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Smartly.io Survey Finds 87% of Consumers Will Continue Online Shopping Behaviors, Spurred by Upticks in Pandemic

Riikka Söderlund Aug 27, 2021 7:16:51 AM | 4 min read

U.S. consumers are ready to spend, making purchases in new categories and from brands that respect their data – and will continue to shop online even as COVID-19 restrictions ease

NEW YORK -- August 17, 2021 -- Smartly.io, the leading social advertising automation platform for creative and performance marketers, today announced new research indicating American consumers’ continued preference for online shopping, and a rising interest in protecting their data privacy. A staggering 87% of respondents said they plan to continue shopping online, despite eased restrictions and physical retailers re-opening. Another 85% said they prioritize their personal privacy data more than they did a year ago. 

Conducted by Dynata, the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers explored new spending patterns, as well as consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward e-commerce, digital ads, and data privacy. While climbing U.S. vaccination rates and loosening COVID-19 restrictions in the first half of the year may have signaled a return to “normalcy,” Smartly.io's survey findings underscore how the pandemic irrevocably changed the way consumers engage with brands. 

The findings also reflect on how the pandemic challenged marketers and advertisers to quickly recognize and adapt to the opportunity for brand engagement on social media. As platform usage skyrocketed over the past year+, digital advertising on social platforms had – and will continue to have – a critical role in driving consumers to make purchases. Nearly four in 10 (38%) respondents reported making an online purchase, and 44% said they discovered a new product or brand based on a digital ad they saw on social media in the past 30 days alone.

“The events of the past year caused seismic shifts across industries and are reflected in the spending patterns and shopping behaviors we see today,” said Robert Rothschild, CMO, VP & Global Head of Marketing, Smartly.io. “We’ve seen a clear appetite for online shopping among consumers, which poses both a challenge and an opportunity for brands to evolve their social media advertising strategies. These findings show the future of social advertising is a winning combination of creativity, data, and insights – with an ever-watchful eye toward privacy.”

Additional key findings from the Smartly.io survey include:

Loosening COVID-19 restrictions spur online spend in new categories.
  • Consumers are looking to make up for lost time and are impulse spending on purchases they couldn’t make during global shutdowns. 
  • Over the past 30 days, more than half (53%) of respondents have been motivated by loosening COVID-19 restrictions to buy items online that they can use right now. 87% of respondents are impulse buying online in specific categories such as:
    • Apparel and retail (59%): The findings show retailers can expect many consumers to be trading their at-home athleisure for fresh, stylish ensembles. Whether it’s for back to work, back to school, or readying for summer travel and outings at restaurants and other venues, brands should prepare for this influx.
    • Travel and hospitality (39%): While some consumers might not yet be comfortable with travel, there is a clear uptick in confidence as nearly four in 10 respondents look to make travel/hospitality related purchases online this year. 
  • Other top online shopping categories include food and beverage (44%), entertainment (39%), home improvement and decor (38%), and automotive (17%).
Consumers are prioritizing privacy. Transparent, trustworthy data practices are key.
  • Despite consumers’ confident outlook on online shopping and product discovery through social advertising, they are much more privacy conscious than they have been in the past. In fact, 85% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they prioritize their personal privacy data more than they did a year ago.
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) report they would be more likely to purchase from a
    • Nearly three-quarters (74%) said they are more receptive to digital ads from brands when it is clear how their data is being used. 
    • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they have noticed more brands online requesting their approval to track their data. Most (72%) appreciate this added step of providing opt-in approval for data tracking and collection from brands online. 

Learn more about this latest research from Smartly.io, along with best practices for brands to engage consumers with social ads.

About the Study

In a study commissioned by Smartly.io, Dynata surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand their attitudes, behaviors, and preferences toward e-commerce and digital & social ads coming out of the pandemic – as well as their stance on data privacy and brand trust. Respondents were located in the U.S. and were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted in July 2021.

About Smartly.io

Powering beautifully effective ads, Smartly.io automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity. We combine creative production and ad buying automation with outstanding customer service to help some 700 brands scale their results – not headcount – on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. We are a fast-growing community of 600 Smartlies with 17 offices around the world, managing nearly €3B in annual ad spend and growing rapidly and profitably. Visit Smartly.io to learn more.

Author
Riikka Söderlund

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