What you need to know

Emerging technology is shaping the way consumers shop, interact and explore brands and retailers online. COVID-19 has drastically accelerated the rate at which consumers of all ages are adopting more digital practices into their lives – nearly five years sooner than anticipated. The advancement and adoption of tech will continue to revolutionize the way consumers shop, engage and learn about brands online moving forward. It will provide highly personalized experiences and give consumers the ability to shop in more ways than ever before, including designing rooms with AR, browsing store aisles virtually and connecting with brand associates from their homes.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the role of technology in ecommerce

  • The effects of a lingering recession on consumers’ ecommerce and technology use

  • Motivating factors driving consumers’ use of emerging tech

  • Barriers to consumer tech adoption


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Emerging technology: technology that is available but not yet widely used by consumers, especially for shopping purposes, which include but are not limited to: voice assistance, QR codes, digital wallets, scan-and-go, scan-and-shop, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, digital showrooms, 3D mapping.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, non-essential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

During re-emergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Even as states reopen, many consumers continue to limit time spent in stores and are doing more of their shopping online. Brands and retailers will continue to focus on improving their digital capabilities and making it easier for consumers to seamlessly shop across online and offline channels and engage in digital experiences.

Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until a vaccine is available.

Back to top