Consumer Behavior in 2020: Lessons from a Year in Review

Hugh Rees at Expose Media author profile image
consumer behavior featured expose media
consumer behavior featured expose media

Like the rest of the world, the Expose Media team had to jump through some unexpected hoops this year. For us, those adjustments included working remotely and navigating a rapidly-changing eCommerce landscape and consumer behavior in 2020.

There were definitely some ups and downs along the way. As a team, however, we managed to take these challenges in stride. In fact, we finished the year with double our annual Facebook spend. Our ad buys went from $9 million in 2019 to $18.77 million this year.

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished and the part we played in helping our clients thrive during these unprecedented times. So before we get too far into 2021, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and review the year that was!

What Happened in 2020?

When COVID hit in March, we really had no idea what to expect. Our clients include businesses in many different industries. We didn’t know how the pandemic would affect them, let alone us.

As restrictions began to ramp up, we were forced to say goodbye to a number of our service-based clients (gyms, hotels, travel) and as a result our web and design departments really slowed down.

Internally, we were forced to virtualise our office in a matter of 3-4 weeks as ‘work from home’ restrictions were announced. We had to move extremely fast to get everyone set up remotely and put work-from-home protocols in place.

This setup lasted roughly eight weeks. While it was challenging for us as a team, the effect of the pandemic on the eCommerce industry was hugely positive. Global lockdowns set the perfect storm in motion for our eCommerce clients.

With consumers spending more time plugged in at home, online shopping behaviors boomed and some of our clients actually had their best months on record during April, May, and June.

Further, that growth was visible industry-wide by the end of the year. BigCommerce reported 74% year-over-year eCommerce growth during Cyber Week 2020, as well as a 17% year-over-year increase in AOV.

By the time restrictions began to ease and we returned to the office, it was clear that COVID forever changed consumer behavior in 2020. As a business, we could either change with it or risk sinking.

What We Learned about Consumer Behavior in 2020

So what changed?

First, lots of brick-and-mortar businesses went digital to remain relevant amid COVID restrictions, which effectively doubled the number of choices available for online shopping.

This increase in choice meant that consumers were forced to change the way they shop. In other words, if the same shirt is available at three different online stores, how do shoppers determine which one to buy?

According to our statistics, two main trends emerged:

1. Consumers are Shopping Smarter

Price points have always been a differentiating factor, but with increased job loss and unemployment, consumers have become even more cost-savvy this year.

This means a fair price point, discount codes, and sales were more important to consumer behavior in 2020 than ever.

2. Consumers are Shopping According to Their Values

Perhaps the biggest change in consumer behavior has been the trend towards value-based shopping.

Consumers are concerned about what is going on in the world. They want to support brands that are doing something about it.

This year, for obvious reasons, this kind of value-based shopping has been particularly evident in the health and wellness space. Companies in this industry that worked on their brand story and emphasized certain values were successful in getting consumers to trust them over their competitors. Why? Because they showed they care about their customers.

Old Lessons Reinforced

In addition to these marked changes in consumer behavior in 2020, the year that was reinforced two old but important lessons -- the value of partnerships, and the importance of online usability.

The use of social media exploded this year in the same way online shopping increased due to COVID restrictions, particularly on apps like TikTok. Partnering with influencers on these apps has proven to be hugely beneficial in driving traffic and increasing brand awareness.

One of our most successful clients this year, The Cooking Guild, broke revenue records by partnering with TikTok influencer ManWithAPot. We generated $1.2m in revenue in November alone through this partnership, up 200% from the prior month.

Similarly, online usability has always been important. But the influx of new online shoppers (including older people who might not have much digital know-how), reiterated its importance for us this year.

And given that about 49% of buyers expect to keep shopping online frequently after the outbreak is over, ensuring the consumer is able to get where they want to go easily, without any barriers, will do wonders for your conversion rate.

What’s Next for eCommerce?

With these findings in mind, let's talk 2021!

We saw firsthand this year how effective an all-inclusive marketing team that includes web design, creative content, and ad management can be in 2020.

We set out in that direction at the beginning of the year and can’t wait to continue the journey in 2021. In particular, we hope to grow our content team to increase capacity for in-house production and Shopify Plus builds.

We’ve got big plans for the new year and they all revolve around growth! We can’t wait to get to work!

Ready to grow your brand and eCommerce presence? AdLeaks has the resources you need. Click here to learn more!

About Hugh Rees

Hugh Rees is Co-Founder and Head of Digital at Expose Media, an eCommerce growth agency that helps clients accelerate revenue growth primarily through paid social advertising.