Covid-19 greatly altering consumer preferences and behavior

US consumers are shifting their personal behavior and preferences as a result of the severe impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey from IBM. The firm’s Institute for Business Value polled 25,000 US consumers in April, and found shifting attitudes toward personal mobility, event attendance, retail, and remote work.

Personal mobility

More than 20% of respondents who regularly used public transit said that they no longer would, with a further 28% saying they would use public transportation less often.

More than half of US consumers who used ridesharing apps said they would use them less often or stop using them entirely. A smaller 24% of taxi users said they would no longer use that mode of transportation.

Social distancing is, as such, pushing people to more personal vehicle use. More than 17% said they plan to use their personal vehicle more as a result of the pandemic, and a quarter plan to use it as their sole mode of transportation going forward.

Covid-19 greatly altering consumer preferences and behavior

However, personal finance constraints because of Covid-19’s economic fallout will hamper vehicle buying, even after restrictions lift. Over a quarter said a lack of confidence in the economic outlook will impact their decision to buy a vehicle, with the same proportion saying they would hold off on a vehicle purchase for more than six months.

Event attendance

Even if restrictions are lifted for large events, more than half of respondents said they were unwilling to go to large gathering for the duration of 2020. Seventy-five percent said they were unlikely to attend conferences or trade shows.

US consumers are more open to visiting restaurants and bars, with one-third indicating they would visit them, and only 10% saying they would not. One in five, meanwhile, said they were likely to visit malls and shopping centers once they reopen. Consumers were more eager to go to outdoor spaces, with one-third very likely to visit outdoor parks once restrictions are lifted, and a quarter ready to visit the beach.


The Covid-19 pandemic has made consumers more eager to eschew cash transactions. Nearly 40% said they are likely to use contactless payment when shopping. Meanwhile, online has not taken over as a means to obtain essential goods (food, household products), perhaps as a result of a lack of capacity to serve increased demand, added costs, or because of a distrust or lack of understanding of online channels for segments of the population. More than 75% said they are still choosing to visit stores to buy essential goods.

Remote work

A shift to remote work because of the pandemic has shown large amounts of the workforce that it can be done at their companies, and that workers like it. Nearly 40% of respondents said that employers should offer remote work options when things go “back to normal.” More than three-quarters said that they would like to work remotely at least occasionally, and more than half said they would like it to be their primary way of working.

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