There is no doubt that consumer behaviours have changed during the pandemic. However, if you’re a marketer or a retailer looking to engage your audience online, how do you know which of these is going to be a long-term shift? New research – plus fresh insights from Google – is now shedding light on the ways in which the habits of digital consumers are likely to change for the long term.

All generations are now online

Yes, younger shoppers are still the most likely to buy online but there has been a consistent move to online purchasing across all generations. In fact, the biggest increase in online activity is in shoppers aged 35+. Reaching older shoppers now requires a strategy that focuses on the physical store in the context of how it can complement the digital version.

The shift to online is permanent

Although many consumers ventured into online territory for the first time during the pandemic there is no indication that these same customers are likely to give this up now that lockdowns etc have been lifted. The number of people who say that they will continue to shop online is substantially higher than before the pandemic – in the fashion sector, for example, there has been an increase of 28%. The new habits many consumers have got into online mean that it’s time for brands to focus on smart campaigns that target customers online, cut through the competitive noise and integrate tools such as automation for greater efficiency.

We have all begun to value the online shopping experience

One of the reasons the shift to online is permanent is because the benefits of this are now obvious. Many people may have begun to shop online because of the pandemic but that’s not why they will continue to do so. Convenience remains a big factor in the choice to shop online, across all ages of shoppers. Other factors include that it is easier to find specific products online, there are often price benefits to digital purchasing and it’s very easy to get products delivered directly to the doorstep. This, combined with increased uncertainty over COVID-19, is going to embed online shopping in digital behaviours and require brands to ensure a consistent and flawless online presence that includes a mobile experience.

New brand loyalties have been established

This is a direct result of the move to online shopping and consumers discovering brands as a result of digital purchasing. It is supported by a wealth of online research that shows consumers are increasingly keen to explore their options online. The number of generic searches, such as “best electric car’ has risen significantly, for example, indicating that consumers are less decided now when digital purchasing. This makes it essential for brands to be seen where customers are likely to be most present.

A physical store fits within an omnichannel experience

In-person retail still appeals but in combination with digital. Younger shoppers especially are looking for a more hybrid approach from brands keen to capture their business. This may require a strategic rethink of how to use in-store experiences and the different touchpoints, such as inspiration and discovery.

Digital consumer habits are changing and these are some of the most important shifts to note. Iconic Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency in London focused on transforming growth forecasts for clients from mediocre to majestic. To find out more about Iconic Digital’s award-winning digital marketing services get in contact today on 020 7100 0726.