A key part of growing your business or corporate growth strategy is having an insight into consumer trends. If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that everything can change overnight and at the drop of a hat, and businesses of all sizes need to be able to pivot to these changes if they want to survive. The COVID-19 crisis changed the world as we know it, and it changed consumer sentiments, behaviors, and values most of all. Here are some consumer trends every business should know during the pandemic and how your business can ride the waves of these changes.
Values over profit
Even before COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic, customers were already moving towards conscious consumerism or choosing to support companies whose values align with theirs. This trend was propelled even further by the pandemic and the economic downturn that followed. More than ever, consumers have their eyes on large corporations and small businesses alike to see which ones prioritize people over profit.
While it’s true that you need to prioritize your business’s survival during times of economic upheaval, you can also do your part in helping others. Trying to survive and giving back to your community are not mutually exclusive; in fact, you might be able to do well by doing good as more people choose to engage with your business when they see what you’ve done for others during the crisis. Doing your part to help is not just a PR move; it’s a way to build community and remind people that private businesses can also act in the interest of those in the margins.
A focus on convenience
We’re one year into the pandemic, and most consumers have probably settled into a routine by now. Since so many corporations and platforms have stepped up their online presence, delivery process, and overall operations, consumers will continue to expect convenience from businesses. Subpar services will no longer cut it, and businesses need to continue to monitor their practices to ensure that consumers have a consistently smooth experience from browsing to checking out to receiving their parcels.
Marriage between physical and digital
Since the world is walking the thin line between having to keep a safe physical distance and opening businesses up again for the sake of the economy, the best solution is to combine our physical and digital worlds. Some supermarkets are already incorporating this, with some of them partnering with platforms like Open Table to allow consumers to book an appointment to avoid big crowds.
Consumers will benefit greatly from integrating our online processes with physical stores, with many tech companies already developing more tools for augmented reality (AR) and video reality (VR) to help consumers shop, learn, exercise, and socialize from the comforts and safety of their homes.
A report from June 2020 found that 66 percent of Americans were at the very least concerned about the idea of being infected by COVID-19. While there are certainly those who don’t take the virus seriously, many in the market remain safety-obsessed and would rather choose establishments that show they care about customer health and safety.
If you have opened your physical stores already, make sure to implement minimal public health standards—encourage mask-wearing and a physical distance of at least six feet, provide alcohol-based sanitizers in every area of the common areas, and find ways to improve your store’s ventilation. Once customers see your commitment to keeping them and your employees safe, they might be more inclined to support your business than other brands that show a laissez-faire attitude towards this disease.
Now more than ever, Americans are more aware of their spending habits and all the ways they need to cut back. Since the global economy is currently facing an uncertain future, discretionary spending is on the decline as consumers care more about products and services that are more value-adding in nature.
To adjust to this trend, make sure to provide your customers with money-saving propositions and affordable alternatives without sacrificing your product or service quality. This can take the form of promos or discounts. You can also launch new products or services that are centered on self-care, health, and wellness.
Given how the pandemic has changed consumer behavior and sentiment, companies need to stay aware of what trends are here to stay and make long-term changes to their operations according to those trends. If you keep prioritizing people over profit and investing in convenient technologies, there’s no reason why your business can’t continue to grow and expand despite the pandemic and the economic downturn.