A major consequence of the past year, for many of us, has been the strong emotional reaction to its uncertainty: shock, stress, fear, anxiety. Public health mandates that have been necessary to reduce the spread, like social distancing, have left consumers feeling less in control in all aspects of their lives — living, working, shopping, dining. As we return to some semblance of our normal routines, brands have a responsibility to recognize this continued anxiety and help consumers to not only cope, but to feel a renewed sense of agency over their physical and emotional well-being in-store.
of consumers feel less in control of their social lives, work lives, dining, and shopping experiences compared to before COVID-19Source — Re:Mix, Thought Leadership Series, Q1 2021
In the context of psychology, “control” generally refers to how a person regulates themselves or wishes to regulate their environment. One of the biggest weaknesses of physical retail this past year has been consumers’ feeling of powerlessness over their own well-being while shopping. As of March 2021, only 39% strongly agree they felt safe on their last trip to a physical store or restaurant — a percentage which has decreased from 49% in December and which indicates a continued lack of confidence in the safety and service standards put in place by brands.
of consumers feel it’s important to have a sense of control over the shopping experiences they have in-storeSource — Re:Mix, Thought Leadership Series, Q1 2021
2020 brought on a tectonic shift in the way we buy and receive goods. The phrases “contactless delivery” and “curbside pick-up”, for example, are now part of our global lexicon. But that doesn’t mean consumers have mastered these new fulfillment types… and any confusion around where to go, what to do, or what to expect can compromise the control they so desperately crave. Brands should help them feel clear on what to expect at every step of their journey, especially when it requires them to go to the store or restaurant. In fact, 76% say they go to physical retail because they know exactly what to expect.
of consumers say they go to physical stores or restaurants because they know exactly what to expect from the experienceSource — Re:Mix, Thought Leadership Series, Q1 2021
Going into last year’s holiday season, half of consumers in our October Pulse survey said they planned to start shopping earlier out of concern for availability — after months of product scarcity being a very real threat. Enter 2021, where they now feel empowered by choice… able to get what they want, when they want it, and by whatever means necessary. But consumers are still choosing to go to physical retail — for not only the enjoyment of picking out products in person, but for the immediacy that cannot be replicated online. Brands must solve for anything that interferes with this perception of not only choice, but speed.