Research: Customers take social issues into account before buying

Consumer behaviours have changed a lot over the course of 2020 as COVID-19 has reshaped our lives. In the new normal, the majority of consumers will take social issues into account before making any purchases, while brands are advised to deliver clear messages and correct information to engage customers, according to research conducted by Madbox.

The "Gen-Real Insights Report" was conducted in mid-2020 with 150 local consumers being surveyed. The first part of the research examined the respondents' behaviours and their considerations before making any purchases. In H1 2020, the respondents took quality (72%), practicality (72%) and the origin (69%) of products into consideration. However, they focused more on quality (80%) and practicality (77%) in H2, while their preference over the origin (63%) of products had dropped. 

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Unsurprisingly, online shopping and social media have become a new normal amid the pandemic. However, in H1 2020, 74% of respondents believed that online shopping was a trend, but only 39% of them agreed with that statement in H2, as they hoped to get away from tying their everyday lives to takeaways and social distancing measures. 

Respondents also went for social media to obtain information (Facebook 90%; Instagram 73%; and YouTube 65%). Apart from these platforms, they also proactively looked for information or made consumption decisions based on first-hand observation. Compared with print media, online media (41%) was more popular among consumers when it comes to obtaining information.

As for information consumption, news became the most consumed information during the pandemic. Travel news was out of mind in H1 but more than half of the respondents began to seek out travel information in H2. 

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Word-of-mouth was a key driver behind consumption decisions. In H1 2020, 57% of respondents relied on word-of-mouth before making decisions to buy, but that dropped to 52% in H2. The same situation applied to pre-purchase research. In H1, 54% of respondents said they would conduct such research, but only 45% would do in H2.

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Although discounts can help attract customers, customers still preferred quality (from 72% in H1 to 80% to H2) to prices (from 72% in H1 to 80% to H2)  and promotions (from 47% in H1 to 45% to H2). Madbox advised that brands had to find a way to demonstrate value over simply offering discounts to woo potential buyers. 

Meanwhile, 58% of respondents said they read the news for social issues, implying consumers’ decisions were strongly impacted by what they had seen in their everyday lives. Also, 56% admitted that social issues were one of the dominant factors that they would take into account before purchasing. 

The research has also examined what respondents would do after the pandemic. 76% said they would travel, while 43% would reunite with friends. 37% said they had hoped to exercise. 

As for behavioural changes, 63% of them would now care more about product information, while 58% focused more on brand belief. 

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As a response to the data, Madbox has suggested that brands need to deliver clear, uncomplicated and correct information to engage customers. Apart from these, brands could also leverage new forms of communication strategies to talk and interact with consumers with measurable conversion and performance.