What do online shoppers really want from brands? New data reveals 3 current consumer behavior trends

Aubrey Harper
4min read
Ecommerce industry
September 23, 2021
consumer shopping expectations

Ecommerce has been growing significantly in recent years.

Then, the pandemic hit and that growth skyrocketed. Online shopping became a necessity, even for people who hadn’t even considered it before.

Sure, COVID-19 changed the way people shop, but what does consumer behavior actually look like today? And what do people want from brands going forward?

To answer these questions, Klaviyo surveyed over 5,000 online shoppers about how they want to interact with brands—on social media, with email, and in everyday life.

And, because data’s most helpful alongside context and beautiful graphics, we put that information into a report that tells the story behind the numbers.

Read on to learn about trends that define consumer behavior right now, like:

  • How people discover and interact with brands
  • What’s important to consumers today
  • What communication channels shoppers prefer

Curious about what your customers really want? Here are a few highlights from the consumer trends we discovered:

1. Word-of-mouth brand referrals still carry the most weight

When people look for a new brand, they prefer recommendations from friends and family. This isn’t new—but it’s important to note that it’s still true, despite the rise of social platforms like Clubhouse and Tik Tok.

In other words, building relationships with your customers and turning them into brand advocates might be a better investment than trying that flashy new channel you may be wondering about.

Recommendations from friends and family ruled supreme across all age groups.
After word-of-mouth, social media ads resonate best with people under the age of 35, and web searches and online ads are more effective among those 35 and over.
Image shows a consumer behavior trends report.

2. People shop locally for three main reasons

Even as parts of the world reopen, people are keeping their attention local. The survey showed people continue to be excited about shopping local—so we dug into what that special something is bringing consumers to smaller brands.

Possibly from a desire to protect their local community businesses or to discover more unique items
Consumers are favoring small, local, and independent brands.

Image shows a consumer behavior trends report, indicating the top three reasons why people shop small.

3. Email isn’t dead (still), and SMS messaging is gaining steam

The consumer’s choice award for marketing channel of the year goes to…email.

Consumers say email marketing is the way they want to engage with brands they already have a relationship with. Given how easy it can be to personalize emails to feel relevant, it makes sense that consumers enjoy email communications.

Plus, a new star has joined the show: Along with email, people shared they’re also interested in getting text messages from brands they love.

SMS marketing is on the rise
In fact, most consumers (75%) say they’re open to receiving texts from brands they care about.
Image shows a consumer behavior trends report, SMS communication preferences by topic and age group.

Now, are you wondering how consumers feel about hot topics like data privacy and social commerce? Rest assured, that’s in the full report. Explore it to learn:

  • How many consumers are actually worried about data privacy
  • What social media platforms your customers are most likely to use
  • Actionable takeaways to help you meet your customers’ current needs

Today’s consumer data, tomorrow’s brand strategy

Consumers have shared what they want from brands like yours. It may not be what you thought or even what they once told you, so show people you’re actively listening by acting on what they expect from now on.

And what better time to prove your brand’s relevancy than the biggest retail moment of the year?

We’ve been through one Black Friday/Cyber Monday affected by COVID-19 and consumer behavior has already changed from BFCM 2020. Use this new data as you think about how you’ll adjust your marketing strategy heading into the holidays to meet your customers needs today and in the year ahead.

Incorporate text messages into your BFCM marketing strategy.
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Aubrey Harper
Aubrey Harper
Content strategist
Aubrey is a Content Strategist at Klaviyo, where she leads content efforts across EMEA. Her background is in marketing technology, but she most recently worked in ecommerce, giving her a passion for entrepreneurs selling amazing stuff online. When she’s not making content to educate fellow ecom enthusiasts, you can find her in one of the many London parks chasing after her squirrel-happy dog and listening to the Everybody Hates Marketers podcast.