Half of Americans have tried a new way to buy since the pandemic began

First-time use of services like grocery delivery, alcohol delivery and pre-ordered home goods have surged since Ipsos asked consumers at the pandemic’s start – especially among parents.

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  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor
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As the pandemic forced Americans out of their comfort zones a year ago, they began to try new ways of finding food and other household goods like alcohol and electronics. New data from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker shows that, a year into the pandemic, nearly half of Americans (47%) have tried a new ecommerce or delivery brand, product, service or feature since the pandemic began – from grocery delivery and pre-ordered electronics to meal kits and alcohol.

When Ipsos began asking consumers about their pandemic habits in April 2020, we found that after a month of lockdowns, one-in-four Americans (25%) had already tried something new for pickup or delivery. But the number of people adopting kept expanding over the course of the pandemic, as consumers explored the economic landscape of the new normal.

“Big brands who had been investing in or were able to quickly scale new curbside and delivery options saw the greatest benefits,” said Carlos Aragon, vice president with Ipsos Mystery Shopping. “Further, brands who created an ideal customer experience were rewarded not just with repeat use, but with the new customers who kept appearing in waves as the pandemic continued.”

  • Restaurant pickup or delivery posted some of the biggest growth from consumers during the pandemic: One-in-four (24%) Americans tried something new in this category. That’s up from only 10% who had tried something as of a year ago, when we were just a month into American pandemic restrictions last April.
  • Many also tried grocery delivery and pre-ordered groceries: 19% of Americans tried a new form of grocery delivery, and 18% tried picking up pre-ordered groceries. That’s more than double from the number who had tried it in the first month of the crisis (9% for grocery delivery and 6% for grocery pickup).
  • 12% have tried a new brand, product, service or feature with pre-ordering non-grocery items like electronics or home goods; only 4% had tried it as of this time last year.

year over year buying comparisonOther digital products and services have also seen big jumps since our polling early in the pandemic. One-in-five Americans (19%) have tried telemedicine since the pandemic began; only 7% tried it in the first month of the pandemic. One-in-five (20%) have tried a new streaming service, also up from 7%. Contactless payment with a smartphone also soared – 14% now say they’ve tried it since the pandemic began, compared to only 4% in the first month.

One key group has been more open in experimenting and trying new technologies: Parents. With many driven to their wits’ end by the loss of childcare or shift to e-learning, they have been quick to adopt things that make their lives easier. Across the board, people with children in their household were more likely to say they have tried new brands, products, services or features in every category we asked about.

parents buying comparison

  • Parents were more than twice as likely than nonparents to have tried grocery delivery for the first time during the pandemic: One-in-three (31%) say they tried a service for the first time, compared to only 14% of nonparents.
  • Parents are four times as likely than nonparents to have tried an alcohol home delivery service for the first time – 16% compared to only 4%.
  • One-in-four (23%) say they tried a new social media service for the first time, compared to 12% of nonparents.

As vaccinations continue to roll out and the economy reopens, people will regain access to their old lives and habits – but many of these options are likely to stick for parents and others who come to rely on these convenient offerings that make their lives easier.

The author(s)

  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor

Consumer & Shopper