COVID-19 has changed how consumers shop online. Here’s what you should do about it.

There’s no denying the impact COVID-19 has had on our world. It’s changed the way we shop, interact, work, and exist in society.

Our partners at Stellar Reviews surveyed a group of almost 3,000 millennial consumers on how COVID-19 has affected their spending habits, outlook toward retail company communication, and overall consumer mindset.

Here are three key takeaways:

1. Everyday stress centers around health and finances

As you may expect in the wake of a global pandemic and the resulting shaky economy, the survey respondents’ top two concerns are parents’ and kids’ health followed by their long-term finances.

Almost a third of respondents have had their income cut in the last few weeks and therefore don’t feel very confident of their family’s financial stability.

To add to their worries, 12% have a friend with COVID-19, 6% have a family member with COVID-19, and 5% believe they themselves have COVID-19 but have not been tested yet.

Pin-pointed fears relate to health and finances, but general anxiety is creeping upwards as the weeks progress.

2. People continue to shop, but focus on the essentials

Spending has shifted toward the essentials; groceries and cleaning products top the list of items that folks are spending more on.

And with 93% of respondents having had school canceled and 78% under lockdown, they reported an increase in arts and crafts spending (most likely due to being forced to stay inside and keep the kids occupied).

As Amazon’s delivery speed for non-essentials has slowed in the last few weeks, almost half of respondents shared that they have moved away from the online behemoth and are buying directly from brands, looking at other online outlets, or shopping at local businesses with buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) or speedier delivery.

3. Brand communications need to make people feel, “We’re in this together »

Consumers are still recovering from the email fatigue after receiving an “our response to COVID-19” message from every company that has them on their mailing list. With your follow-up communications, if you aren’t careful about being genuine, your brand message may be tarnished.

While consumer routines are in an overall state of disarray, they are mostly looking for direct and honest communications. That being said, don’t shy away from encouraging and uplifting words right now. Consumers take special note of brands that offer discounted or free services right now to ease the pain.

Embrace non-email channels for marketing and general communications – social media and your website can be just as powerful!

So, what to do next?

Remember that your shoppers are going through the same things that you and your employees are right now.

Think about ways you can help them cope with the stress and uncertainty and let them know you are here for them. Send them a genuine message and you will win their trust and maintain their loyalty in the long term.

Note: if you are interested in answering a specific question for your brand, feel free to reach out to me at heidi@turnto.com and we can help you incorporate that into Stellar’s research.