Churning And Yearning: Online Shoppers More Likely To Leave Brands During COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s no surprise that consumer shopping patterns have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retailers have seen a 59.89% increase in online acquisition from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2020 and a 62% hike in new mobile customers, according The Future of Retail, a global study conducted by Braze in partnership with Wakefield Research.

But what happens next? Churn. Customers who signed on during COVID-19 have a retention rate 82% lower than those acquired during a non-COVID, non-holiday period, and 50% have already dumped a brand.

And online retailers shouldn’t put too much focus on branding — only 10% of consumers now rank “familiarity” as a top consideration. 

It seems that the deciding factor is how a brand conducts itself right now. 

Of the consumers polled, 89% in the U.S. will switch brands because of a weak pandemic response, as will 86% in EMEA and 94% in the APAC regions.  



It varies by age — 95% of Gen Zers and millennials worldwide will jump if they are unhappy with the brand’s performance during the crisis, versus 92% of Gen Xers and 86% of boomers. 

Moreover, 26% say a retailer’s COVID-19 response will be a key factor in their holiday shopping decisions, and 47% cite a store’s safety policies.  

It doesn’t stop with COVID-19 — consumers will also dump brands that anger them by:

  • Mistreating employees — 24% 
  • Polluting or damaging the environment — 24%
  • Taking a political stance they disagree with — 17%
  • Not taking a stand on certain issues — 13%

These propensities also depend on the generation. For instance, here are the percentages that are likely to drop a brand based on their treatment of employees or customers during COVID-19:

  • Gen Z — 35% 
  • Millennials — 43% 
  • Gen X — 34% 
  • Boomers — 20%

And here are the numbers that have left retailers over poor environmental and sustainability practices: 

  • Gen Z — 31% 
  • Millennials — 29%
  • Gen X — 23%
  • Boomers — 17%

How can brands counteract this tendency to abandon ship?

“You can easily send emails that highlight each customer’s recently-favorite purchases, deliver personalized recommendations, or even translate messaging to your audience’s language preference,” Braze advises.  

In addition, take a cross-channel approach. “By leveraging email alongside mobile push, in-app messages, and other channels, your brand can drive 800X higher engagement rates,” the study continues.

On the positive side, 26% worldwide have tried at least one new brand. And 95% says they’re likely to return in the future.

Meanwhile, this year’s holiday season will be like no other. 

The way it stands right now, 42% are decreasing their holiday spend.17% will increase it, and 37% will do most of their shopping at small local retailers. 

Of those polled, 86% will be more comfortable shopping at brick-and-mortar stores in the next six months.  

Boomers, despite their presumably greater vulnerability, are more willing to shop in physical stores despite COVID-19—82% will do so, versus 78% of Gen X, 73% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z. 

In the U.S., 47% cite better availability when repurchasing. In Europe, 45% say it’s better value, and 67% in APAC are driven by better quality. 

Braze and  Wakefield Research surveyed 8,000 consumers worldwide. 


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