Australian consumers support local retailers following COVID-19 pandemic
New data highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic changed how Australian consumers shop and buy.
A new study by Freshworks titled 'The Post COVID-19 Consumer' surveyed 1,000 Australians and compared their responses to 10,500 consumers globally, in an effort to understand the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behaviour.
The researchers state the pandemic has permanently altered the behaviour of Australians, and in many ways brought out the best in the nation’s shoppers.
Following the height of the pandemic, 93% of Australians are planning to continue favouring companies that treat workers fairly and safely, and 80% are giving larger or more frequent tips.
In addition, 78% will continue to spend money they normally wouldn't to support workers and struggling businesses. Also, the overwhelming majority (97%) of those that shifted to shopping locally, are seeking to maintain this behaviour.
The support of local and smaller retailers also mirrors how Australians felt smaller businesses responded to the pandemic. For example, 44% believe small businesses got better at customer service versus 13% saying worse and 43% saying no change.
The reason being that these businesses offered a more personal level of service and the option of delivery services. Whereas for large businesses, only 25% say they got better at delivering good customer service and 24% said they got worse - 51% saw no change.
The survey also found that despite the global shift towards ecommerce, Australians may never go completely 'all-in' with online shopping.
Although 43% will now continue to interact with brands digitally, compared to the global average of 48%, only 32% of Australians moved to shopping online during the pandemic.
Instead, Australians want to return to shopping in person, so they can see products in real-life (38%) and maintain human connections (33%).
The report also highlights that the pandemic has taught Australians to be patient. In fact, 80% will be patient with brands offering slow customer service or fulfilment, and only 23% want a chance to speak to the manager after a bad brand experience.
When trying to get better customer service, 65% see being rude or threatening to leave as unethical, and when it comes to brands 56% are not in favour of cancel culture.
Freshworks Australia general manager Sreelesh Pillai says “Australians have always sought to support local, however, we’ve seen the pandemic further entrench this behaviour.
"This stands alongside an “all in this together” attitude, where we’re seeing consumers support businesses that have perhaps struggled in the past 12 months.
"As expected, online shopping has become more popular but not to the extent that we’ve witnessed in other markets, again this highlights the Australian preference for supporting smaller, local retailers."
Pillai adds, “For retailers looking to win the hearts and minds of Australian consumers, the message is simple: offer an experience that is personalised and meets their needs while treating your own staff well.
"Australians want to do business with brands that support the local community and are inherently seen as decent.”