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Consumer Preferences Will Stay Closer to Home Post-Pandemic

National  + Weekender  | 

The continuing discomfort with public spaces and travel, coupled with growing financial fears amid widespread decline in household income, will continue to keep people mostly at home, according to findings of a recent global survey from Accenture. The findings, which Accenture is presenting in two separate reports, prompt the conclusion that retailers and consumer goods companies are being forced to tailor products and services to a more local experience.

Among the survey’s key findings:

• 69% of respondents expect to do most of their socializing over the next six months either in their home, a friend’s home or virtually.
• 53% of people who never worked from home previously now plan to work from home more often in the future.
• 56% of consumers said the pandemic has caused them to shop in closer neighborhood stores. 79% of those respondents said they plan to continue to do so long-term.
• 56% of consumers said they’re buying more locally sourced products, with 84% of those saying they plan to continue to do so long-term.
• 50% of respondents cited financial security as one of their top three concerns over the next six months.
• 54% said they’re shopping more cost-consciously and are likely to continue doing so — with consumers overall far more likely to have increased purchases of mid-range and budget brands and reduced purchases of premium brands since the pandemic began.
• Simultaneously, 12% of consumers said they have increased premium purchases, with 57% of those falling outside the high-income bracket.

“Home is now the new frontier — it’s become the workplace, the schoolroom, the place to try new hobbies, the place to socialize and a safe sanctuary — so companies must account for this reality,” said Oliver Wright, managing director and head of Accenture’s global consumer goods practice. “They’ll need to think beyond traditional tactics and be more creative, providing premium or virtual experiences and tailoring their portfolios to engage consumers.”

Wright said the beverage and spirits industry has already begun adopting this principle. For example, Carlsberg has launched its “adopt a keg” campaign, and one London brewery is offering “a ‘pub in a box’ to local customers, hand-delivered by musicians who’ve had their tours cancelled.”

Accenture notes that some brands are reaping the rewards of adjusting their services to meet the shift in consumer demands by, for example, launching a new shopping experience to connect U.S. consumers with local businesses by allowing them to shop by region and by state. Yet, it cautions that taking advantage of these opportunities will require ongoing and careful analysis to anticipate which of these new consumer behaviors will stick, then adapting portfolios and financial models accordingly.

“In addition to making consumers comfortable re-engaging outside the home through strict health and safety measures, retailers should carefully assess their physical assets — i.e., which stores to keep open and what inventory to stock, taking into account, for example, whether and when schools reopen. They might also experiment with temporary spaces, such as pop-ups in local communities,” said Accenture’s Jill Standish.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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