Consumer buying behaviour has changed during the COVID-19 crisis – some businesses also benefit from it
The use of social media has changed during the COVID-19 epidemic, and so has the use of different types of digital devices. These changes can be seen on the consumer’s path to purchase right from its start, for example in how people get impulses to buy. Digital buying has also changed, both in terms of the devices used and in terms of the products bought. Consumers have moved from buying clothing on digital platforms to buying electronics – both in physical stores and online. This report is based on data from an international consumer survey by Statista.
The COVID-19 crisis has changed interaction with social media in Finland, as well as the devices that Finns typically use to access the web. Remote working, remote learning and other restrictions on movement have reduced the use of mobile devices and laptop computers.
“Naturally, this is also mirrored in what devices are used for online shopping right now. Mobile devices are used less often for finding information and for making the purchase, but I do not expect that this is a permanent change. In other words, it is definitely not advisable for businesses to postpone developing their mobile channels because of this finding,” reminds Chief Economist of Finnish Commerce Federation, Jaana Kurjenoja.
As people have not travelled so much, events have been cancelled and going out for coffee has been on hold, there has been a notable decrease in interest towards social medial channels such as Facebook and Instagram. At the same time, use of Twitter and LinkedIn has increased. These channels are often used for professional networking, and the need for that has presumably grown as people continue to work remotely.
Low spirits among consumers are also reflected on international online fashion stores
The changes in interaction with social media can be observed right from the first steps of the consumer’s path to purchase. While in the beginning of the epidemic, 41% of Finns got inspiration to buying new products from social media channels, as the epidemic continued, the share dropped to one third. Only the brands’ own websites and video services, such as YouTube, have increased their significance in creating impulses to buy during the epidemic.
As the COVID-19 epidemic advanced, there was a strong drop in the Finnish consumers’ willingness to make purchases. This is particularly striking when compared to the Germans. In the early days of the epidemic 68% of Finns still indicated willingness to buy clothes, but this number had dropped in March and April to only 51%. At the same time in Germany the share of consumers wanting to buy clothes remained at a steady 73%.
“Finns’ cautiousness towards buying fashion can also be seen in the use of international online stores. The numbers of visitors have shrunk, for example, at zalando.fi and hm.com, which are among the most popular online stores in Finland,” Kurjenoja tells.
Staying at home more, meeting people less and working remotely have affected not only the fashion market but also the sales of cosmetic products. While in the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis almost two thirds of Finns regularly used skin care products, the share dropped to 41% after restrictions were imposed on movement. The share of regular users of hair care products went down from 56% to 39%, and the share of dental care product users went down from 93% to 84%. The biggest drop, however, was seen in make-up.
“When remote meetings are held without cameras, guests are not invited to homes, restaurants have been closed and constant photo updates are not posted on Instagram, there is less need to buy cosmetics. However, this is another change that is unlikely to last when Finns start going out and about again,” Kurjenoja says.
Electronics continue to sell
Consumer electronics is one of the few product groups in which Finns have become more interested in making purchases as the COVID-19 epidemic has progressed. Electronics stores are the only type of physical stores for specialty goods and household goods where Finns tell that they have visited more than before. This interest can also be observed in online purchases, and it is seen in those online stores that Finns commonly use. Major electronics online retailers and Amazon, which is a strong player in this category, have had more customers than before.
“Even though Finnish consumers have not been so eager to buy and the international competition in e-commerce has only increased, it is possible also for the Finnish digital stores to do well. For example, the number of visitors at Finnish motonet.fi has increased by more than half in a short time,” Kurjenoja points out.
Although some of the changes in consumers’ path to purchase will be temporary, some may also have more permanent consequences. Finnish Commerce Federation plans to follow up on this survey in the end of the year to see, for example, how interest in different product categories or the use of social media have continued to change.
The report analyses how consumers’ path to purchase has changed in Finland, Norway and Germany. The situation before restrictions were imposed for the COVID-19 epidemic is compared to the time immediately after the restrictions took effect. The consumer surveys were conducted by Statista, and the samples consisted of 7,282 residents of Finland, 2,480 residents of Norway and 12,539 residents of Germany, all between the ages of 18 and 64.
Attachment: Koronan vaikutus kuluttajan ostopolkuun Suomessa, Norjassa ja Saksassa / poimintoja (in Finnish)
Further information: Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. 040 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi