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Consumers' Evolving Expectations: Study


Market Force Information wanted to understand the new dynamics of the marketplace as expectations and behaviors are likely to last well past the COVID-19 pandemic. Between May 6 and 8, 2020, the firm surveyed 3,964 US consumers to learn how they see retailers and restaurants responding to infection control, use of alternate shopping and dining methods, behavior and attitude changes toward contactless transactions, and problem experiences.

This is the second wave report, following up a study conducted in early April, has allowed its analytics team to see how consumer’s perceptions have changed between wave one and two. From the first wave to the next, Market Force evolved survey questions to seek out a better understanding of consumer behavior to best provide strategic guidance for its clients.

Consumer Confidence & B2C Expectations
As consumers are eager to get out, the collective belief that we should continue to shelter in place has decreased 12%, from 80% in April and down to 68% in just a one-month period. Although there is still uncertainty on how the consumer market will operate once this pandemic is over, this most recent study confirmed that shopping behaviors are changing, and B2C business will have to adapt to new customer expectations.

As Market Force saw in the first wave, and more apparent in this second wave, consumer sentiment is high for local and independently run business as they receive credit and praise for taking noticeable percussions to keep customers safe.  

  • 41% of local businesses received a five out of five top box rating with how well they have adjusted to keep customers safe, versus 31% when compared to national chains.

There's a 10-point gap between local and national brands, and a great opportunity for big brands to excel. 

  • 30% of dinners who chose to eat at a new Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) did so only because their first choice was not open yet.

As more families are preparing food and dining at home, availability, scalability and greater satisfaction with family meals deals will represent an opportunity for QSRs and casual dining restaurants to up their game. Contrary to how diners selected a restaurant before the Coronavirus pandemic, they are now seeking out locations with less traffic and contactless food service.

Visits to QSR restaurants are expected to decrease 17% after the pandemic with annual visits dropping from 76 visits pre-pandemic, to 49 visits during the pandemic, and 63 probable visits post-pandemic. To make the most of declined visits; the report results demonstrated the following customer success drivers: convenient restaurant location, perceived value for the dollar, and availability of contactless food pick up.

The Most Important Factor When Reopening

Market Force's research indicates the most important factor in re-opening the economy is making sure consumers feel safe when they visit your business location. In addition to executing excellence in the overall customer experience, how the brand directs shoppers into the store, supports an organized in store experience, and executes cleaning standards will make the difference in a satisfied customer who is likely to recommend your business to others.

For more details on this study’s findings, please get in touch with Market Force to receive the full report.

To develop the data for this report, Market Force asked survey participants to rate their last experience at a casual dining, QSR, or grocery chain and their likelihood to recommend it to others based on consumer expectations and behaviors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted in May 2020 across the United States. The pool of 3,964 respondents represented a cross-section of the four Census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 65% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondent ages ranged from 18 to over 65 where approximately 71% were female, 28% were male, and 1% preferred not to answer.

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