Retail surveys and studies that arrived last week explored how COVID-19 has impacted Millenials and GenZ shoppers and their openness to discovery — as well as international expansion and changing organizational work structures during the pandemic.

›The 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, now in its ninth year, reveals that Millennials and GenZs remain resilient in the face of adversity and are determined to drive positive change in their communities and around the world.

This year’s survey consists of two parts: a “primary” survey of 18,426 Millennials and GenZs across 43 countries conducted between November 2019 and early January 2020, and a “pulse” survey of 9,102 Millenials and GenZs across 13 countries taken between April and May 2020 during the pandemic. Many of the questions from the primary study were repeated in the pulse survey to gauge the effect of COVID-19 on respondent’s opinions.

Among the key findings, respondents indicated feeling stressed most of the time citing family welfare, long-term financial futures and job prospects as the primary causes. The environment remains a top concern as some fear the damages from climate change are irreversible, but environmental changes during pandemic gave some respondents optimism. While views of business continue to decline, respondents would actively support companies that make positive impacts on society.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has radically shifted our way of life—how we work, socialize, shop, and more—and young generations were especially impacted,” said Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Chief People and Purpose Officer. “However, despite uncertain and discouraging conditions, Millennials and GenZs express impressive resiliency and resolve to improve the world. As we rebuild our economies and society, young people will be critical in shaping the world that emerges.”

›Shoppers Open To Discovery During COVID-19
A survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers from Valassis found 36 percent have made an impulse purchase based on an advertisement since the pandemic began, and 65 percent of consumers said they would make an unplanned purchase to treat themselves in the next month.

“Consumers have had to change the way they live and shop over the last few months creating, for some, pent-up demand for novelty and discovery,” said Carrie Parker, vice president, marketing, Valassis. “While saving money is top-of-mind, we see that many consumers are looking to discover new products using deals and offers as a purchase catalyst. Connecting the dots between shifting behavior, purchase motivations and preferred ways of engaging will enable marketers to use this consumer desire for novelty to make a real brand connection.”

Compared to a survey conducted in mid-March, more consumers believe new shopping behaviors will become a part of their routine in the future. In retail, 19 percent of consumers will use buy online/pick-up in-store options more often (versus 10 percent in March). When it comes to restaurant purchases, 29 percent of respondents believe they would choose to carry-out from restaurants more often (versus 20 percent in March). Additionally, 23 percent of respondents would use restaurant delivery more often moving forward (versus 18 percent in March). This number spikes to 36 percent among younger consumers ages 25-to-34.

›Pandemic-Friendly Services Driving First-Time Customers
Nearly 3-in-5 Americans (57 percent) said local business pandemic-friendly services (including curbside pickup, local food and grocery delivery, and contactless payments) led them to purchase goods or services from a local business for the first time, according to research from Podium.

Of those respondents, 92 percent said they were “likely” or “very likely” to return to this business even after COVID-19 restrictions lifted. The survey found Americans overwhelmingly would like local businesses to continue offering pandemic-friendly solutions after COVID-19 restrictions lift including curbside pickup options, 80 percent; food and grocery delivery options: 79 percent; contactless payment options,

Other findings from the survey include texting as the preferred was to communicate with local businesses (41 percent), over other methods such as calling (23 percent), emailing (18 percent), and website chat (15 percent). Nearly half (45 percent) of Americans have received or exchanged text messages with a local business or restaurant within the past week

›Study Finds COVID-19 Solidifying GenZ’s Core Characteristics And Values
A study from Gen Z planet LLC, a research and advisory firm, found that while the pandemic is clearly a “defining moment” in the lives of GenZers, it is also just one of a series of pivotal events that have taken place in their lives and reinforces their belief that change is constant.

Among the survey’s key takeaways is that 73 percent said that as the country begins to reopen they plan to go to stores, particularly local ones, as much, or even more than, they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Forty percent of respondents said that going forward they would aim to support local small businesses.

“We found that while the pandemic has stirred up every aspect of their lives, their core values, attitudes, and the way they think about consumption remained unshaken. If anything, the pandemic seems to be solidifying some of the generational characteristics they already possess, particularly their cautious approach to spending, their aspirations for a more just world and their optimism,” said Hana Ben-Shabat, founder, Gen Z planet. “For brands seeking to connect with this generation, it means thinking strategically about their pricing architecture, the overall value they deliver and a renewed emphasis on being a good corporate citizen.”

›Organizations’ Workforce Strategies Are Not Ready For The Future Of Work
According to Forrester study, the global pandemic and the economic downturn have accelerated the transformation of the future of work to weeks, not years. Unfortunately, most leaders and their organizations’ workforce strategies are ill-prepared for an accelerated future-of-work reality.

According to the study, the pandemic is an acute symptom of a larger set of factors that were already poised to alter the way work gets done. In fact, four “shocks” to enterprises — systemic business risk, robots and automation, a tsunami of employee data, and employee power and activism — were already changing the who, where and how work gets done. These four shocks do not exist in isolation. They can trigger and compound each other, creating new urgency in areas that businesses had not planned.

“While it’s odd to call anything good news right now, leaders should be relieved to know that the structure, process and culture tools needed to address the future of work are not new and exist today,” said Keith Johnston, VP and group director at Forrester. “It’s just that executives need to employ these tools immediately. Forrester’s rapid self-assessment can help leaders assess their readiness to deploy these tools and detect areas where their workforce strategy and roadmap can be improved quickly.”

›Nearly One-Third Of Workers Expect To Work Remotely Post-Pandemic
A survey from Edtech firm MindEdge/Skye Learning of 828 remote workers and managers found that almost a third (29 percent) expect to remain working remotely full-time even after businesses resume “normal” operations. Another 27 percent expect to work remotely at least part-time, and only 35 percent expect to return to their old workplaces on a full-time basis.

Among managers, 36 percent expect that they will continue full-time remote work, and 29 percent expect to return full-time to their old jobs. The survey results indicate that a slight majority (52 percent) of these at-home workers had some previous experience with remote work, though only 17 percent said they had a great deal of experience with it. The remaining 48 percent said they had never worked remotely before.

For a large majority of survey respondents, remote work was a direct response to COVID-19. Fully 80 percent said that their employers did not have a remote-work program before the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.

“The survey suggests that this shift to remote work during the crisis has brought with it a new set of challenges and opportunities,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO, MindEdge Learning. “Businesses need to find creative ways to support workers struggling with setting boundaries between the personal and professional. Regardless of when Americans return to the office, many employers will find an altered workplace with a greater reliance on digital communication. They would be well served by planning for that changed landscape now.”

›International Expansion Plans Undeterred By COVID-19
New research released by Globalization Partners and CFO Research indicates that most businesses are undeterred by the impact of COVID-19 and are moving forward with plans for new or expanded international operations. More than half of respondents expressed interest in expanding or adding operations in the Asia-Pacific region. The findings also show that 83 percent of respondents said they are looking into a remote, global workforce model as a solution to the changes brought about by COVID-19.

Despite the pandemic-induced economic crisis, 45 percent of respondents are either currently expanding globally, or only slightly, delaying expansion and will do it within one year. Another 9 percent maintain the intent to expand internationally but remain in a year-long holding pattern.

After North America at 71 percent, the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China), targeted by 65 percent, was the most popular region for new or expanded operations. Capturing market share was the top-cited reason for expansion into these regions. Also, highly cited was the desire to expand sales, diversify investments and acquire top talent.

“This research offers grounds for optimism that the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has not derailed international expansion plans for most businesses who were already on this path,” explained Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder, Globalization Partners. “However, the operational challenges, particularly around local legal rules, recruitment and compliance, can take months to navigate. Our solution removes these barriers to success and makes it easy to establish new international teams and revenue generation in a matter of days and in some cases in as little as 12 hours.”