Pandemic Reshapes Consumer Diets and Food Shopping Habits

By Staff
Monday, March 8, 2021 3:30 PM The food and beverage industry is one of the industries that has been most impacted by the pandemic. Many consumers have changed their diets and shopping habits over the past year. For example, a McKinsey survey found that millennials are four times more likely to avoid buying products from big-name food brands than their parents are.

A recent analysis by Stella Rising found that since the onset of COVID-19, 29 percent of consumers report they have been stricter about healthy choices.

Loyalty Programs Are ‘More Important Than Ever,’ Analysis Finds

By Staff
Friday, March 5, 2021 1:48 PM NEW YORK—Offering a loyalty program is an effective way for retailers to acquire new customers, but it also fosters relationships for years to come. Setting up the framework, however, can be challenging—especially if retailers decide to handle everything in-house, according to a recent analysis by eMarketer.

“Last year, brands quickly discovered that loyalty was shifting as a result of the pandemic, because customers were shopping differently and had different needs,” Jeremy Goldman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, said in the report. “This suggests that loyalty programs are more important than ever, but they need to be omnichannel, especially as more people are switching to ecommerce from traditional retail.”

In October 2020, Clarus Commerce polled 300 U.S. marketing and loyalty professionals. Specifically, 70 percent of respondents were those who managed their loyalty programs in-house, while the remaining 30 percent used a loyalty program vendor. As a result, the responses skewed more toward the frustrations of working on loyalty programs from scratch. Still, across the board, even those who outsourced the work found setting up loyalty programs to be challenging.

The largest share of respondents (37 percent) said competing priorities was one of the biggest barriers to launching a loyalty program. At many companies, loyalty often falls under the larger marketing or customer experience silo, therefore it's possible that the development of a loyalty program could pull from the same budget and resources that may be used for other marketing efforts.

Pandemic Accelerates Shift to Online Retail

By Staff
Thursday, March 4, 2021 12:22 PM Over the past 20 years, e-commerce has steadily risen in size and reach. According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook, more than 260 million Americans will make an online purchase this year, but how big is e-commerce really in the grand scheme of things?

According to data regularly published by the U.S. Census Bureau, the impact of online shopping on total retail sales in the U.S. has long been smaller than many people might think. In 2019, e-commerce sales accounted for just 11 percent of total retail sales (excl. food services), which was the highest share on record—until the pandemic hit the U.S.

As the chart from shows, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated the ongoing shift to online retail. Faced with stay-at-home orders and store closures, millions of Americans resorted to shopping online, resulting in a 3-point jump in the online portion of total retail sales. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce sales amounted to $792 billion in 2020, which is equivalent to 14 percent of total retail sales. That's up from just 7.3 percent in 2015, illustrating the pace at which sales have moved online over the past few years and particularly in 2020.

More Americans Now Say Academic Concerns Should Be a Top Factor in Deciding to Reopen K-12 Schools

By Staff
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 3:32 PM Amid new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to safely reopen K-12 schools for in-person instruction, Americans are increasingly concerned about the effect of virtual learning on academic progress.

Compared with last summer, a higher share of U.S. adults now say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given a lot of consideration as schools decide whether to reopen. And smaller shares now say the health risk to teachers or students should be given a lot of consideration, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

At the same time, a majority of U.S. adults (59 percent) say K-12 schools that are not currently open for in-person instruction should wait to reopen until all teachers who want the coronavirus vaccine have received it. By comparison, 40 percent say these schools should reopen as soon as possible, even if many teachers who want the vaccine haven’t received it.

Fewer Consumers Are Avoiding Shopping Centers, Malls and Shops

By Staff
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 3:39 PM A Coresight Research survey of U.S. consumers found that for the week of February 22, the avoidance rate of any type of public area stood at 79 percent, down almost eight percentage points from the peak during prior week.

The proportion of consumers avoiding shopping malls/centers dropped to the lowest level recorded in the Coresight survey, at 49 percent—almost 10 percentage points lower than the 59 percent seen the prior week.

Some Consumers Now Favor In-Store Purchasing Versus Online

By Staff
Monday, March 1, 2021 4:04 PM In-store apparel purchases increased substantially, returning close to the level seen during the holiday season last year, according to Coresight Research’s February 22 survey of U.S. consumers. For the first time in the weekly survey, which probes consumers’ behaviors and expectations, with a focus on implications for retailers, Coresight found that the proportion of consumers that reported purchasing clothing and footwear in-store surpassed the proportion buying online.

How Do Americans Feel About COVID-19 Vaccine Passports?

By Staff
Friday, February 26, 2021 3:56 PM NEW YORK—Is it safe yet? This seems to be the question many are asking today as the coronavirus pandemic seems to be on a downward slope, but yet the threat of new variants taking hold is moving in the opposite direction.

At the same time, a debate about “vaccine passports” is picking up as many countries look toward something close to normalcy even amid these new virus strains. New research from Piplsay recently dug into the opinions of people on this emerging vaccine passport concept and their acceptance of it.

With the mass roll of COVID-19 vaccines, there could be a new normal headed our way, according to the research firm’s recent report.

Vaccine passports, or e-certificates that contain COVID-19 test results and vaccination status, may soon become mandatory for international travel, with many countries even contemplating using it for regular activities like concerts, games, movies and even workplaces.

While vaccination for travel is not a new concept as several countries demand proof of yellow fever vaccination even today, displaying one’s health status for everyday access may take some getting used to.

How comfortable are Americans with this emerging idea of a digital health passport? In the Piplsay poll of 30,268 people nationwide, this is what the responses looked like:

• 65 percent of Americans said they believe vaccine passports will be a useful tool to keep a check on the virus
• 64 percent of Americans support the idea of travel access based on one’s health status
• 57 percent of Americans think vaccine passports will make their visits or travel less stressful.

January Retail Sales Show Strong Increase Boosted By Stimulus Funds and Momentum From Record Holidays

By Staff
Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:14 PM WASHINGTON—Retail sales grew sharply in January as government stimulus checks provided a boost and momentum from 2020’s record holiday season carried over into the new year, according to a recent feature from the the National Retail Federation.

The U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales in January were up 5.3 percent seasonally adjusted from December and up 7.4 percent year-over-year. That compares with a monthly drop of 1 percent but a yearly gain of 2.5 percent in December. Despite month-over-month declines in the last quarter of 2020, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June, according to Census data.

“January’s retail sales numbers reflect a very strong start for consumers and retailers as we look ahead to a critical year curbing the global pandemic and strengthening our economic recovery,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers and the economy as a whole remain in good shape despite unprecedented adversity over the past year, and congressional action has been a lifeline for households and businesses disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Frame Sterilization Technology Tops List of Office Enhancements as a Result of COVID-19

By Staff
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 4:56 PM The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked the need for many changes in the office, and ODs have had to make adjustments to keep the office and exam experience safe and comfortable for patients. Respondents shared that they made new technology purchases for the optical (52 percent), the exam room and pretesting area (52 percent) and for billing or the front office area (32 percent), according to a recent Women In Optometry Pop-Up Poll.

Technology for sterilizing frames topped the new purchase list, with 75 percent of respondents saying that they added a new way of cleaning frames between patients. Other common responses included:

• Diagnostic instruments that allow for social distancing: 50 percent
• Kiosks for taking patients’ temperature: 40 percent
• Telemedicine applications: 35 percent
• EMR to enable work-at-home options: 20 percent

Click here to read the full story from Women In Optometry.

Most Health Care Plan Members Prefer Paperless, Digital Experiences

By Staff
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 4:40 PM Payers can gain tremendous time and cost efficiencies by transitioning members from paper to digital communications as long as members are receptive and willing to make the switch, according to the results of a recent survey by Change Healthcare, a leading independent health care technology company.

The survey findings, published by the online trade journal Fierce Healthcare, were based on a poll of 250 insured consumers.

Frost & Sullivan Estimates Virtual Critical Care Solutions Market in the U.S. & EU-5 to Grow Significantly by 2025

By Staff
Monday, February 22, 2021 4:25 PM A recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan found that the COVID-19 outbreak and the shortage of intensivists exposed the dire need for virtual critical care solutions that can cater to large patient populations remotely. The virtual critical care solutions market in the U.S. & EU-5 is estimated to generate revenue of $1.5 billion by 2025 from $818 million in 2020, registering impressive expansion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5 percent, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Consumers Across the Globe Have ‘Discovered the Convenience of E-commerce,’ McKinsey Finds

By Staff
Friday, February 19, 2021 3:59 PM NEW YORK—The coronavirus pandemic has led to many changes in consumer behavior, but perhaps the one that stands out is the shift to e-commerce. Indeed, many consumers discovered the convenience—and safety—of e-commerce for purchasing all kinds of products as well as conducting other online activities during the pandemic.

In a recent post on its site, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company noted that in 2020, the share of e-commerce grew “at two to five times the rate before COVID-19.”

In the U.S., the growth of e-commerce was 3.3 times faster than before the pandemic, while growth in the U.K. was 4.5 times faster than before the pandemic, according to McKinsey.

In addition, the post noted “roughly three-quarters of people using digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they will continue using them when things return to “normal.” This was one of the findings of an earlier McKinsey Consumer Pulse survey (which are conducted around the world).

This 2020 survey found that the flight to digital and omnichannel will continue. “Consumers continue to shift to online shopping across categories, with many consumers planning to shift almost completely online after COVID-19. Americans are trying new digital habits and intensifying usage of digital behaviors such as grocery delivery and restaurant delivery,” McKinsey noted.

Unemployed Americans Are Feeling the Emotional Strain of Job Loss; Most Have Considered Changing Occupations

By Staff
Thursday, February 18, 2021 4:05 PM The U.S. economy abruptly plunged into a recession roughly a year ago, as the rapid spread of the coronavirus and ensuing shutdowns and stay-at-home orders dealt a devastating blow to many businesses and industries. This put in motion a dramatic spike in unemployment between March and April of 2020, which was unprecedented in the post-World War II era—peaking at 14.8 percent in April (seasonally adjusted).

The unemployment rate has come down significantly since last spring, falling to 6.3 percent in January 2021. But labor market disruption remains a hallmark of the COVID-19 recession.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that about half of U.S. adults who are currently unemployed, furloughed or temporarily laid off and are looking for a job are pessimistic about their prospects for future employment, and most say they’ve seriously considered changing fields or occupations since they’ve been unemployed. Many say they’ve experienced more emotional or mental health issues during the time they’ve been out of work.

Seven-Day Average of Daily COVID-19 Cases Drops on a Global Scale

By Staff
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 4:51 PM One year ago, on Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization found the name for what has been shaping our lives ever since: COVID-19, according to a recent feature from Back then, the WHO reported 42,708 confirmed cases in China and 393 cases across 24 other countries. Twelve months later, there have been 106.8 million cases of COVID-19 around the world, with 2.3 million dying from the disease.

And while the virus remains an imminent threat for the time being, especially with more infectious variants on the rise, the downward trend in global new cases combined with the beginning of mass inoculation campaigns across the world are a welcome light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the World Health Organization, the seven-day average of daily new cases fell to 428,000 last week—the lowest it's been since late October.

B2B Sellers Expect Minor Challenges in 2021

By Staff
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 4:17 PM A newly released survey of 110 B2B companies by Digital Commerce 360 found that over half of B2B distributors anticipate minor challenges to optimizing online customer experience as they invest in e-commerce this year.

B2B sellers shifted their focus to investing more in their e-commerce sites because of COVID-19, according to Digital Commerce 360. Forty-five percent said they are expecting significant challenges in securing the funds to make necessary investments in their business.