Increased local consumption of goods and services, an expansion of e-commerce to include a new wave of digital shoppers, as well as a new era of value-consciousness, are three major consumer trends that are likely to continue as the world emerges from lockdown, a new global study has revealed.

According to research firm Kantar, COVID-19 has driven a surge in “localism” around the world, with two-thirds (65%) of consumers now preferring to buy goods and services from their own country.

Chinese consumers feel most strongly about championing local produce with 87% expressing this view, followed by consumers in Italy (81%), South Korea (76%) and Spain (73%), while 42% overall say they now pay more attention to the origin of products.

This sentiment is being driven to some extent by concerns about the safety of imported goods, and Kantar found that global consumers say they are “slightly” or “far less” in favour of buying goods from China (60%) and the US (47%) in particular.

The move to “localism” is one of three major trends identified by Kantar for its latest COVID-19 Barometer, a fourth wave of research conducted between 24-27 April that involved 45,000 consumers across 50 markets.

Tasked with trying to understand the next “new normal” in commerce, the Kantar researchers also confirmed, echoing other studies, that e-commerce is growing rapidly.

According to the Wave 4 research – Wave 1 dates to mid-March – about a third of households (32%) increased their digital spend during the current crisis, while a similar proportion (33%) expect to buy more online once the pandemic is over.

And the acceleration of this e-commerce boom is expected to create new household brand names because 38% of consumers say they will continue to buy from online stores that they first visited during the crisis, while another 31% will continue to buy new products and services that they first started to buy during the crisis.

Finally, Kantar predicts that value for money will be a third major global trend because the proportion of consumers who say they pay “more attention to prices” increased from 59% in late March to 68% by the end of April. Furthermore, 45% believe brands should do more to help consumers by offering discounts and promotions.

Commenting on the findings Rosie Hawkins, Kantar’s chief innovation officer, said: “We know that periods of disruption accelerate change, and that it takes between one and two months for new habits to become ‘sticky’. We believe these three trends will become important as the world’s biggest brands plan their paths back to healthy growth in the post-pandemic period.

“E-commerce, and particularly ensuring a great customer experience needs to become a mainstay of every consumer brand. Successful incumbents will need to watch out for emerging D2C competitors who have been more agile and creative during the lockdown period.

“New value-add strategies will need to be developed to respond to the economic anxiety that will remain for some time. Brand strategists will need to more closely evaluate their resourcing strategies and explore the opportunities that strong provenance creates.”

Sourced from Kantar; additional content by WARC staff