5 Ways Consumer Behavior is Changing in the United States Forever

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is in a recession and everyday Americans are going about their daily lives in ways no one could have anticipated at the start of the year (working from home, virtual happy hours, etc.). Some of these changes are temporary (e.g. masks), but some are going to last. Here are the 5 ways consumer behavior is changing in the United States forever.

Way #1 — People are relying less on brick and mortar

The novel coronavirus is forcing Americans to spend more of their dollars shopping online—a trend Zeta expects will continue long after a vaccine is discovered. The convenience of ecommerce—coupled with its increased product selection and (typically) lower price points for products—will make it the preferred mode of shopping for Americans in the years ahead. The transition will be especially noticeable within certain sectors of the broader retail industry like groceries, home goods, and personal-care products.

Way #2 — Reliability is supplanting price shopping

Americans will always love a deal, but it’s becoming apparent they love reliability even more.  Supply chain disruptions early on in the pandemic (remember the run on toilet paper?) left a lasting impression on shoppers. Going forward, Americans will care less paying the cheapest price possible for the products they need. Instead they’ll care more about knowing where they can turn to get the products they need without fail

Way #3 — Drop-in shopping is becoming a thing of the past

Out-of-home movement will struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels, which means spontaneous, brick-and-mortar shopping (e.g. when a group of friends walking in a commercial area decide to pop into a store and do some shopping) will become less common going forward. The growth of ecommerce, the expansion of mobile technology (e.g. 5G), and the lingering memory of the pandemic will keep people away from popular shopping districts (e.g.  Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive). This decline will be amplified by the impact of the economic recession, and consumer’s decreasing willingness to engage in nonessential or unplanned spending. 

Way #4 — Dine-in dining is dwindling

Few industries have been as wounded as the restaurant business thanks to COVID-19. A smaller supply of dining options (thousands of eateries are out of business across America), plus consumer unwillingness to sit indoors and in close proximity to strangers, will hurt dine-in restaurants for years to come.

Way #5 — People are staying away from out-of-home entertainment

COVID-19 is acting like a lightning rod for in-home entertainment. Consumers are no longer interested in waiting in long lines, sitting next to total strangers, or dealing with surging crowds. Shelter-in-place orders and social distancing mandates are keeping people away from all kinds of entertainment venues—movie theaters, casinos, amusement parks, and more. 

How else is consumer behavior changing in the United States?

There are many more ways in which consumer behavior is changing in the United States. To see the latest trends regarding consumer behavior, visit the Zeta data trends page for live updates.


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