Over half (52%) of UK shoppers had enough of shopping online with 32% having missed human interaction during lockdown, and are ready to spend £20bn this summer as demand for “human touch” peaks, according to new research.
The research from HubSpot, a customer relationship management platform, also revealed that:
• 21% of UK consumers are planning to spend more this summer than they did pre-pandemic • 52% say they’ve had enough of shopping online – as 32% report having missed human interactions when shopping online during the lockdown • Engaging directly with a person is key to the rebound, 16% of sales are currently being lost as consumers abandon purchases if they can’t speak to someone about their questions before they buy
The study revealed that almost half (46%) of UK consumers say they are prepared to up their monthly expenditure to prioritise seeing people and making up for lost time. Almost a third (32%) say they are prepared to cut back on other things to enjoy the new freedoms over the summer, while (32%) say they’ve saved money during the pandemic and have more to spend.
These findings reveal the widespread impact that self-isolation has had on consumer attitudes. After a year in which they have been denied in-person interactions due to lockdown restrictions, 52% want to shop in person again compared to 22% who would rather keep brand interactions while shopping virtual. 28% of UK consumers are expecting to spend the most money indulging in some retail therapy, with 32% reporting that they have missed human interaction while shopping online during lockdown.
Where they are planning to spend is also varied, offering a much-needed boost to the UK economy this summer: when asked what they would spend their money on, the highest proportion (33%) of UK consumers said they are planning on spending their money dining out, while the second and third most-popular choices were a break to the seaside (20%) and sporting and music events (15%).
Help with a human touch
UK consumers are making buying decisions depending on whether they can speak to a real person if they have a question. 30% stated this to be an important factor when deciding which brand to buy from. In fact, businesses risk losing 16% of sales if they don’t provide the opportunity for customers to speak to someone about their questions before they buy.
When asked what makes a brand appear to have more of a ‘human touch’, 52% say friendly staff, 42% agreed that it’s having staff that are easy to get hold of, while 19% say this is down to brands having a human story around how the business was founded.
Beyond quality (57%), consumers also stated human values like honesty / integrity (46%) and trust (41%) to be important brand values in a company they wish to engage with.
Striking the right balance
To ensure success and realise the spending potential this summer, brands will need to be mindful about reading the room when it comes to the type of experience consumers are willing to accept. While 82% are comfortable with one-to-one interaction, worries about physical contact and large groups remain. 59% of consumers say they’ll be more cautious about physical touch of any form than pre-pandemic, while 49% say they feel uncomfortable engaging in activities that involve groups of more than 7 people and 29% are uncomfortable in groups of up to 6.
Large events are still off the table for a majority of UK consumers with 72% uncomfortable engaging in activities that involve groups of 51-200 people and 74% unwilling to go to large scale events with over a thousand attendees.
These results show that brands will need to pay close attention to what their customers feel comfortable with. At least initially, brands need to focus on smaller, personal interactions and keep large events on ice.
Christian Kinnear, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, EMEA, HubSpot:
“It is clear that UK consumers are ready and raring to not only get back to normal life, but to make up for lost time with friends and family, getting away on holiday or engaging in some well earned retail therapy.
“Key to this rebound will be ensuring consumers have the ability to engage with a brand in a human way. While the pandemic forced everyone online, the re-opening will be about balancing digital services with the human touch we’ve all been craving. Businesses should not underestimate the value of their customer service teams and sales people in helping them make the most of the summer spending boom. Now is not the time to cut back on a businesses’ finest asset – its people.”
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