Four Post-Pandemic Consumer Predictions

Doesn’t it feel like the world has changed more in the last two months than it had in the past ten years? A recent viral video that tries to explain the current pandemic to one’s previous self has gone viral for a reason. Our daily routines, how we can (and can’t) interact, what we’re prioritizing, and most other elements of daily life look worlds different today. With so much change having taken place over a short span of time, it seems evident that we’ll come out of this very different creatures. In broad strokes, let’s consider how consumer mindsets have already and will continue to shift post-pandemic.

Count on the Irrational

In a Bloomberg Opinion piece last week, retail futurist Doug Stephens talked about how spending helps us as humans tolerate and distract ourselves from our mortality. While a heavy thought, he’s right – spending helps us both feel like we have some control over our circumstances and it also boosts our personal self-esteem. (You don’t have to tell us twice as to why, in times like these, we’re gravitating towards purchases like exercise bikes or anti-aging creams.)

But even as this framework reflects our current behavior, in the world of the consumer, many decisions are simply not rational. A sunny outlook on things can shift to the dark and gloomy just by reading the wrong article or tweet. Compounding that issue today is increased screen time conveying ever-multiplying sources of information, and you can see that many consumers, for the foreseeable future, are going to be experiencing shifting emotions and purchase behaviors. (And let’s be clear, much of this is also dictated by financial means – also in flux for many.)

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As a brand, you can best be prepared for these “mood swings” through listening and engagement. Gather feedback often, be attuned to small shifts in purchase behavior, and engage with the customer across different channels to capture what they’re really thinking.

Health Takes on New Dimensions

While “wellness” was already a booming global movement and market, our collective awareness of health and what that means in our daily lives has taken on new dimensions in this crisis. Through it we’ve come to understand our actions not only impact ourselves, but they also impact the health and wellness of others.

So you’re not a brand who sits in the intersection of health and wellness – the good news is that there are still plenty of opportunities to engage authentically and in ways that you may not immediately connect to the health and wellness conversation. To start, think about these ideas around the different touchpoints related to health:

How can you promote positive mental health with uplifting and inclusive messages and content for your customer?

Are you promoting good habits like movement and self-care?

Do your stores feel clean and safe for shoppers?

How are you protecting the health and wellness of workers across your supply chain?

These are just a few of the ways in which health will be at the forefront of consumer psyche for years to come, and now’s the time to re-align your business towards these new (and renewed) priorities.

Making the Tradeoff between Local and Large

There’s been an ongoing conversation around whether the small “mom and pop” brands will survive the pandemic, with larger brands having more resources to carry them through the longer-term uncertainty, especially when it comes to digital infrastructure, last-mile delivery options, and access to vast supply chains. While we’ve never been more reliant on delivery services to provide our “essential” goods like groceries, even the large players have faced problems meeting rising demand. So where the major retailers have been unable to meet said demand, consumers have increasingly turned to local stores.

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So how will a consumer choose between the local versus the big-box stores? While the current choice has been driven by necessity, it will also be driven by category of purchase. When it comes to things like groceries, we’ll often opt for the most convenient option (delivery, auto-refill, etc.) On the other hand, for things one “keeps” like apparel and decor, we believe more and more consumers will choose local. The locally-made brand tells buyers who’s making it, who’s profiting from the sale – a sale which tends to keep the money in the local community.

No matter where you might sit on the scale of “bigness,” stay attuned of how shoppers are making their channel choices.

More Engaged, More Vocal

During quarantine, brands have been getting creative on how to strengthen connections with shoppers, beyond the transaction. Take, for example, Bottega Veneta’s “Residency,” where they curate playlists, classes, movies, and other content across a diverse number of global channels including Instagram, Youtube, Weibo, WeChat, Line, Kakao, and Spotify.

Other brands have created interactive challenges for customers, to create new designs or share images of themselves at home, all with a dotted line back to the brand. These interactions unlock the ability to identify your most engaged followers and even tap into their creativity for future product ideas.

With more brands taking this opportunity to engage on a personal level with the consumer, it’s likely the consumer will want more of the same going forward. They will want to be part of the product development process, give feedback that is actually heard, and receive more personal service.

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What shifts do you think will drive future consumer behavior? Let us know what you think!