More than 8 in 10 women say their shopping habits have permanently changed since the pandemic – poll by Meredith and The Harris

Covid-19 has changed women’s shopping behaviours, desires and expectations, including a re-evaluation of how they spend their free time and a focus on shopping locally, according to a new exclusive national study from Meredith Corporation and The Harris Poll.

“Women are using their time during the pandemic to re-evaluate all aspects of their lives, from everyday routines to deeper evolution around their life goals and health,” said Britta Cleveland, Meredith’s Senior Vice President for Research Solutions. “This means change ahead for retail, as women look to turn their new priorities into action.”

Among the many other notable findings, the Meredith-Harris Poll study reveals three key shopping trends accelerated by the pandemic:

  1. Creating demand now starts with digital
  2. In-store retail needs a glow-up as digital shopping grows
  3. Women are intentionally directing spending to brands that support their values and community

As the largest media company focused on adult women in the US, Meredith’s multi-platform brands, which include People, Better Homes & Gardens, Allrecipes, Southern Living, and Real Simple, focus on entertainment news, house and home, food, style, health, fitness, travel and luxury, and parenting.

The study, Shopping Confessions, is the third annual collaboration between Meredith and The Harris Poll.

Previous collaborations between the two produced “Gen Z Women,” a 2020 study revealing this demographic’s unique perspectives on life, career, relationships, racial injustice, and social media, and “Burnout Flashpoint,” a 2019 study delving into the stress epidemic affecting American women.

Priorities are shifting from size and status toward authenticity and expertise.

Looking more closely at this year’s study:

Digital is the future to cultivating desire 

Modern window shopping and checkout is being fuelled by digital wish lists, social media, influencers, and editors/experts.

Digital discovery continues to be optimised as retailers work to bring the serendipity of new finds online. Nearly six in ten Gen Z women (59 per cent) find out about new products from social media advertising. More than half (52 per cent) say email outreach has driven purchases, but a slightly higher percentage (56 per cent) admit they are “drowning in junk email from stores / brands that I have purchased from.”

When it comes to influence, priorities are shifting from size and status toward authenticity and expertise. Survey data show that micro influencers (fewer than 100,000 followers) have the greatest trust when it comes to product recommendations. Similarly, editors and subject matter experts are more trusted than celebrities.

Women are resetting their in-store retail expectations 

Women are excited to get back to in-store shopping, citing the tactile experience and instant gratification as the most anticipated elements. Women 40 and under are particularly seeking the social experience that comes with shopping in-store. Yet women imagine this experience looking different than it did pre-pandemic, with heightened expectations and new needs. Nearly half (47 per cent) of women 40 and under agree that “everything looks outdated to me now as we exit the pandemic, so I’m looking forward to seeking new experiences.”

Women 40 and under are more likely to be wooed by upgrades such as in-store food and beverage offerings and comfortable lounge spaces, while women over 40 are more concerned with COVID safety precautions.

Women are more intentional about buying brands that align with their values

Research suggests that one lasting impact to post-Covid retail expectations is heightened intentionality around purchase choices, including brands that have a positive impact on society.

Survey data shows that women are voting with their wallets to prioritize employee treatment, “give back” programs, and small business support. The pandemic has driven this small business-first mentality as 70 per cent of women attest, “I witnessed a lot of local businesses struggle or go out of business, so I’m trying to shop locally more often.”

Sustainability is also an increasing driver for brand preference, as 59 per cent of women across generations agreed that “shopping online is often wasteful with its packaging,” and 56 per cent of women agreed with the statement, “I’m staying away from fast fashion because it’s unsustainable.”

Read more about the survey and its methodology here.


Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x