Amid rising costs, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing supply chain disruptions, the holiday shopping season has come again, as it always does. But with more concern on consumers’ minds than ever, how can retailers be sure to earn the sales they need?
To better understand what consumers are looking for this year, Astound Commerce conducted a survey across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.K., the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. of 1,000 shoppers asking questions aimed at gauging consumer behavior evolution as well as sentiments around the economy, loyalty and the metaverse.
“With consumers feeling the pinch from rising fuel prices, a declining stock market and an unsettled economic outlook, getting the holiday season right is even more important,” said Vanessa Cartwright, chief executive officer, North America of Astound Commerce. “Retailers and brands need to look for opportunities to reduce friction in the shopping experience, use data (responsibly) to personalize the experience and look for opportunities to build loyalty — with fewer shoppers spending less, holding on to the ones you have is critical.”
In both North America (Canada, Mexico and the U.S.) and the Middle East (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.), loyalty was revealed as the top motivator for choosing a brand, while European shoppers (Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K.), who ranked loyalty as the most important factor last year, instead ranked lowest prices as the most important as they search for brands this holiday season.
Also among key findings in the report, the survey revealed nearly 3 in 4 global consumers feel the economy is headed in the wrong direction with most saying they are “no longer confident they can afford their monthly expenses.” As a result, consumers told the company they are altering spending habits and shopping less frequently than they have in previous years. Fifty-five percent of respondents say they shop online at least weekly, which is down from 61 percent reported in 2021.
At the same time, while a third of consumers said they plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year, about 40 percent of consumers said they will spend about the same amount. While shopping, consumers said they will do a mix of purchasing online and in-store with very few respondents saying they have any ongoing safety concerns.
Although safety concerns have gone down, the pandemic has made a lasting impact on consumer behaviors, including a preference for omnichannel shopping. Almost a third of global shoppers say they have adopted buy online, pick up in store and curbside pickup at the height of the pandemic and continue to select the option.
As found in similar reports, Astound Commerce’s survey revealed consumers are going to be price conscious and buy items on sale, use coupons or discounts and comparison-shop as they start shopping for the holidays. This holiday gift shopping is likely to start between two and six months ahead with early shoppers citing supply chain issues and limited stock.
“A change in consumer spending habits is expected, and brands must consider this change in behavior,” the authors said of the report. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that consumers want more from brands than just a low price.”
As they shop, consumers shared a growing interest in purchasing sustainable products and this was especially true in the apparel and home categories. Sixty-eight percent of global consumers said they are willing to pay more for a sustainable product with 65 percent saying they would even pay up to 20 percent more.
When asked about the metaverse, the majority of consumers reported they feel they have a basic understanding. However, while 51 percent said they are excited to explore, engage and shop with brands in the metaverse, 45 percent said they “don’t take the metaverse seriously.”
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