Consumers want to explore, test products in stores

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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What consumers miss most about shopping in stores is browsing for new products, trying on apparel and testing new products in person, a Valassis survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found.

The findings hint at a shopper excited to exit the at-home pandemic shopping shift and do some more exploring, which could bode well for retailers and private brand suppliers looking to innovate with new products, as they shift from focusing solely on producing essential products.

Valassis is part of the marketing solutions company Vericast, and the survey was conducted in December 2020.

The study revealed that 45% of respondents missed browsing and discovering new products in-store most, followed by trying on apparel (40%) and testing products in person in stores (34%).

Interestingly, the study also touched on some habits like an increased focus on fitness at home in the next two month, with only 13% of consumers planning to purchase an in-person gym membership, and nearly a third are looking to buy more self-care and wellness products that help with stress relief. Perhaps that’s an avenue for CBD items. The study said 21% are planning to buy exercise equipment, something the retailer Meijer knows well as it recently worked with local suppliers to meet heightened demand of its own brand fitness equipment.

“The extreme events of the past year led to dramatic shifts in consumer behavior,” said Carrie Parker, senior vice president of marketing at Vericast. “People changed the way they live, shop and consume media, and our research shows that consumers are eager to discover new products and services and are desiring convenience and — above all — savings. For marketers, this year it’s critical to really understand your target consumers’ shifting behaviors and motivations and evolve with them, engaging across new media and connecting dots to deliver meaningful experiences and offers that meet their needs in specific moments.”

The consumer study also identified consumers eager to buy local, to support local restaurants (53%) and small businesses (33%). That said, what’s driving them to seek new businesses are promotional offers, with 28% of consumers exploring new retailers when given a valuable offer. With the acceleration of e-commerce in consumers’ lives, the study also saw consumers plan to increase their restaurant carry-out orders (29%), leverage third-party deliverers (27%), access BOPIS (21%) and have groceries delivered (17%).