Forter Study Shows Higher Prices Changing Consumer Behavior

This week Forter, released findings from a national consumer study that found 61% of respondents have shifted their online shopping habits as a result of higher prices. This signals a need for online brands to evolve with their customers.

Commissioned by Forter and conducted by Talker Research, the study revealed nearly nine in 10 respondents have seen their cost of living increase over the past five years. The top three spending categories for online shopping are groceries (35%), clothing (27%) and home goods (17%).

Where and how consumers shop is not only impacted by changing prices, but also generational preferences. Sixteen percent of Generation Z respondents are shopping on social media platforms more often, compared to the 7% average across all respondents; while 19% are shopping on marketplaces more frequently, compared to the 11% average across all respondents.

Payment preferences are also shifting. One in four respondents are using buy now pay later (BNPL) to shop online, with Gen Z again showing the greatest comfort with BNPL (53%). Of those using BNPL, 56% are doing so to help manage their costs.

Brands should consider the perks and options they offer as meaningful levers to drive customer loyalty and lifetime value. Many respondents said they’d be enticed to shop online from companies on a regular basis if they offered free shipping (63%), affordable goods (61%), frequent sales (36%), free and easy returns (34%) and loyalty programs (33%).

Varied and emerging payment options also attract consumers to shop with brands, including companies that accept digital wallets (20%) and those that offer BNPL options/cryptocurrency (15%) and store credit cards (10%).

“The cost-of-living increase means that consumers are fundamentally altering their online shopping habits,” said Doriel Abrahams, principal technologist at Forter. “Brands that want to maintain customer loyalty and value in this macro environment must evolve, too. From the simple – but important – perks to the full checkout experience, consumers want more and better from their favorite brands.”

In light of higher prices, nearly half (48%) of all respondents have considered abusing retailers’ policies for their benefit, including stacking coupons (50%) and reselling highly-sought products (15%).

These tactics vary across generations, as 20% of millennials consider opening multiple online accounts to reuse promotions, while 24% of Gen Z consider sharing passwords to online subscriptions with friends and family.

“When times feel tight, consumers will naturally look for ways to cut costs and corners,” said Abrahams. “Brands need to strike a balance between driving business with a great experience and limiting the damage caused by policy abuse. This comes down to knowing who your good customers are.”

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