My changing consumer habits amidst the quarantine

When self-quarantining became a true reality with stores shutting down everywhere, it’s not surprising that my first thoughts on this change revolved around how consumer behaviors were also going to drastically change. There are plenty of people working on studying these changes, but I thought it would be interesting to write about my own personal experience with adjustments to my normal shopping habits. Here are 5 changes to my normal consumer behavior profile:

  1. Curbside grocery pickup. I have been utilizing grocery pickup at Target for about 6 months, but was not relying on it, using it mostly when the temperature was less than 0 in Minneapolis. Now, I am using curbside pickup wherever I can, which for my location in Minneapolis means Target and Cub have been my saviors. Walking through the stores felt panicked and almost dangerous because of how many people touched things, so I started to rely on these curbside pickups. Cub has a significant advantage in that you can purchase produce and frozen foods, but I was let down one day by my order getting canceled right before I was supposed to pick it up. I don’t blame them, though, with how crazy the world has been. Being able to pick up produce was important enough for me to let it slide. An Amazon Go location in Minneapolis seems like a great idea right now.
  2. Getting into health and wellness products. I live an active lifestyle and try to eat as clean as I can, but I have never been a consumer of standard health and wellness products under the belief that I don’t need them. Lone behold, I have now purchased not one, but three, new vitamins that I’ll most likely buy again each month now. I also now have 100 packs of Emergen-C. Overall, these purchases are really out of character for me, yet I think that I’ll continue making them just to be on the safe side of life going forward.
  3. I am doing a lot of online shopping. This is obvious for most people, but I went from having one shopping cart opened in a tab to about nine that I will probably abandon at some point. Almost every retailer has some kind of sale going on, which means that I am actively hunting for the best deals and am digging deep into my sources to get as much information about the things that I am considering buying as possible. This means that the retailers that don’t have the best prices or don’t have the best product listings (details, pictures, my size in stock, etc.) are not getting my business.
  4. I’m paying attention to all of the promotional emails that I get. There comes a point when you get so many promotional emails that you stop paying attention to them. Due to boredom, I have now started to pay attention to all of the things that pop up in my inbox each day. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with all of the brands that have “picked items just for me,” but have been pretty disappointed with those products often being out of stock in my size. It happens, but I enjoy the false feeling of a brand truly caring about me and wanting to interact with me.
  5. I downloaded TikTok specifically to see the content that popular brands create. I’ve been incredibly hesitant to download TikTok, but in a period where I have more free time than I’ll probably ever have in my life, I figured I’d might as well. Brands on TikTok are doing a really great job with content targeted toward the Gen Z audience, I just find that it does not put me over the edge of wanting to make a purchase. I still prefer watching Youtube videos of people trying on different products or reviewing different products with the brands that I love. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the live content that many brands are putting up on Instagram Live or IGTV, such as Levi’s series of concerts, product drops from independent designers, or videos of styling products from different brands. I love connecting with my favorite brands via social media, but at the end of the day, I want a pretty technical video of a product before I purchase it (think Topo Designs videos on Youtube showcasing all of the features of their products).

I’m interested to see how my behaviors will continue to change and I am anxiously awaiting for the overall impact his will have on physical retail.

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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