New Study Measures Shifts in Consumer Behaviors, Driven by Rapidly Changing Attitudes as to What’s Essential

The pandemic has radically altered the products, channels and services consumers deem essential. In our first research report of 2021, Rightpoint and Something Digital delve into the new normal for 2021 and beyond. 

 According to a new study by Rightpoint and Something Digital (now part of Rightpoint)The New Essentials, the pandemic has substantially altered the products, channels and services consumers deem essential, and those new perceptions will likely last beyond 2021. Brands that respond to the shift in consumer sensibilities will be poised to earn their loyalty.  

The report surveyed 1,002 consumers in the US and Canada between November 20 – 28,  2020 to explore mindset, category engagement and digital savviness as life during the pandemic has evolved. In addition, we interviewed 10 digital executives to understand how  their organizations have capitalized on the shifting landscape.  

Key findings include: 

Accelerated life change correlates with redefinition of what is essential. 

Two out of three consumers report making significant lifestyle changes as a direct result of the pandemic, giving rise to a new class of trendsetting “life changers.” Highly adaptable, young (60% are under age 40) and economically comfortable (66% are gainfully employed), this trendsetter group is evidence of larger demographic and attitudinal shifts in the near future. These shifts will radically transform how consumers live, make decisions, and purchase. 

Individual perspectives redefine what is essential.  

Although every person experienced the same pandemic, there is no collective internal response to it. Every person has created his or her own risk-benefit analysis to everyday activities like shopping, working, and socializing. Which has resulted in a fragmented perspective of needs vs. wants, and indeed, what is essential and what’s not.  

 For example, consumers who see the pandemic as a collective challenge have a more generous view of what’s essential, assigning categories typically associated with personal growth or self-actualization — travel, furniture and home, fitness — at significantly higher values than those who don’t. 

 “Marketers know they need to move away from targeting consumers based on broad characteristics like geography and demographic. These findings add more urgency to that shift. In the post-pandemic world, consumers are strongly motivated by their internal risk-benefit analysis, and brands that can tap into that analysis will build long-term loyalty,” says Phillip Jackson, Chief Commerce Officer at Rightpoint. 

Consumers who will soon dominate spending have evolving expectations around convenience, community and social good and safety. 

Gen Y and Gen Z bring a set of strongly held expectations to the commercial world, and they demand brands to meet them:

  • Convenience. Features like onsite search and product inventory/availability continue to prompt conversion, but younger shoppers also want flexible fulfillment and ways to reach customer service. They also want seamless cross-channel journeys — e.g. browsing via connected TV and buying via a mobile device.


  • Community. For younger adults, digital connections enable community. For instance, 68% said they prefer discovering new brands on social media, and 55% said they’ve increased their use of video conferencing. Younger adult shoppers have a strong sense of community, with 64% of them feeling guilt for finding joy while others are struggling; 82% of Gen Z won’t ignore a brand’s ethics for the sake of a good deal. Brands will need to walk the talk to succeed with this generation.


  • Social Good and SafetyGen Z and Millennial shoppers are entering 2021 more cautious about their physical health, emotional well-being and finances. Transparency will be key; consumers will want to know what brands are doing to protect the physical, emotional and economic wellbeing of their customers, employees and suppliers. 


“The pandemic has heighted the consumer’s awareness of the world around them, including its joys, challenges and opportunities. Younger adults in particular are making decisions based on a new set of essentials that speak to their hearts, minds, wallets and preferences. Brands that can adapt to the new essentials will enjoy greater success, while those that fail to resonate will struggle to survive,” said someone at Rightpoint. 


Download the complete report here. 

SD Office Hours Episode 70: 2021 Outlook

On this week’s show Host Tony Ciarelli is joined by SD experts Brian Serow (Director of Business Development), Brian LAnge (Director of Business Development) and Holmes Koo (Strategic Engagement Manager) to look back at 2020 and forward to 2021.

They discuss:
  • A look back at 2020
    • Kroger $12B in online sales this year – how much has grocery changed this year?
    • Discuss the pandemic’s effect on ecommerce


  • What do we mean when we talk about performance?
    • Site Speed: what matters most to a merchant? How does a content site differ from a merchant site?
    • Scalability: late in the blog you talk about throwing around the word performance, I think the same goes for scalability. What does scalability mean in this context?

SD Office Hours Episode 69: Singles Day

On this week’s episode of SD Office Hours host Tony Ciarelli takes a day off and hands over the reigns to SD’s Director of Business Development Brian Serow. Brian is joined by SD’s Chief Commerce Officer Phillip Jackson and Director of Business Development Brian Lange.


This episode they discuss:

  • Singles Day
    • The results of Singles Day
    • Does this signal a manufactured holiday future for ecommerce worldwide? 
  • Which brands to look at during the holiday period 
  • Brands that are doing holiday promotions right 
  • Out-of-stock and high demand, should we expect to see that end anytime soon?
  • Brands using out-of-stock as a form of promotion  

SD Office Hours Episode 68: Shipocolypse or Shipagedon?


On this week’s episode of SD Office Hours, Tony is joined by SD’s Front End Programmer Alex Lyon, and Director’s of Business Development Brian Serow and Brian Lange.

This episode they discuss: 

  • Why Would a Consumer Buy From You This Holiday Season?
  • Why do you think holiday projections are overly optimistic? 
  • How merchants can help their customers with a first-time purchase? 
  • What will most of the country be doing during the late fall/winter and how merchants can market to those people?
  • What’s the most important takeaway? 

Class of 2021 Stepping into the Future of Ecommerce: A Recap

Most will probably agree this is a fair representation of 2020:

Thankfully, 2021 is in sight. At SD, we’ve already left 2020 behind and are looking to the future. A few weeks ago we put together a Masterclass with some of our partners at Adobe, Klaviyo, Bolt, and Yotpo and we virtually graduated into a commerce-first world. For those of you that weren’t able to join us live – have no fear! Over the next week we’ll be recapping some of the things we learned in two posts or you can download the whole commencement experience here.

The Class of 2021 event kicked off with a special session from Worth Darling, Director of Retail Innovation at Vans. He shared insights around brick and mortar stores and their connection to commerce within brands. Worth began his discussion by sharing this quote: “By 2040, 95% of all purchases will be done via commerce (NASDAQ).” – Retail Reset Report, The Future Collective.

To quote Worth’s response to this, “We are on this journey, this inevitable journey to a digital commerce dominated marketplace.” We couldn’t agree with you more Worth; and that’s why we are here to help everyone create exceptional commerce experiences. Worth and Phillip continued to discuss trends, insights, challenges, loyalty, and much more together. Don’t miss out and download it here.

The stage was then passed to our second professor, Joe McCarthy, Director of Performance Marketing at Klaviyo. Klaviyo is an email marketing platform created for online businesses — featuring powerful email and SMS marketing automation. Joe walked us through relationships and how to harness the relationships we’ve built and continue to build to drive more revenue in 2021. Joe shared some amazing insights from data Klaviyo has collected and reviewed over the past year.

Joe taught us all a very important lesson; there has never been a greater opportunity to build relationships. How can we capitalize on this opportunity? Listen to Joe’s session for all his tips here.

Joe the passed the torch to our great partners at Adobe, Jess Goulart and Tory Brunker who shared how you can modernize your commerce growth. Jess and Tory talked about the impact 2020 has had on retail and reviewed some key trends they’re seeing to help you connect with consumers and drive digital growth.

Plan for the future with help from the tips and predictions Jess and Tory shared and some fun they had discussing Moroccanoil dry shampoo and Adobe Max with Phillip by downloading the session here.

Next up, Loren Kelley from Bolt Checkout took the stage to share trends in checkout. With nearly 13 years of experience, Loren walked us through great checkout/payment experiences, as well as the bad ones and how to avoid those mistakes.

To learn some best practices on how to avoid cart abandonment and how to optimize your checkout experience download the session video here.

After a short coffee break and a fun commerce poll – we got right back to it with one of Something Digital’s greatest, Caitlin Mekita! Caitlin is our Vice President of Strategic Engagement and works with her team to help grow our clients’ businesses. Who better to talk to our audience about planning strategically for 2021? To quote Caitlin, “We’re going to focus a little less on the ‘what’ you’re going to do to in 2021 and more on the ‘how’ you’re going to get it done.”

And that she did! Caitlin touched on how to create a great roadmap to see growth, from laying a foundation to executing those plans and measuring success. Check out her full session here.

With two more sessions left, Yotpo’s VP of Product Marketing Josh Enzer took the stage and discussed how evolutions in shopper behavior will shape commerce. Josh covered major shifts in commerce and the top 3 changes for the new year. He covered where we were, where we are, and where we are heading.

By identifying the shifts in commerce today and the changes for 2021, Josh helped us prepare for the future of commerce and ask the question, “In a world where millions of businesses are competing for your customers’ attention, how do you win?” Check out his full session by downloading it here.

To close out commencement, our host Phillip Jackson came back to the stage and was joined by the amazing CEO and founder of personalized boutique agency Proof the Future that provides one-to-one digital and brand strategy, Ingrid Milman Cordy (and her super cute furry co-speaker .)

Ingrid spoke with Phillip about how to choose an agency, when it’s the right time to do so, when to rely on help from outside your organization or to build a team inside the brand. Check out Phillip and Ingrid’s full discussion here!

It was a few hours overflowing with great discussion, questions posed, data, tips, predictions, and some pretty great jokes. Be sure to check out all the sessions for a more detailed look at the takeaways from the event and join the Class of 2021. Download the full commencement experience here.

Still have questions or looking for help to strategically plan for 2021? Reach out to us and let us be your partner in growth!

SD Office Hours Episode 67: SD has been Acquired!


On this week’s episode of SD Office Hours, Tony is joined by SD’s Director’s of Business Development Brian Serow and Brian Lange. This episode they discuss Something Digital’s recent acquisition by Rightpoint!

  • What does that mean for SD? 
  • How does this change SD? 
  • What does SD bring to the table for Rightpoint? 

They also touch upon:

    • 10/10 and Prime Day 
    • Were they a big deal? 
    • What do the numbers tell us? 
  • NYTimes article on Curbside pickup
    • A theory: no one want to go to a store until they are no longer available?
    • Is curbside pickup table stakes for a brick and mortar business during the pandemic? 
    • Why are people still going to big box stores when those stores deliver online? 
    • Especially when they are going there just for curbside pickup? 
  • Brian Lange asks: is the retailpocolypse real? 

SD Office Hours Episode 66: Brands We Admire

On this week’s episode of SD Office Hours, Tony is joined by SD’s Chief Commerce Officer Phillip Jackson, and Director’s of Business Development Brian Serow and Brian Lange.

This episode they discuss:

  • Good use of Design or Bad use of Design? Segment!
  • What brands they admire right now? 
  • It’s October – has holiday started?
  • What should and should not be sold online?

Join the Class of 2021 & Step into the Future of Ecommerce


We’re leaving 2020 behind (finally!) and stepping into the future! Something Digital, Adobe, Klaviyo, Bolt, and Yotpo  have come together and put on our professor hats to guide you, the Class of 2021 with all the tips and tricks you need to continue build your digital presence.

Sign up for classes here

The *first 100 students to both register and attend* will receive a graduation gift box filled with all sorts of SWAG from SD and our co-teachers!

Class Schedule:
• 1:00pm ET | Welcome
• 1:05pm ET | Opening Keynote with Worth Darling, Vans & Phillip Jackson, Something Digital
• 1:20pm ET | Session with Joe McCarthy, Klaviyo
• 1:50pm ET | Modernizing Your Commerce Growth with Tory Brunker & Jess Goulart, Adobe
• 2:20pm ET | Trends in Checkout with Loren Kelley, Bolt
• 2:50pm ET | Coffee Break
• 3:00pm ET | Session with Caitlin Mekita, Something Digital
• 3:30pm ET | Session with Yotpo
• 4:00pm ET | Closing Keynote
• 4:20pm ET | Q & A
• 4:30pm ET | Congratulations – that’s a wrap!

We can’t wait to see you there!


Be sure to check out some of our other great content here & contact SD with your questions!

SD Office Hours Episode 65: The Constantly Changing State of Commerce

This episode host Tony Ciarelli is joined by guests Brian Serow and Brian Lange as the three discuss:

  • Due to the pandemic, people have been moving out of major cities
    • Does that mean we’ll be seeing new eCommerce businesses emerging and new eCommerce “Types”?
    • How are merchants keeping track of this and how should they be keeping track?
    • How does this effect customer relationships?
  • Are there too many purchase options?
  • Is this making it more difficult for consumers?
  • What products have you learned cannot be purchased online effectively?
  • Is there anything you wish you had seen during the pandemic that you haven’t seen as a consumer?

SD Office Hours Episode 64: User Journey

In this episode Tony & SD expert guests discuss success tips for the upcoming 2020 holiday season and home & bedding user journeys!

  • Covid 19 and holiday 2020 tips for success 
    • Lindsay, what are the main concerns going into holiday 2020? 
    • Why will this year be the highest grossing holiday season ever? 
    • Why is BFCM coming earlier than normal this year?
    • Will it be similar to last year when it felt like BFCM lasted a month?  
    • How is Prime Day effecting holiday this year? 
    • As a Digital Marketing expert, what are you recommending merchants do to prepare for holiday? 
    • With Digital Marketing set, how do we get customers to convert?
  • Home and Bedding User Journeys 
    • Brian, Lindsay and Tony describe their paths from research -> purchase -> delivery, etc on a recent home and bedding purchase