Being Prepared For Changes In Customer Behaviour Post COVID
New experiences need to offer significant incremental value for change to become permanent, and if these experiences are negative, it can result in a rapid reversal to past behaviour.
The e-commerce sector has responded rapidly to the challenge of creating positive experiences in response to the pandemic; many companies have invested in logistics and supply chains and widened their product ranges which have attracted many customers.
The demand for online shopping seems to be sustainable for the long term; fears of catching an infection may decrease once COVID is over, however, the significantly higher perceived convenience may make this behaviour permanent.
A study has found that the popularity of online shopping will stay after COVID. In particular, the percentage of consumers of fashion, beauty, and telecommunication categories saying that they will shop online versus in-store in the next 6 months remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
A survey by Deloitte conducted in the pandemic found that 38% of respondents did more online shopping in comparison to pre-lockdown, and 20% of participants did more online grocery shopping. This shows that more people are shopping online due to the pandemic, but the survey also suggested reasons why; many people, mainly young people (18-34 year olds), were likely to continue to buy online for non-health reasons which don’t relate to catching COVID such as convenience, time saving, and wider product ranges.
For example, shopping online now means clothes can be bought within a few minutes, whereas going into a shop requires queuing and parking, and also physical stores obviously cannot display as many products as a website.
A big positive that physical stores have in comparison to online shopping, is the fact that people can try clothes on. However, people may not see this as much of a problem anymore when shopping online, due to the ease of returning clothes and receiving a refund within days. Also, people may still be unable to try on clothes In the early days of shops re-opening due to risk of infection, therefore this will diminish the benefit of physical retail for some people.
Online retailers like Ocado believe that things will never fully revert to how they were before the pandemic so they are investing in their e-commerce capacity.
Although some people will go back to in-store shopping (perhaps older people who won’t be fearful of catching COVID anymore), the transition from physical shopping to online shopping is inevitable and the pandemic has accelerated this.
Pubs, bars, and beer gardens will all be extremely popular when restrictions are lifted; many young people will be excited to go with their friends to socialise, as they have less fear of catching COVID.
Pubs, bars, and restaurants with outdoor space and money to invest in heating and weatherproofing could help to attract older customers so it's perceived as a safe environment. Technology is also expected to play a role in maintaining safety, for example with mobile apps to place orders and pay, which will help to keep physical interaction to a minimum.
With the concerns of international travel resuming in summer, many people may book holidays in the UK. For example, a lot of families are likely to arrange beach holidays to our country’s coasts.
City breaks could be popular amongst younger adults because they will want human interaction as soon as restrictions are lifted. This age group are less fearful of COVID as it's less deadly so they will want to go to lively bars in cities.
OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOURS
There has been an increased awareness of health (hygiene, healthy eating etc); this behaviour is likely to be permanent and will remain after COVID. People are now adopting healthier lifestyles, focusing on fitness, and there is a greater focus on nutrition to build immunity.
For example, in Italy 4% of people have stopped smoking and the proportion sleeping for 9 hours a day has increased by about nine times. There could be an opportunity here to launch healthy nutritional products, immunity boosting supplements, and mental health products.
There's been an increase in divorce over the pandemic, therefore, with more people being single, this could also affect behaviours post COVID.
Interestingly, a study found that consumers are now experimenting with lesser-known brands due to their normal purchasing pattern being disrupted. If these brands offer better value there's a high chance that they will stay with the new brand.
Accenture found that there has also been more of a preference to buy from local shops.
Interesting times ahead!
Blog created by Nathaneal Thomas-Hands April 2021