Consumer behaviour changed. But, which changes will last?

Learn about consumer behaviour changes during historic recessions; how they relate to today; and how companies can adapt in 2021 and beyond.
Published August 17, 2021
Last updated November 14, 2021

After every crisis, consumer’s behaviour changes. Priorities shift, and often, thanks to academic research, we can dig out repetitive patterns that can teach us more about what makes a human being.

For instance, during the Covid-19 lockdown, many consumers had to quickly shift their year-long in-store grocery shopping and use new online contactless delivery options. For many, this was the first time shopping online. Some first time online shoppers were so struck by the simplicity and convenience of this experience that they contemplated keeping this new habit even when they go ‘back to normal’.

In this article, we want to highlight the changing consumer behavioural patterns and connect them to their longevity to help you better navigate your product innovations and marketing initiatives as we go ahead into the future.

Research to the rescue

The change that happens when a new crisis emerges affects humans on different levels, so marketers use numerous consumer behaviour models to determine the drives behind their actions.

Covid-19 has made millions of people lose their jobs, with young adults taking the biggest hit, as they are the primary workforce behind shops, bars and entertainment venues. The majority of historical recessions lasted up to 2 years, however, some market leadersare already forecasting the post-Covid recession to last much longer.

Researchers have studied the changing consumer habits after recessions (such as in 2008) to uncover repetitive patterns and predict consumers behaviour in the recovery years. Scientific understanding can fuel marketing campaigns to better relate to the fundamental concerns and desires of the customer. Yet, can we pinpoint the behaviours that are going to stick?

Post-crisis patterns to keep in mind

Studies have shown how ​​after a year of lockdowns, 95% of survey respondents said they made at least one change to their lifestyle that they expect will be permanent.

Back to simplicity

After a crisis, consumers have recurred a pattern of economic concern by cutting unnecessary costs to maintain their financial stability or simply reduce stress.

This pattern has been evident in the mainstream media during the 2020 unfolding. The public was flooded with advice and guidance to maintain their ‘peace of mind’ by focusing on simple things. Even after the crisis in 2008, this trend was apparent among more affluent consumers that were avoiding excessive consumption. Now, after spending months in lockdown, a broader range of consumer segments desire a more natural, purpose-led and less wasteful lifestyle.

Yet, even though some consumers have embraced the simplistic lifestyle, Accenture’s research shows how even premium brands still have their place in the market. In the survey, 58% of respondents are maintaining or increasing their purchases of premium brands. While low-cost-and-high-value purchases may be predominant shortly after the pandemic, soon this behaviour could quickly shift.

Switching brands

After the recession in 2008, Starbucks noticed its regular customers more frequently moving away from the Starbucks branded coffee to more affordable options like Dunkin’ Donuts.

Post-crisis, consumers are looking for value-for-money brands that can provide their product or service as per their preference, and if not — they switch providers in a heartbeat. This pattern is fueled by the lack of options, especially during Covid-19, consumers have tested more local brands instead of repeating their standard purchase options. According to McKinsey’s research, 75% of US-based consumers have tried a new store, brand, or different way of shopping during the pandemic. Many consumers will never go back to their pre-pandemic providers. For this reason, to ease anxiety and ensure loyalty, brands should employ purposeful and empathetic messages to reinforce customer’s positive emotional connections with the brand.

Digitalisation and Ecommerce

The massive migration towards digital channels that came on the footsteps of Covid-19 has caused organisations to meet the demand of online commerce rapidly.

Consumers have already been utilising social media networks to communicate their preferences about various products. Post-Covid, the propensity towards digital channels increased as they became a zone of work, entertainment and transactions. The importance of the home working environment was evident by the fact that most employees have shared their desire to continue working from home even after the pandemic is over. Even more, Bloomberg reported how employees are quitting their positions instead of giving up their work from home.

Work from home is creating a momentum

Working from home doesn’t only mean working from home. This lifestyle change has touched consumers across the globe and affected their day-to-day routines, shopping habits, entertainment choices and much more. As we advance, companies will have to keep in mind emerging trends and lifestyle choices that will eventually unfold new consumer segments.

Final thoughts

Consumer preferences, values and beliefs have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many are moving to new locations to accommodate their changing lifestyle habits, while others are looking forward to going ‘back to normal’, which may never happen. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to leverage consumers’ insights to match their behavioural patterns with contextualised messaging, and eventually, product or service offering. 

We practice sentiment analysis, granular segmentation and hyper-personalisation to thrive in changing markets. If you wish to know more—read about our B2B or B2C Omnichannel Behavioural Campaigns, or get in touch with our team today.

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