social distancing

As life in quarantine continues, both individuals and corporations have, notably, made adjustments. Though in planning, it is important to consider that business-as-usual may not be quite the same.

The latest intelligence from Harris Polls indicates permanent changes may occur in key industries with shifts to non-public, virtual alternatives. This is perhaps most evident in consumer sentiment toward gyms, with 85 percent of consumers relaying plans to continue exercising at home post-pandemic. As previously reported by WWD, the fitness industry has made one of the most prominent reinventions amid COVID-19, building loyalty through new online practices including Instagram stories and classes on YouTube.

The company’s findings show evidence that socializing may also be altered long term. When the crisis ends, 67 percent of consumers told Harris Polls they would still be more likely to have virtual happy hours with friends over going to a bar for happy hour. Similarly, 65 percent of respondents said they are more likely to get takeout from a restaurant over dining in a restaurant.

This sentiment, however, did have exceptions. Notably, data showed that Americans prefer shopping in-store for groceries with just 27 percent saying they prefer ordering through delivery services. Americans also prefer in-person doctor visits at 64 percent, with only 36 percent saying they are partial to virtual doctor appointments.

When it comes to struggling retailers, Harris Polls found Americans to be forgiving in these times. Seventy-six percent of consumers told the company they believe “large national retailers should be allowed to postpone rent payments if they cannot afford it due to the coronavirus, even if they remain open for business.”

Meanwhile, through the lens of influencer marketing, Influence Central conducted a survey to discern consumer behavior changes. The company noted that it is important to consider that as opposed to a tendency for people to turn to each other for comfort, today’s physical isolation has caused rising anxiety of which typical coping skills — working out, dinner with friends, group sports — are not available.

“It is important for brands to recognize the anxiety help by consumers surrounding the economy,” said the company in its report. During this time, the data found 88 percent of consumers most value cost-saving promotions from brands. More than 82 percent of consumers said they value brands offering discounts, deals, freebies and cost-saving promotions “while enduring the stay-home economy.”

Further, Influence Central found that consumers appreciate brands that have shown a focus on “consumers’ needs during a difficult, unprecedented time.” Fifty-eight percent of consumers said they are impressed by brands providing a necessary service and 55 percent said they value brands that have made changes to help consumers. This extends to brands helping communities, as well as the individual with 58 percent of consumers, saying they value responsible messaging, 54 percent valuing charitable contributions by brands, and half of all consumers saying they value brands that are addressing coronavirus concerns.

In the reverse, data found that consumers do not like when brands have gone silent or attempt humor and comedic relief. Only 37 percent of consumers have gravitated toward charitable give-back purchase.

Preference aside, online shopping has become a staple of the new normal, though according to consumers it is a practice that may have staying power. In the coming days, 72 percent of consumers told Influence Central they “plan to do more shopping online to ship directly to their homes.” Notably, 51 percent plan to limit shopping in-store to essentials and only 31 percent plan to increase grocery delivery.

According to a survey by Caravan, though 66 percent of consumers “fell we will continue to need to avoid crowds and close schools and businesses for two months or longer,” this number has decreased over the last week by 5 percent. Those surveyed by Caravan also showed an increase in missing lifestyle activities due to disruptions.

While “seeing family members” remains a high concern for respondents at 86 percent due to social distancing, “interactions outside the home” and “shopping for nonessential items” each saw a 3 percent increase respectively week over week as respondents miss normalcy. An additional 85 percent of respondents told the company they miss “going to restaurants, bars, etc.” and 87 percent miss “socialization activities for children.”

For More WWD Business News:

Coronavirus Crisis and the Hispanic Consumer

Questions of Recession, Consumer Spending and the Supply Chain

Crisis Management and the Coronavirus: Changes in Shopping Behavior’

WATCH: How Fashion Is Fighting the Coronavirus

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