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News I published 28 July 2021

Did COVID affect contractors’ purchasing behaviour?

For over a year now, the pandemic has had a huge impact on how we live our lives and the way we work. For a while, and longer than surely any of us had imagined, the focus was on fewer personal contacts. As a result, we visited fewer shops and ordered more online in our personal lives. Whether similar effects can be seen in our professional lives heavily depends on the profession though.

In the world of construction, for instance, no clear effect of the pandemic on the way contractors go about their business can clearly be seen at first sight in the results of the H1 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor, which focused on the purchasing behaviour of contractors from eight European countries.

COVID did not have much effect on which purchase channels contractors use

The pandemic seems to have had no ground-breaking impact on contractor’s purchasing behaviour. Almost all European contractors still purchased from wholesalers, allotting about 70% of their wallet to them on average. And around 60% of contractors report that they also purchase directly from manufacturers and that not much has changed in that due to COVID. Same goes for the share of contractors purchasing from DIY stores.

Did nothing change then?

Even though COVID had little change on the purchase channels used by European contractors, it did affect their working lives. Like everyone else, their personal contacts were limited by regulations and common sense during the pandemic, which is shown in the way they ordered either from wholesalers or directly from manufacturers.

European contractors report that ways of ordering that did not involve personal contact, by e-mail or telephone, were used more often due to the pandemic. At the same time, ordering via representatives of either wholesalers or manufacturers, dropped by 10% and 13% respectively, showing the tendency to reduce personal contacts due to the pandemic.

10% to 13% may not seem like much of a decrease, especially given the severity of the crisis. When you take a pre-corona trend of increasing ordering through sales reps in account though, a decline by 10% to 13% is quite significant, and a clear indicator of the disruptive year we have just lived through.

Will it last?

As sure as we are of our results about the now, we find it hard to predict tomorrow given the volatility of the corona situation. If dark days of many cases and restrictions return, contractors’ changes in ordering behaviour may persist, albeit under duress. Before you change your sale strategies though, please realise that contractors are people and are craving for a return to normality too.

Should fortune favour us all and corona is overcome, surely the contractors will be as eager to go back to normal as we all are, meaning that a significant 10-13% decline during the pandemic can easily sway to an opposite surge after the pandemic. Regardless of what may come, please realise that the above is based on European averages and that there are huge differences in the way of ordering of contractors from different countries.

To find out how contractors in your area of operation prefer to order, we refer you to the H1 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor, focusing on the purchasing behaviour of contractors from eight European countries.

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