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  • Writer's pictureHunter

3 Ways Changing Consumer Behaviours Will Impact Hiring

Retail was one of the industries impacted most by Covid-19 closures in 2020, for obvious reasons.

Unsurprisingly, brick-and-mortar retailers without online presences were the hardest hit, while some online competitors made the most of growing demand to expand into other categories and grow their market shares. Perhaps the best example being Primark missing out on an estimated £1.05bn in sales to the end of February while online-only fashion retailers ASOS and Boohoo saw sales rise by around 40% in the final third of 2020.

What else could you expect when online fashion purchases more than doubled to 86% in 2020, from 41% in 2019?

It’s an extreme example but illustrates the rapid shift that’s taken consumers online. The question for many retailers now is how much of that spending will return to brick-and-mortar stores in the long term. Particularly when online shopping has been growing for more than a decade.

Anyone who knows me could tell you that I love retail. I’ve walked the floors and stacked the shelves (or freezers in my case). I’ve recruited at every level and been lucky enough to have worked with people who I consider to be the best in the business - some of whom I’m proud to still work with. But recruitment is ultimately what keeps a roof over my head and food in the cupboards.

That’s why I generally keep up on what’s happening in retail. It’s also what led me to wonder whether the changing consumer behaviour might rear its head in the recruitment world and, if so, where we might see the similarities.

1. Convenience > Everything

Convenience remains the biggest driver for consumers in deciding where they’ll purchase from, regardless of whether that’s online or offline. 83% of people say convenience while shopping is more important now than it was five years ago, and 52% say that half or more of their purchases are influenced by convenience.

Convenience also outweighed price for consumers with convenience cited as driving 77.5% of all purchases compared with price being a motivating factor in only 17%.

I think we’ve seen a similar increase in demand for convenience in recruitment too. Standards for candidate experience have rightly increased, and I think we’ll see more convenient methods like video interviews stick around in the long-term along with increased demand for better-streamlined application processes and more flexibility around hours and remote working.

As for the link between financial motivations and convenience, could we see demand for home working and flexible hours eclipse financial incentives as the number one priority for more people?

2. More people doing more research

Product research, particularly in its early stages, is one of the elements of shopping made more convenient online. 2020 saw 84% of shoppers consult online sources to support their purchases compared with 76% in 2019.

So people have been doing more research online compared with 2020, which seems obvious because, well, they haven’t had a choice. Interestingly though, that growth has largely been driven by shoppers over the age of 45, with the number of shoppers aged 45-54 doing research online growing from 68% in 2019 to 80% last year and those in the 55+ bracket increasing from 62% to 81% over the same period.

Is it realistic that we’ll see a similar increase in the number of people researching prospective employers online? I think so. Research from LinkedIn in 2015 indicated that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job. I’d expect that number to be even higher today and to only increase further, especially if more people are familiar with conducting research online.

3. Growing importance of values and a stance on social issues

According to research commissioned by Google and carried out by KANTAR, 62% of buyers purchasing online in 2020 claimed to care about at least one sustainability aspect when purchasing from brands online. That includes things like fair working conditions for workers, diversity and inclusion, and environmental responsibilities.

It’s something that’s also been seen in younger generations, with 61% of millennials and centennials showing a preference for brands that stand for something.

Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important as a differentiator for businesses looking to attract well-aligned talent, but sincerity counts. If your CSR doesn’t match up with your values, it can come across as a shallow box-ticking exercise that selective employees will see straight through. That is to say, you should go back to basics, look at your core values and decide how you can do more to demonstrate them through your actions and the stances you take as a business.


I think we'll definitely see some of these changing consumer behaviours reflected in recruitment. How you interpret and prepare for them though is up to you. If you're unsure where to start, feel free to reach out for a chat over LinkedIn.


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