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AS Watson Group’s global survey reveals post COVID-19 consumer trends

Sadiyah Ismailjee
04 September 2020

World’s largest international health and beauty retailer, AS Watson Group who counts Superdrug as one of its subsidiaries,  has announced the findings of a Global COVID-19 Survey conducted by WISE in April.

The survey examined over 22,000 consumers over 20 markets in Asia and Europe and reveals consumer shopping trends post pandemic. The survey highlighted that consumers want to go back to shopping in physical retail store and desire human connections again.

Group COO of AS Watson Group and CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe), Malina Ngai said: “While the pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth and technological developments, the crisis has underlined customers’ desire for human connections, and for the future of retail, these bonds will become even more important."

“AS Watson has been working to build retail brands that have a lasting, close relationship with our customers while also offering a seamless online and offline experience alongside industry leading technology. These technologies are designed to enhance the experience, but they can never replace an exceptional, quality service, strong relationships and personal connections with our customers.”

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced consumers to shop online and this saw AS Watson’s global e-commerce grow by over 90% in the second quarter of 2020.

A great number of shoppers have become more accustomed and comfortable with online shopping and are likely to stick with this method of shopping in the future, which will give e-commerce a boost in the long term.

In the Group’s recent survey of over 22,000 customers aged 15-65 in over 20 markets, 90% of respondents said that they will continue to shop online and that 100% of respondents said they will go back to shopping in physical stores. This was especially prominent amongst Generation Z who felt most confident, with one third saying they will visit stores more often.

The survey highlights consumer desire for human connection, with the need for human interaction becoming a key focus for business strategies going forward. The opportunity to engage with both humans and experience products in real life will become an important part of business growth for many retailers.

The global pandemic has forced many retailers to seek new and innovative ways to stay connected with customers. With over 138 million loyalty programme members worldwide, AS Watson Group has continued engaging with its customers and developing innovative ways to do so throughout the pandemic.

This resulted to a 30-50% increase in social media contents produced by the company to stay engaged with its customers. Many of AS Watson’s operating markets have also started live streaming and social commerce, receiving positive response from customers.

In addition, the survey showed that over 70% of customers said their income has been or will be affected by the pandemic. When asked about how their lifestyle would change post COVID-19, 92% of respondents said they would take part in outdoor activities, followed by cooking at home (91%) and doing DIY beauty treatments (84%).

Malina Ngai added: “As AS Watson enters the new normal, we need to rethink our strategies and approaches to meet and adapt to the changing demands of our customers. Our insights show that in addition to seamless online and offline shopping experiences, customers are more emotionally demanding for relevance and care."

"As we continue to be the most-loved brands of our customers, we have to innovate the way we operate to be more personal with the service we offer in store and further enhance online personalisation through cutting-edge technology.”

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