The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the world as we know it. People are living differently, buying differently and thinking differently. Consumers across the globe are looking at products and brands through a new lens. Even as this crisis continues to evolve, by exploring the changes that are happening now, consumer goods businesses should prepare for what’s next.

Understanding your consumer in times of crisis

Consumers everywhere are deeply concerned about the impact of the pandemic, both from a health and economic perspective. People are responding in a variety of ways and there has been a steep shift in attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits. While at one end we have consumers, who are anxious and worried and responding through panic-buying of staples and hygiene products. At the other extreme, there are some, who remain indifferent to the pandemic and are continuing their business as usual. This throws a challenge at businesses to understand their consumer’s response and develop customized and personalized marketing strategies for each. The days of one-size-fits-all marketing are over.

Three consumer behavior trends have changed the way businesses operate. Businesses are pushed to an edge to adapt quickly in order to stay in the race.

#1 Emphasis on Essentials and Value

As economies are reopening and countries are trying to bring back normalcy, many consumers have been economically impacted due to the pandemic. Consumers are being mindful about their spending and are exploring lesser expensive products. As consumers are facing a prolonged period of financial uncertainty, they intend to continue shifting their spending largely to essentials, such as grocery and household supplies. 

#2 Rise in Online Sales

Most businesses have seen a rise in their online sales during the pandemic and many consumers say they plan to continue shopping online even when brick-and-mortar stores reopen. In addition to e-commerce, other digital and contactless services—including pickup and delivery are also seeing much higher adoption rates.

#3 Brand Adherence to Hygiene Protocols

When consumers are deciding where to shop, they are looking for retailers with safety measures such as enhanced cleaning and physical barriers. In addition, they buy more from companies and brands that have healthy and hygienic packaging and demonstrate care and concern.

During these testing times, consumers have a heightened awareness of how businesses interact with stakeholders, local communities, and society. The actions that businesses take during this pandemic are likely to be remembered long after COVID-19 is gone.