The impact of the pandemic on consumer buying behavior has been substantial. Almost overnight, online shopping became the norm, spending turned more frugal, and experience turned out to be the most desirable product. But as things move back to somewhat normal with restrictions lifting, brands are anxious – rightly so – to find out which of these consumer shopping trends will last post-pandemic and which are just a fad.
Kadence International recently conducted a market survey on this very topic and had some definitive results to draw on. According to the survey results, three main behaviors emerged with the most potential to become lifelong consumer habits.
With these behaviors influencing the consumer barometer now and in the foreseeable future, how ready is your brand to serve your market?
Across countries and categories, the shift to digital has been one of the most persistent pandemic-related changes. Even before the pandemic, brands were moving towards a digital-first strategy, a trend that the pandemic strengthened and escalated.
If you want to keep your brand relevant to the post-pandemic consumer, making your digital presence the first touch-point for your consumers is essential.
The assets that you will need for a strong digital existence include:
Brands that can establish a commanding presence online stand to gain the most as the pandemic-induced shift to digital becomes more permanent and lasting. Online audiences have been aware of brands that always present themselves impeccably online. With even more people online now, expectations from brands have soared.
Whether people are shopping online, learning a new skill on YouTube, or looking for healthy recipes on Google, they are essentially taking part in experiences. If you want people to keep remaining engaged with you, you need to figure out the kind of CX you are creating.
Sure, it needs to be personalized and come with excellent customer service. But that’s just scratching the surface. To create an unforgettable customer experience, you must deliver in 3 key areas:
People are not looking to buy expensive products. Discounts, deals, and coupons will go a long way in endearing your brand to the post-pandemic consumer. Curb-side deliveries, free shipping, and contactless payments have also proven to add convenience to customer journeys. And if you can provide these incredible experiences with consistency – day in and day out, on every sale and every transaction – it’ll soon translate to unwavering customer trust that your competitors will be challenged to match.
If you are not micro-targeting, you are adding an expiration date to your brand relevance. The consumer of the future has already changed beyond imagination. While some changes will fade away with time, shifted priorities have segregated consumers into micro-segments. Citing the survey findings of the EY Future Consumer Index, Harvard Business Review reports five key areas of consumer segmentation:
These percentages refer to the number of people surveyed who make their buying decisions based on one of these five factors. As a brand, if your primary offer is sustainability, you may be tapping into the 31% of consumer population [planet + society]. Segments of consumers may even let you get away with premier prices because you provide greater value, and your customer pool is larger.
But, if your sole focus is on experience, it alone won’t get you far, no matter how great you make it. You are still only attracting 12% of the pie. Therefore, understanding the pulse points of different consumer cohorts and positioning your brand in a way that offers the most value to the most segments is how you ensure your brand is ready to serve the consumer in 2022 and beyond.
The impact of the pandemic on consumer buying behavior has been decisive. It will take some serious adaptability on your part to keep your brand relevant to this new market where your existing knowledge has limited applications. Understanding where your consumers are coming from and learning what they are looking for in their brand interactions is the only way to keep your head afloat before you can get back on the board and surf the waves again.