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December 3, 2020

New Impulse Shopping Behaviors Spike in 2020

David Brashears

New Impulse Shopping Behaviors Spike in 2020 graphic.

eCommerce has enjoyed a steady increase over the past ten years, but things jumped exponentially in 2020 with the need for social distancing and quarantine concerns leading a larger percentage of shoppers to depend on online retailers for both grocery, prepared foods, and essential household products.  One area that is quickly shifting to online purchases is those impulse/convenience items that were traditionally sought in brick and mortar convenience stores.

In a survey done by Nielsen in May of 2020*, there appeared to be a 27% increase in new online shoppers.  The survey showed that now more than two-thirds of shoppers are regularly turning to eCommerce platforms for their everyday products and shopping more frequently online as well.  44% of shoppers are now making purchases online on a weekly basis, while 23% are making multiple purchases online.

There are four major components that are driving consumers to use online retailers as their new primary source for products.

  1. Time savings
  2. Availability of products
  3. Practicality
  4. Value

The draw of online shopping has always depended on each of these aspects, but this year the expectations of buyers have grown.  There has also been a growing differentiation among customers from different generations.  Online shoppers from 20 to 34 years of age have become more demanding of quick delivery of products and have been more driven to expect same-day delivery or even delivery within an hour or two of purchase.  Older shoppers (65+) have enjoyed online retail for its convenience as well as quick delivery.

Impact on Impulse Purchases

With so much of modern shopper’s time being spent online to browse products, the convenience product segment has grown as a percentage.  Now many impulse purchases that would have been made at local convenience stores are now becoming part of the online experience.  After all, convenience has always depended on being the easiest way to grab a few gratifying products with the least impact on a person’s day-to-day life.  It has long found its success as part of the daily work commute experience.  Now, however, many professionals are working remotely and spending very little time in their cars.  So, convenience products are looking for new ways to capitalize on emerging buyer behaviors.  Both Unilever and Pepsi have launched new digital direct-to-customer (DTC) platforms in major markets to offer expedited delivery of product bundles from their impulse categories.

New Ideas to Leverage Digital Impulse Behavior

Retail brands are now looking for DTC opportunities to grow their sales.  In a 2017 report by iXtenso, more than half of the shoppers surveyed said they preferred to make purchases directly from brands over retailers.  That means that brand engagement with their customer base has never been more important.  It also means that many brands are having to adjust their model to account for the logistical challenges in providing small order, fast delivery, expectations to their customer base. 

It’s become more critical for major brands to understand their customer’s needs and provide either direct digital purchasing solutions or partner with proven online retail platforms to meet changing demands.  There are new tools and paths in the digital marketplace to make it easier than ever to provide an easier path to purchase impulse items that can be delivered within 24 hours.  Having a marketing and advertising partner that can guide you through these tools will be a huge benefit to early success.

Social media is now playing a huge role in brand communications with customers and offering direct buying advertising for impulse purchases within social media platforms.  This drive has led to many brands needing to expand their social media partnerships to cover customer service, online ordering coordination, as well as product and brand information.

Impulse products have long depended on easy access and low cost to successfully grow their business.  As many are looking to expand their path of purchase to online commerce, they are needing to consider the added cost of advertising and logistics to make their products attractive and viable for changing customer behavior. 

Having a quality digital brand messaging strategy developed with an agency with experience in the convenience retail market will be crucial to maximizing this new market.  Those impulse product brands that create an engaging, and relevant, promotion plan for the digital marketplace will likely enjoy a new segment of growth over the next few years as the market continues to evolve, and online convenience and delivery expedition continues to improve.  If you are in need of an agency partner that has been growing brand sales in the food, retail, and convenience marketplace for over 29 years, then Creative Energy is here to help.  Our low-pressure/high yield advertising and marketing strategies have helped us enjoy decades-long partnerships with top brands that have shown consistent year-over-year sales growth.  This new market opportunity is ready to be cultivated, let’s talk now!