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Survey: COVID-19 causes long-term shifts in consumer preferences

Customers have been more likely to frequent local businesses that offer omnichannel services during COVID-19, and will continue doing so post-pandemic.

According to the “The State of Local Business,” a new consumer survey from customer messaging platform Podium, 84% of respondents have used omnichannel services like curbside pickup, local food and grocery delivery, and/or contactless payments since COVID-19.

Furthermore, 57% of respondents say a local business’ offering of these types of services during the pandemic led them to purchase goods or services from that business for the first time. And 53% say a local business’ failure to offer pandemic-friendly omnichannel services has led them to seek out and work with/purchase from a competitor, or discontinue patronage altogether.

Interestingly, only 50% of respondents cited price as a top factor for choosing a local business, compared to 78% who did in 2019. This represents a significant decline of 56%.  

The survey also examined respondent preferences for making a payment at a local business. Six in 10 (61%) respondents prefer a traditional payment option of either credit card reader (43%) or cash (18%). Three in 10 prefer a mobile payment option, including text (11%), Apple Pay (10%), and Venmo (9%).

Looking ahead to the post-pandemic retail environment, the survey finds that 89% of respondents say they are likely to return to businesses they first visited because of pandemic-friendly services, even after COVID-19 restrictions lift. Conversely, 70% of respondents who had an unpleasant customer experience during the pandemic say they are less likely to purchase goods or services from that business in the future.

In addition, 85% of respondents expect local businesses to offer more convenient communication and services now than they did prior to COVID-19, with two-thirds saying texting makes working with a local business more convenient.

Podium surveyed 1,000 consumers across the U.S., ages 18-75.

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