New York, NY, 22.07.2020

GfK FutureBuy® identifies social media commerce, “borderless” shopping as forces shaping post-pandemic shopping

With COVID-19 lockdowns easing in some areas of the US, brands and retailers are working hard to understand what might come next – the trends they need to monitor and leverage to succeed in a post-pandemic world.

New research from GfK FutureBuy® points to three forces that have been picking up speed in recent months and years – and gained momentum during the virus crisis.

Click here to download a free 2020 report from GfK FutureBuy®

“Borderless” shopping

In the past, consumers often had distinct shopping routines both online and in stores. But the availability of shopping apps, websites, and brick-and-mortar outlets from the same retailers began to erase those “borders” a few years ago – and the pandemic has only accelerated this trend.

During the COVID-19 crisis, product shortages, long checkout lines, and other factors have upended many shopping habits and even forced the purchase of unfamiliar brands at unfamiliar retailers, online and in-person. Americans are shopping and buying with a growing fluidity among different sources, forcing retailers to remain flexible and work to be everywhere that consumers want to shop.

Social media commerce

Consumers have been trading product information and opinions on social platforms for more than a decade – and brands and retailers have become increasingly savvy about leveraging that connection. According to FutureBuy® 2020, 18% of all consumers have used a social media “buy” button, and 14% have clicked on shoppable articles or posts. For post-Millennials (ages 15 to 22), those figures are doubled – 37% have used buy buttons and 30% have tried shoppable articles.

The spike in online use during the pandemic has given even more attention to social media shopping; in mid-June, 28% of consumers said they were spending more time on social sites compared to pre-pandemic habits. And while 50% of Americans said before the crisis that they had never shopped on social media, “trial and repeat” of this convenient option is destined to rise.

Chart 1. Generational Trends in Social Media Shopping

The new simplicity

Long before the pandemic, stress was a growing factor in consumers’ lives – and COVID-19 has done nothing to alleviate that. Americans now are looking for brands and retailers that can simplify their lives without betraying their trust. Despite privacy concerns, 41% of consumers – and 54% of post-Millennials –told GfK FutureBuy that they “like it when a website keeps track of my visits and then recommends things to me.”

But GfK has also found that Americans are ambivalent about trusting brands. In fact, US consumers were almost as likely to say brands were acting as “negative forces” during the pandemic and protests as positive ones. Consumers want to embrace companies that can help them manage overwhelming product choices – but may not have patience with brands they see as deceptive.

FutureBuy® is the definitive resource for capturing the hearts and minds of today’s empowered shoppers. With an unmatched category and geographic footprint, and a highly intuitive online dashboard, FutureBuy gives brands and retailers (on- and offline) the insights they need to:

  • Get a comprehensive view of shopper attitudes and behaviors across 19 categories and 25 countries
  • Choose the right geographies and categories for new products and services
  • Focus resources against the shopper touchpoints that matter most
  • Track emerging trends and understand where tomorrow's shoppers are heading
  • Make smarter decisions about custom shopper studies and data integration


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