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The "New Normal" is Permanent: How COVID is Shifting Consumer Behaviors, Now and Forever

The "New Normal" is Permanent

 

When the global pandemic hit, many industries saw disruption. Our society experienced major changes in every aspect of our lives, from work to shopping to social interaction.

Months later, we’ve entered into a “new normal.” But is the new normal here to stay?

As we get used to the changes we’ve experienced and adjust our preferences, consumer behavior is changing

Consumer research shows that even once lockdowns and restrictions ease and our lives return to normal, some of the changes we’ve made are here to stay.

Read on to find out what the research says about the shifts in consumer behavior, and what that means for you and your product business.

 

Money Matters Now More than Ever

For many families, the pandemic brought major financial concerns. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, children had to stay home due to school closures, requiring many parents to either seek daycare or give up working, and hundreds of thousands of small businesses have closed their doors permanently.

The result is that consumers are dealing with money in a new way. Those who can afford to do so are saving money more than ever. That mindset isn’t likely to fade away. According to a new Brandwatch Report, 68% of people who are currently saving more intend to do so even after the pandemic.

Historically, that’s not a surprising trend. The Great Depression contributed to a sense of frugality and creative thriftiness so strong that many who grew up in that era still carry it today.

We’re seeing the same frugal mindset now. But it’s also changing consumer priorities in what they do buy. With the poverty gap being wider than ever before, that desire to save isn’t feasible for all Americans.

Those who can’t realistically save more are finding other ways to be frugal. Instead, they’re shifting their spending toward essential items. 28% of consumers believe that a product’s low price matters to them now more than before. 30% said that the durability and quality of items are more important now.

The Takeaway

Product businesses are going to have to tap into this new mindset to attract customers. If you’re not providing essential items of some sort, such as food, groceries, clothing, or toiletries, this might be the perfect time to expand your product base.

You also want to play to a sense of frugality with your marketing and pricing. Try offering discounts on bulk purchases, or loyalty rewards to incentivize buyers. Highlight your products’ sensibility and durability. Most importantly, give more than you get. Find a way to show your customers that you’re committed to offering value.

 

Shop Local will Continue to Trend

Consumers aren’t just more concerned about trying to save money. They’re also thinking more about where their money is going, and who their money is supporting.

The hashtag ShopLocal had more mentions in the first two months of the pandemic than they did last November and December. Given the popularity of Small Business Saturday and shopping local during the holidays, that’s a big deal.

Brandwatch says that 33% of consumers surveyed said they care more now about their products being locally sourced. Consumers are seeing the economic impact on their friends, neighbors, and community. They want to support struggling businesses and they want their money making a difference.

The Takeaway

This is good news for all businesses. If we know what consumers want, we know how to reach them. If you run a small business, be proud of your small business status. Now is the time to share your story and put out content letting customers get to know the you behind the business.

If your business is larger, don’t despair. You can still display your ethics and attract customers. Consider giving to charities or raising funds for small businesses with each purchase. Let consumers see why shopping with you is an ethical choice and how you will put their money to good use for the world.

 

The "New Normal" is Permanent2

Health and Wellness are Skyrocketing

Health and wellness have been gaining popularity steadily over the last decade. COVID has only exaggerated that.

Consumers are more focused on health and hygiene than ever before. Hygiene products can barely stay stocked even now, six months after the domestic outbreak. 

Along with that comes an increased focus on healthy eating, at-home fitness, and shopping for products that are natural and organic. 36% of consumers say they care more about products being healthy than they did before.

The Takeaway

This one all comes down to your product offering and your positioning. If you sell fitness products or products that are healthy, natural, or organic, you’re in luck. Focus your marketing on those aspects of your products and your business.

If your product offering doesn’t fall into those categories, that’s okay. You just might need to get creative. Either expand your product offerings or figure out a new spin to put on the products you already have. If you sell sugary snacks, for example, you might have to appeal to a desire to treat yourself or splurge rather than focusing just on how good your product tastes.

 

The New Normal is Permanent How COVID is Shifting Consumer Behaviors, Now and Forever

Online Shopping is King: Now and Forever

E-commerce has boomed massively since COVID hit, and it’s easy to see why. As people stayed home, it made more sense for them to seek online options that came straight to their doors.

On top of that, scarcity in stores made turning to online stores necessary for items people usually bought at brick-and-mortar businesses.

Almost 25% of people surveyed said that they purchased groceries online during the pandemic when they wouldn’t have normally done so. 21% said the same for toiletries and beauty products, 20% for clothes, and 8% for furniture. 

But this isn’t a temporary shift. More than 50% of new online shoppers said they would continue to seek online options for those purchases post-outbreak. 73% of those who purchased clothing online will continue to do so. More than 60% of those who purchased furniture and groceries said the same, and just under 60% of those who purchased toiletries or beauty products online plan to do so as well. 

The online shopping increase didn’t come without a downside though. More than a quarter of people who purchased online stated that there had been issues with orders. The primary downside was delivery problems, followed by difficulty finding products in stock and frustration with the ordering process.

The Takeaway

Online shopping is here to stay. It was already growing in popularity, but the outbreak has sealed the deal.

If you aren’t set up online, you absolutely must make a shift in order to thrive in the coming years. This means making sure you have a solid manufacturing plan and delivery system in place, making your online store easy to purchase from, and amping up your digital marketing game.

Most importantly, your customer service needs to be top-notch. Consumers should feel as good as dealing with online purchases from you as they do after a positive face-to-face interaction.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon your brick-and-mortar set-up. There will be consumers who prefer an in-person experience. You might need to offer incentives when the time comes to draw them in, though.

The bottom line? Consumer behavior is changing, but your product business can continue to succeed. You just have to pay attention to trends and desires and meet your customers’ needs!

If you’re ready to embrace the online world but aren’t sure where to start with your website, check out our post The Importance of Email Marketing in 2020 and Beyond (Plus Our Tips for How to Do it Right) next!

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