Insights and Research
The Big Consumer Financial Trends for 2021
Trend #4: Covid as a catalyst for contactless payment
Covid-19 didn’t just fast-track the number of people shopping online, it also expedited long-awaited predictions from experts about changing consumer payment methods.
We found that both the number of people discussing contactless, and the number of people discussing mobile wallet services (like Apple Pay) increased 181% and 65% in 2020, respectively, when compared with the average number of people discussing them in 2017, 2018, and 2019. We also found that when consumers were talking about how they paid online they were increasingly vocal on credit options.
Contactless shopping experiences go beyond just payment options. Due to the lack of in-store shopping, retailers started experimenting with new technologies to help consumers try on clothing and accessories without having to be there in person.
Innovators in the retail industry have made every effort to reduce potential physical contact, making online shopping experience as close to the in-store experience as possible. From trying on glasses at home to enjoying a virtual makeover, will these virtual options lead to long-term uptake? Google Trends data suggests it has, with a sustained increase in searches for ‘virtual try on’ since the pandemic was declared.
Trend #5: The consumer savings story is mixed
In 2020 we also found 50% more mentions of “saving challenges” or regimented plans (like the $1 a day challenge) compared to 2019, as people worked to create a financial safety net prompted by the pandemic.
This was also reflected when we looked at the number of articles created and shared about savings challenges, using BuzzSumo, our content analysis platform. 906k people engaged with or shared content about savings challenges during the peak of the trend in March 2020, emphasizing the sudden need consumers felt to build a financial safety net.
That said, while there is still more content being created about savings challenges, engagement has gone back down to pre-pandemic levels. The trend towards saving may be wearing off. January is a popular month for searching for ways to improve your savings practices, but 2021 saw the least January worldwide Google searches for ‘how to save money’ in five years.
Trend #6: Effects of Covid-19 will continue to drive financial decisions
It’s no secret that Covid-19 will have a knock-on effect for years to come. In 2021 many people will still be dealing with the financial trouble they were placed in as a result of the pandemic. This will be felt across the economy as people spend less freely.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the first Bank of England Clearing House Automated Payment (CHAPS) data in January. The purpose was to illustrate how much people in Britain have been spending on their credit and debit cards in the UK, across 100 retailers.
While staple purchases remained relatively steady, social spending dropped by 83% after the first lockdown, with bars and restaurants facing the brunt of lockdown measures and safety wariness.
As the world begins to slowly reopen in 2021, we will hopefully see spending trending upwards and conversation around financial hardships starting to trend downwards.