe.

The rise of socially and ethically conscious consumers

The survey found a growing social consciousness reflected in the importance consumers placed on staff treatment (77%). Despite this, brands have some way to go - only slightly over half (54%) of consumers agree that brands are doing enough to ensure staff wellbeing. Among the younger generation, attitudes are polarized on this issue - Gen Z typically ascribed less importance while Millennials ascribed more importance to the treatment of staff.

Nearly three in four consumers (73%) found it important for brands to mirror the state of the world in their marketing collaterals in response to COVID-19. China (80%) and India (83%) consumers were more likely to agree with this sentiment. 

 Furthermore, there is a general sense that brands have a duty to proactively offer help or provide special offers to customers at this time. This sense of duty among marketers is strongest in China (94%) and India (94%), and weakest in Australia (82%). In the US, close to four-fifths (78%) of marketers surveyed say brands have this duty.

Making plans for the long term

To respond to these nuances in customer preference, the majority of organizations are transforming their long-term strategy in case this period lasts for more than a year (79%) and are also changing their approach to future marketing efforts (82%). In fact, marketers in APAC organizations indicated a greater inclination to make long-term changes compared to their counterparts in the US. Changes include shifting to different marketing channels (75%), changing prioritized audiences (58%) and reallocating resources across different regions (47%).

The intrinsic value of brands directly addressing COVID-19 in external communications is apparent with almost three quarters (71%) of marketers report having a COVID-19 task force to manage messaging and campaigns. Those in Australia (55%) and Singapore (67%) are less likely to have a task force, while those in China (81%) and India (80%) are more likely. 

In contrast, less than half of marketers in Japan and the US report having specific teams for that. The positive outcome of aligning closely with a COVID-19 task force is that the most marketers in APAC feel that organizational marketing/ communications have been both authentic (94%) and have resonated with customers (92%).

Conducted by research firm Advanis, the study surveyed 4,001 consumers in selected Asia Pacific (APAC) countries – Australia, China, India and Singapore and 1,200 marketers across China, India, Singapore and Australia between 1 – 17 June 2020.

Sourced from Adobe