For many consumers around the world, a recovery from Covid19 feels so close yet so far away from their old ways of living. From eating to shopping to working out, the pandemic has left no part of the everyday routine untouched. It has dramatically led to new habit formations and drastic shifts in behavior, with many showing high stickiness even post-Covid.
The erratic bursts of contagion, lockdowns and economic volatility have molded consumer behavior in ways that no other extrinsic factor could have influenced in such a short time. As per PWC U.S. data (2022), 50% of the retail consumers have tried new products/brands during the pandemic, 28% have picked up new hobbies and 48% intend to continue with their newly-formed health and wellness habits. Online purchases across product categories have seen a ~30% increase when compared to pre-covid times.
In other words, brand loyalties have shifted, digital adoption has galloped its way into people’s homes and social and health awareness have seen new heights. These behavioral changes have critical implications for brands.
Post Covid-19, brands are focused on retaining their existing consumers, understanding their habits and attitude, and embracing consumer trust as a business imperative. Three approaches that can help brands attain optimum results:
Reinforce the Changed Beliefs
Beliefs and habits are the primary drivers of consumer behavior and trying to change them is often an uphill ride. Brands should instead reinforce the beliefs and position their products to fit the new landscape. It might even lead to better outcomes than in pre-covid times.
A pre-covid consumer might have been skeptical about buying groceries or taking a fitness class online, whereas today as Mckinsey data suggests, 55% of U.S. consumers who tried online fitness classes during the pandemic and 40% of the consumers who bought groceries online say that they want to continue to do the same in future. Such rapid digital adoption has allowed brands to move online from brick-and-mortar stores enabling them to expand their reach.
Reshape Brand Messages to Meet the New Sentiments
Brands at the moment are addressing a set of consumers who have freshly emerged from a life-changing crisis. They are now navigating a tricky terrain with consumers that are paying close attention to health, social welfare and environmental issues. It has become more important than ever before for brands to become human in dealing with their audiences through personalized messaging and showing commitment for the wellbeing of the larger community. As per Mckinsey data (2022), 57% of consumers today call ‘purpose’ to be an important factor in their purchase decisions.
Identify the New Consumer ‘Delight’ Moments
Brands might want to revisit touchpoints for moments of delight, as they have changed with the new consumer journey too. For example, a moment of delight in a cosmetics store could be the discovery of a free make-up session. Whereas in the online cosmetics buying journey, a ‘delight’ moment might be the virtual trying on of makeup before buying or before-time delivery of orders.
The changes in consumer behavior post-pandemic are a reminder of how consumers drive the narrative of any brand. Brands that have a nuanced understanding of the new behaviour and expectations would be able to position themselves and their products effectively for the new normal.