Boston Consulting Group and Snapchat have teamed up to publish a new report into how Gen Z consumers are responding to COVID-19, and what that might mean for future digital behaviors.
The report, which incorporates the responses of over 9,500 consumers aged 16+ in the US, UK, Canada and France, looks at the key behaviors which have seen significant increases amid the lockdowns, and which are likely to hold, at least to some degree, based on BCG's predictive methodology.
Here's what they found:
First, the report notes the massive behavioral shifts causes by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed almost everything about our day-to-day lives. That, the report notes, has impacted Gen Z consumers most significantly:
"In many cases, Gen Z and millennial consumers have altered their behaviors and spending more dramatically than older generations have. And perhaps not surprisingly, given the impressionability of these younger consumers, they expect to stick to many of these newly developed patterns beyond the COVID-19 disruption."
For example, eCommerce has grown more in the past eight weeks than in the decade before that. Younger users, who have grown up with digital shopping options, are more readily adapting to this new normal, which, BCG predicts, will likely exacerbate the shift away from physical shopping.
As you can see in this (slightly confusing) graph, younger consumers are shifting their habits faster than their older counterparts.
"In terms of how they spend their dollars, Gen Z and millennials are leading the shift to eCommerce. Since the pandemic began, 33% of these consumers have increased their online spending, for a net increase of 6%, versus 23% of consumers in older generations, or a net increase of 1%. This acceleration of eCommerce is occurring on two fronts: a shift of existing products, services, and retailers to online, and a surge in digital-only or digital-first products, services, and retailers."
Of course, this is all as you would expect - people can't go out and visit stores so they're buying more online, they're spending more time on digital platforms. The bigger question is whether these trends will hold once the lockdowns are over.
BCG has its own 'New Normal Predictors' methodology to estimate this:
"According to our research and NNP methodology, Gen Z and millennials will at least partially sustain the increase in the time they are spending on digital media, registering the clearest gains in streaming video and gaming."
And more than just entertainment, BCG predicts that Gen Z shopping activity will be impacted in several key areas.
"A net of 10% of consumers expect to increase their spending on packaged food and beverages, 12% on household products, and 6% on health and personal care products, compared with their pre-outbreak spending. Consumers expect to offset these increases by reducing their spending in discretionary categories such as alcohol (a net 8% decline) and by delaying purchases of high-ticket items such as electronics, mobile devices, and cars and motorcycles (with a net of approximately 20% of consumers indicating that they would delay spending on each of these categories)."
Those are some interesting considerations for marketers to note, with consumer attention shifting as a result of the pandemic. These trends, coupled with the rise of eCommerce, point to some important planning considerations for the future - including future outreach methods:
BCG also notes that online marketplaces are expected to be winners with Gen Z and millennials in the 'new normal', with an increase of 16% in comparison with the period before COVID-19. That will come at the expanse of physical stores, with department store chains set to lose the most to online alternatives.
Of course, these are based on predictions, but it's logical that the COVID-19 lockdowns are going to lead to a range of consumer shifts, with people finding out, for example, how convenient online shopping can be, how they can save money through such, and entertainment alternatives that, within a few months, become habitual.
Even if you don't agree with the full findings here, it's worth considering what the next stage of consumption will be, and how that will impact your approach. At least some of these trends will hold, which could have a significant impact on your planning.
You can read the full "How Marketers Can Win with Gen Z and Millennials Post-COVID-19" report here.