Potential Impacts of Online Shopping to Brand Health

Back in April, at the height of COVID-19 in New Jersey, I was desperately trying to find a way to purchase groceries and other necessities, especially with certain products and brands being sold out. At that point, I didn’t care what brand, I just needed to grab what was available. On top of this, I wasn’t willing to risk my family’s health or mine. So, I tried online shopping with curbside pickup for the first time.

I must admit, I was not impressed because half my list wasn’t available! The disappointment settled in, along with the anxiety of desperately needing items. That’s when reality kicked in. I was no longer concerned about my favorite brand. I was more concerned with simply acquiring the item. This allowed me to try different brands, whether they be name brands or the store brand. As time went by, the online shopping experience did get better as brands were able to supply their products. However, the damage was already done, as my loyalty to old brands no longer mattered. I had tried and actually loved other brands.

Just how much can you relate to my struggle?

What about consumers across the U.S.? Do they relate as well? Has the pandemic re-set the playing field as it relates to brand loyalty?

As per ENGINE’s COVID-19 CARAVAN poll among 1,000 U.S. consumers, around 40% of consumers are not willing to shop in-store within the next week. In another study by McKinsey, also among U.S. consumers, online grocery shopping is expected to grow around 40% after COVID-19. [1] This means brands must be creative and work with suppliers on how to advertise their product to not only reach their current consumer base but to attract new consumers that are buying online.

Of further concern is brand loyalty. Because brands were sold out during the pandemic, this has caused consumers to try new brands and has introduced the possibility for consumers to become less loyal. According to McKinsey, 36% of consumers have tried a new brand during the pandemic, with 73% of those intending to continue with the new brand. [1] It will be very important that brands ensure their products are available, attractive, and easy to purchase online in order to limit the number of brand switchers.

With both online shopping expected to grow and the fact there are consumers who are less loyal, it is more important than ever for brands to be more creative with their advertising and ensure their products are available to not only maintain their consumers but grow in today’s environment.

If you are questioning how your brand is performing and need insight into your brand’s health, or help identifying, targeting, and activating against digital audiences, please reach out to us at ENGINE Insights. We have multiple tools at our fingertips to fit small to large budgets, along with agile tools to quickly turnaround results.

Written by Tammy Guevara, Director Research Excellence, ENGINE Insights.

1. Charm, Tamara, et al. “The great consumer shift: Ten Charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing” McKinsey. August 2020.