Four months after COVID-19 first appeared in the US, physical distancing measures continue to drive down demand for several industries. Consumer behavior from just two months ago is no longer relevant because massive economic shifts are forcing people to change the way they live, work, shop and socialize. Buying habits are different as in-store traffic dwindles, in-person events grind to a halt and digital channels offer a safe alternative.
While some of these changes are just a sign of the times, others will stick around. Digitally-enabled brands that adapt now will not only survive in the short-term, they will position themselves for success in a post-pandemic world.
Huge Shifts in Consumer Behavior
To paint the picture, let’s look at some of the major shifts in consumer behavior and their impacts:
- Grocery Shopping: Grocery stores are seeing behavior changes in two main areas. First is increased foot traffic brought on by the need to hunker down and save money. Second is shoppers choosing to shop from the safety of their own home through online grocery ordering and home delivery. Many stores are either offering this channel for the first time or expanding it more than ever before.
- Working from Home: Other than for essential workers, many businesses have closed their physical locations, forcing employees to work from the comfort of their home. This naturally leads to more time spent online and in front of the computer screen. The increased traffic offers an opportunity for brands to get in front of customers at a time where traditional channels are not seeing as many impressions.
- Socializing: Physical distancing and isolation can cause loneliness and pose a threat to mental health. Tack on the stress of an economic down-turn, and people are flocking to social media networks and video chat to connect with others. Similar to the work from home behavior, this means more online traffic and more potential impressions for brands.
Digital Trends Will Stick
Fears revolving around the health threat of coronavirus are to blame for these changes, but some behaviors are short-term while others might be here to stay. For instance, the TP sprees are likely to die down once the immediate threat of the virus disappears. On the other hand, some digital trends could stick. For example:
- Grocery Shopping: For some consumers, these times might shed a light on the fact that cooking from home is easier than they thought (and easier on their wallet) – especially with more home delivery options.
- Working from Home: Companies could realize that working from home is not as detrimental to productivity as they projected – plus it decreases overhead costs.
- Socializing: Family and friends, especially older adults, are getting a crash course in online communication. Understanding these channels better will boost confidence in using them in the future.
Are You Digitally Enabled for Change?
These times of uncertainty can be scary, but they are fleeting. It’s important that, while we march on, we also adapt to the changing marketing landscapes. Many of the buying behaviors we’re seeing these days will bounce back to normal. Others will be here to stay. Brands that adjust their marketing strategies to focus on digital channels will preserve and continue to thrive for years to come. Are you enabled for change?