Inside The Mind Of The Digital-First Consumer

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The consumers who shopped for anything from groceries to sporting goods to cars in December of 2019 are completely different from the ones who shop today. Not only have they been stung by an unprecedented pandemic and consequential lockdown, they’ve been made aware of – and have started using – different ways to conduct their shopping journeys, pay for their goods and even take possession of them.

PYMNTS has tracked those changes every step of the way via exclusive research, Tracker reports and studies, starting on March 6, a full 10 days before the country – or large swaths of it – were locked down. With that knowledge in the toolkit, we’re starting the year by taking readers where everyone in the payments and commerce world would like to go: inside the mind of what is now the digital-first consumer.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to describe the “typical” grocery shopper – a bridge millennial, a 36-year-old mom of 1.93 children (according to the Census Bureau) doing the grocery shopping for the household. Her typical shopping journey has changed in a way that is increasingly looking like a permanent shift, as opposed to a transient event in response to unusual circumstances.

How She Sees Herself

Our shopper has a career. Although she has been working from home, she still identifies with her career. And, according to PYMNTS’ The Great Reopening: Shifting Preferences report, she fits the description of one of our four digital-first consumer personas: “office shifters,” described as “consumers who have shifted to working from home and want to go back to being outdoors and working in office environments.” What sets this demographic apart from others looking to get back to normal, however, is their rapid embrace of digital everything – and their intention to retain their favorite COVID-era habits, like digital shopping.

“Office shifters plan to use digital shopping options more than other consumers after the pandemic has passed,” the report noted. And they’re also “the most likely to say they will keep shopping online once daily life returns to normal.”

How She Thinks About Vaccines

Because she is concerned about her own health and that of her family, our digital-first shopper will get the vaccine as soon as possible. A PYMNTS vaccine survey released toward the end of 2020 demonstrates that consumers who have dramatically shifted their lives toward digital over the last nine months have done so because they are afraid of the risks associated with visiting brick-and-mortar stores, and are thus more likely to get a vaccine. More than 54 percent of those who are shopping for groceries online say they will likely be vaccinated.

How She Thinks About The Shopping Venue

Our shopper will place her order through a voice assistant. She is superconnected and, according to the 2020 edition of the PYMNTS/Visa How We Will Pay survey, like other consumers in her segment, she has become 105 percent more likely to shop digitally than even a year ago – and she is more than twice as likely as the average consumer to make a purchase via voice assistant. PYMNTS’ research shows that eight million consumers have used voice assistants to make purchases while shopping for retail goods or grocery products during the survey period, an increase of 45 percent since 2018 and 8 percent since 2019.

How She Thinks About Timing Her Order

She thinks differently about when she will grocery shop than she did just a year ago. It was once a weekly activity relegated to the weekends, but she has now joined the 50 percent of grocery shoppers who shop during the week.

How She Thinks About How She Pays

Our shopper will use her card-on-file with her supermarket. PYMNTS’ study showed that 52 percent and 45 percent want to register their credit and debit cards with the apps they use to power their connected experiences, respectively. This compares to 39 percent who wanted to register credit cards and 44 percent who wanted to register debit cards last year. But when she has had to make a run to the physical store, our shopper would use a contactless method of payment. The PYMNTS How We Shop study showed that consumers who are interested in using contactless payments also want to use them everywhere they shop, including at grocery stores (83 percent of respondents).

How She Will Get Her Groceries

Busy trying to work at home and tend to the kids, she will have her order delivered, as do 26 percent of retail shoppers who favor curbside pickup or delivery. And she’ll do it during the week. No more spending a couple of hours on Saturday walking up and down those grocery aisles. Her full-time or part-time work-from-home reality means she can be home for those deliveries, something that wasn’t possible when she was working 9-to-5 in an office.

How She Thinks About The Future

Our shopper thinks digital-first and isn’t going back. Her dependence on connected devices, the ecosystems she connects to, and the integrated payments experiences they enable have blurred the lines between the physical and now digital-first worlds.

And she is not alone. More than 85 percent of digital-first consumers – those who have done less in the physical world and more in the digital world for the same actvivity – say they’ll keep all or most of those digital habits. What started as a necessity has become a way of life.

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