Consumer survey finds brick-and-mortar making a comeback — with safety in mind

Eighty-four percent of consumers believe stores’ safety measures are important.

Men are helping to lead the resurgence of the IRL (in real life) shopping experience.

That’s according to 5WPR's third annual "Consumer Culture Report,"  in which more than half of the consumers surveyed said they now prefer to find new products in-store as opposed to online. These shopping preferences are especially predominant in consumers between the ages 25 and 34. Also, of those who responded, 56% of men prefer to find new products in-store compared to 48% of women.

“In-person shopping is not a dying trend as once believed, but consumers are expecting more from their visits and options at every stage, from exclusive in-store offerings to events and activations,” the report stated.

The study also found that the top three elements that inspire in-store shopping are: in-store experiences, sales staff support and advice, and an activity to share with friends. Also, 84% of consumers said that retail outlets’ safety measures are important, compared to just 16% who claimed this didn’t really bother them.

“Consumers’ expectations around safety and sanitization are here to stay,” the report advised. “What once seemed like a short-term initiative has now been fully adopted into our lives. Resist the urge to scale back on safety measures as the pandemic marches on.”

Looking nationwide, it appears that Houston may have the strongest pull to get consumers through storefront doors—70.5% of respondents living in the surrounding metropolitan area prefer finding new products in-store, the highest rate of any city in the country. The city is home to the biggest mall in Texas, The Galleria, which has more than 400 stores.

Other findings from the survey are below.

• Sixty-one percent of consumers are more likely to shop from an e-commerce site offering same-day shipping.

• While it’s on the rise, shoppable social media content isn’t yet for everyone. 62% of women and 51% of men would not purchase through a social platform.

• Of the 32% of consumers who take advantage of installment paying options, 62% are inclined to purchase luxury goods or services using this method.

• Some 42% of respondents said they enjoy seeing their favorite brands on gaming platforms; more than a fifth (21%) have made virtual purchases via these platforms.

For consumers, purchase timing is more important than buying location. More than half (58%) said knowing when they need something is their most important purchase driver, compared to fewer than one in three (29%) for whom “where to shop” is the key motivator.

Take-aways from the report include:

• Game On. Understanding how and where younger consumers
are discovering and consuming brands is the key to a long-term marketing and retail plan. Future generations will soon expect their favorite brands to meet them on the gaming platforms where they already are.

• A More Inclusive Luxury. No longer reserved for the few, flexible no-interest payment plan options have made what was once unattainable, completely possible for more consumers.

• Values Over Value. Consumers seeking price value while shopping, have been replaced by consumers demanding values and actions that are in line with themselves. Transparent and honest corporate communications will keep consumers coming back.

• Customer Service Comeback. A mostly unaided online shopping environment has left many consumers yearning for more personalized guidance and advice. From AI-advice options to skilled in-store salespeople, customer service is back.

"When we see who prefers shopping in-store, it's important to understand what it is, specifically, they might be shopping for,” said Dara Busch, co-CEO, 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. 

For example, Busch added, consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 might be purchasing furniture for a new house or apartment, and that's something that many prefer to see and feel in person before making the purchase.

"Knowing what target demographics are shopping for in-store and why, can help brick-and-mortar locations build an in-store experience and/or window display that draws the customer in,” Busch said.

The research for 5W’s 2022 Consumer Culture Report was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,002 respondents aged 16+ across the USA between 11.18.21 and 11.22.21. The survey was conducted from a nationally representative of American adults.

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