Deloitte: three in five consumers have used more local stores and services to support them during lockdown

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Three in five (59%) consumers have used more local stores and services to help support them during the lockdown, according to new research from Deloitte Digital analysing the impact of the pandemic on customer experience.

In addition, 57% of consumers say they will be more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products once the lockdown has lifted than they would have done before the stay-at-home order was imposed.

Deloitte Digital’s research, analysing responses from 2,140 consumers aged 16 and over in Great Britain between 22 and 26 May 2020, found that one in five (20%) consumers have stopped using a business due to their response to COVID-19.

Those aged 16-24 are the most likely to have stopped using a brand due to its response to COVID-19. One in four (28%) consumers in this age group say they have stopped using a business for this reason, for instance that has refused to prioritise front-line workers or failed to ensure the safety of their employees.

Meanwhile, 19% of all respondents say they have started using a brand as a result of their response, such as a business that has prioritised front-line workers or quickly introduced measures to keep their employees safe.

Becky Skiles, partner and chief marketing officer at Deloitte Digital. said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged brands to demonstrate their commitment to upholding the health and wellbeing of both their staff and their customers, while continuing to deliver products and services as safely and seamlessly as possible. Those that have done this well are seeing real benefits in terms of customer loyalty. Younger consumers in particular are prepared to stand by the brands that demonstrate the positive impact they bring to society and abandon those who do not. For brands to build loyalty, the positive contribution they are bringing to employees and communities must be as clearly communicated as their product offering.”

Almost half of consumers are more likely to spend money at a business that supports local charities

According to Deloitte Digital’s research, 46% of consumers say they are more likely to spend money at a business that supports local charities, such as food banks, once the lockdown has lifted.

In comparison, 25% of consumers say they are more likely to spend money at a UK business with a large national presence and just 7% say they would be more likely to use a business that has a large global presence.

Overall, one in three (32%) consumers have used new brands, products or services that they had previously never heard of during the lockdown, while 19% say they have purchased a subscription service that they intend to keep up once restrictions have lifted.

Compared to before lockdown, 28% say that once social distancing measures have lifted they expect to spend less than they did before the stay-at-home order was introduced, with 10% expecting to spend significantly less. Seventeen per-cent say they will spend more, while around half (48%) think they will spend the same amount.

Deborah Womack, director in Deloitte Digital, commented: “Consumers may have begun shopping locally out of necessity rather than choice, however they are rediscovering their local shop as a place for human contact and personal service when they need it most. With people increasingly supporting their local area, businesses that have a strong understanding of the community will be the most likely to recover well and thrive in the coming months.”

Three in five will spend more money with brands that ensure the safety and well-being of their employees

Deloitte Digital’s research highlights that 62% of consumers are more likely to spend money at a business that takes extra steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees once the majority of lockdown restrictions have lifted.

This comes as 23% of consumers say they are likely to shop in a business that uses fewer employers in stores and branches to limit contact with customers.

Just one in five (20%) say they would be more likely to use online-only stores once lockdown has lifted, with 41% of consumers saying they have found it difficult to access the goods or services they need online during the lockdown period.

Skiles concludes: “Many in-store employees have been assigned as key workers, providing communities with vital access to products and services, as well as face-to-face interactions, at a time when these have been in short supply. The contribution these employees bring to society is now clearer than ever before. To maintain the loyalty of customers, brands must ensure that they don’t take their workforce’s efforts for granted and demonstrate the care and concern they hold for their teams.”