CACI reveals new long term consumer trends

CACI, the consumer and location intelligence specialist, has identified five key trends revealing how consumer behaviour is likely to change as the government prepares to announce its recovery roadmap.  According to CACI’s latest research, consumers have jumped forward five years in two weeks, creating a turning point likely to change consumer behaviour forever.

As the UK looks to surface from lockdown, new habits formed over the last two months look likely to become part of the ‘consumer psyche’, leading to five new trends that will impact how people live their lives, with implications for landlords and operators in all sectors:

  • Work: Working practices have changed forever, 35% of workers, typically those who are more affluent and aged between 35 and 54, expecting to increase the amount they work from home.  This has big implications on the role of city centres and also a resurgence of the local high street and suburbs, particularly in London and the South East.  More people present in the day means greater opportunity for community operators.
  • Online: Older shoppers have bridged the digital divide.  Prior to the pandemic, Millennials and Gen Z consumers saw far more multi-channel engagement.  The lockdown, however, has forced many previously reluctant groups to engage in online behaviours that they had resisted.  The impact is notable, with multi-channel shopping now embedded in all groups.  Older shoppers are also likely to continue social distancing post-lockdown, and will therefore increase their online spend, particularly with the brands they know and love already.
  • What stores look like: Over 75% of people will choose their brands and places on how safe they feel.  This has huge implications and suggests a more fundamental reworking of space than tape on the floor and screens at tills.  Cash will be largely dead as consumers and brands seek to minimise contact.  Retailers can expect more self-service, larger aisles, greater use of click & collect, and showrooming ahead of consumers making online purchases.  Destinations will need to demonstrate they are monitoring capacity and policing behaviour, as well as having visible measures in place, such as one-way systems, sanitisers, and staff welfare.  The older the shopper, the more important this is.
  • People will value family and community more: There is an expectation that how far you travel will decrease for everything except visiting family and friends.  This means a tighter network and greater engagement with those locations and brands that are part of your immediate sphere.  The expected return to local high streets and the value placed on brands that are socially responsible will lend itself to a resurgence in valuing community.
  • Value and sustainability will dominate: Despite the huge investment in protecting the economy, all groups consider value for money to be top priority above all else when engaging with a brand.  This is true in all demographics and reflects that pay cuts and furlough have been most common amongst those who are typically the highest earners: the more affluent and those in London and the South East.  One quarter of shoppers expect their personal finances to suffer as a result of the pandemic.

Commenting on the research, Alex McCulloch, Director of CACI Location Planning Group, said: “As the lockdown lifts we will find ourselves in a new world, where consumers expect brands to put value and safety first, where stores become both more local, and more alike to showrooms, and ultimately where the physical location of the transaction becomes less relevant.  This is a world where people will be more engaged with the local high street and community, but also a more polarised one between young people living in urban environments and seeking to re-engage, and older shoppers who are more fearful of the future and seeking safety and reassurance.”

CACI undertook a UK representative survey of 1,000 adults across April 30th and May 1st using their research partner ResearchBods, this data has been analysed using CACI datasets such as Acorn.  The post-lockdown survey research is the latest in a series of industry insights published by CACI, as it works with landlords, retailers and leisure operators to help them better understand changing consumer behaviour.

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