Marketing and Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes

Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes and Life as we knew it is no longer business as usual.

Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes means that the way we consumer Live, Work, Play and Shop have all changed.  Our loved ones, friends, extended families, colleagues, suppliers, customers, clients, services … you name it … have changed, some forever and some short-term.

There is no rule book, and we can only speculate and fantasize about the new normal but adapting to this Change is not optional for businesses.  Appropriate responses ‘Now’ and strategizing for ‘Next’ is the only way to grow and sustain a successful business.

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The challenges are many but with the right mindset, every challenge offers up an opportunity.  In this article, I intend to highlight some of these in the hope that it makes you think and take action!

The Faster you RESPOND, the stronger you will RECOVER.

Let’s share some ideas you can develop to reframe the future of your business.

Happenings Ushered in by Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes

1. ECONOMIC TURNDOWN

The impact of an economic downturn is all too familiar.  Too many of us are all familiar with the impact of 2008. With a brave heart and a healthy bank balance we had great hopes, relocated, invested in property development and to be honest we have never fully recovered from the experience.  So, it is what it is.  Let’s move on.

We see constant reminders of this reality all around us, so I’m not going to elaborate on this, suffice to say that my primary objective here is to provide insights and ideas that can be implemented without re-mortgaging your home. 

2. DIGITAL ACCELERATION

The most significant Covid-19 development that impacts consumer behaviour now and into the future is Digital Acceleration. 

 “We have Covered a Decade in Days”.

McKinsey and Co

Ecommerce deliveries achieved the same growth in 8 weeks that was achieved over 10 years Before Covid (BC).

Video conferencing grew x20 in the first 3 months of the pandemic.

Netflix growth was up from 2,15 million at the end of 2019 subscribers and exceeded 200 million at the end of 2020.

Disney Plus achieved in 2 months what Netflix did in 7 years.

D2C (DIRECT TO CONSUMER), the bypassing of wholesalers and retailers, exploded. 

3. PREFERENCE SHIFTS

Digital Acceleration coupled with your consumer Preference Shifts has created a focus on digital marketing and the need to take your business online to survive.

Ey.com puts consumers into niche buckets that make it easier to understand, describe and therefore target with appropriate marketing.

Save & Stockpile

Does the panic buying of toilet paper worldwide ring a bell?

Because of shortages, the natural reaction is to buy the whole lot when we see it back on the shelf.  How can you as a business owner increase basket size or ease panic behaviour? What about an automated top-up order list that you send to customers when they are getting low?  This may require you to revisit the package size to suit new consumption rates.

Whilst stock-piling has eased, I, myself am guilty.  HP Sauce is no longer widely available on the shelves.  I am buying up every bottle I find!  More about ‘saving’ behaviour further down … keep reading.

Cut Deep & Reduce

Covers those who are taking great care to watch their pennies,  minimalizing everything and are focused on essentials because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  The trick is to understand what they value and prioritise to understand their essentials.

Stay Calm & Carry

I guess this is me.  I am trying hard to ignore the drama, conspiracy theories, and sensationalism while continuing life as normal. My focus is on staying safe, avoiding exposure and doing the best I can to support clients, family and a teeny circle of friends.  The most notable impact is that my circle has shrunk big time and my scope of influence has changed to online communities and experts in various fields.

Hibernate & Spend

The more fortunate among us gratify their ego and self-esteem with high-end purchases and non-essential treats.

Covid-19 Behaviour Changes, Problems and Solutions

Your customers are adopting new behaviours, habits, values that have changed:

  •  What they buy;
  • How they buy;
  • Where they buy.

These are ideas to help you tweak your product/services or pivot your business. 

I urge you to do it NOW because the faster you respond, the most successful you’ll be.  We’ll start with the most obvious but rather than skim over, ponder a new opportunity.

Social Distancing and Isolation   

Create and or host chats, virtual events, build niche interest communities. 

What else can you do?

Wearing Masks                

Covid mask and behaviour changes

Well, Masks have become a fashion statement.

It’s a part of everyday life and we see many people have taken the opportunity to build a business, designing masks for every conceivable niche.

Eyes are getting so much attention – lashes and brows have become big business.

On the flip side, think about when and how you can Drop that Mask to be visible, real and therefore accessible for your audience to connect. Getting raw and real, face-to-face is a meaningful way to create awareness and build trust.

Restrictions on Travel    

Our leisure travel, commuting, business travel, a trip to the shops and complying with curfew has changed Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour.

To satisfy my need to see beautiful places, I am spending an inordinate amount of time on Instagram Reels to be reminded of how much I still have to see and do.  It’s my happy space, my substitute for travel.

Importantly, the world has experienced an increase in Domestic Travel.  People are looking Local for entertainment and ideas are found online – articles, social media visuals, peer recommendations, and offers.

‘Out of Home’ advertising is a marketing tactic that needs adapting.  Travel Restrictions mean your billboard and street poles have limited but high impact opportunities.  How can this work for you, physically and digitally?

I have to highlight the LOUD online Ad noise demands that you get smart – more niche, natural, organic, entertaining but less polished and salesy will get attention.

Working from Home and Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes

Working from home and the challenges that have come with that is something that is not going to change that significantly in the new normal.

Work from home and Covid-19 behaviour changes

Businesses are finding that staff is more productive with flexible working hours. It is suiting their responsibilities to their families, their homes, their personal needs for fitness etc. and of course it’s saving corporates a lot of money.

Think of the coffee station alone!

Online Meetings, more commonly referred to as a “Zoom”.  Zoom added more than 2,22 million monthly active users in 2020 compared to less than 2 million in 2019.  People who are not embracing online meetings and investing time to learn how to communicate and connect this way are missing an opportunity to grow business.

If you have not overcome the fear of being on screen and found a way to educate and promote your business using virtual formats, then this should be your number one focus when you have finished reading!

Working from home has ushered in tremendous Family Challenges that need solutions.  People with childcare and education skills have opportunities galore to entertain, teach and provide in-home services, both digital and physical.

Services that help Connectivity and Cyber risk. Cyber risk is huge and most people don’t even understand to be safe, optimise and get the best deal.

Noise is my personal irritation.  I have worked from home for many years which is why the “Staying Calm and Carrying on” has not been such a big adjustment. BUT my neighbours who were adjusting to this are another story.

I am investing in anything that reduces noise and helps my sanity.  I believe optimising people’s workspace leaves room for business growth.

Nesting                                             

We are forced to spend a lot more time at home and for those who were used to coming home, eating, sleeping and spending the day out; this is a biggie.

I alluded to in-home services earlier and extra classes, swimming lessons, craft, care are just a few services that come to mind to support parents.  How about a local outdoor craft workshop for kiddies with all the necessary ‘keep safe’ protocols in place?  The benefits would be too many to mention.

Self-care?  My hairdresser’s home visits are my favourite.

Online education and ‘how-to’ tutorials are business opportunities that are still wide open.  Supply the ingredients and make a date to teach people to cook, bake or do home crafts.  PRO TIP: Try it Live when it suits them, engage real-time and share once you have a whole lot of engagement that adds fuel to your content and helps the algorithm reach more prospects.   

Instead of sending a book or audio for a special occasion, I am reading and recording in my voice to be more present and have a lasting impact.

Interpersonal Behaviour              

Coaching and support needs must be exploding.  It is no surprise that people are forgetting or missing the opportunity to learn and develop interpersonal skills; we know divorce rates are up; spousal and child abuse statistics are awful and give us a glimpse of what is happening behind closed doors.

If this was my space, I would be working night and day to find and provide solutions to these problems.  Social media is your friend here to invite people to 1-2-1 counselling on messenger and on to join groups that provide a haven for like-minded people.

Pet adoptions

Pet Adoption is a significant Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Change

Too many people have adopted pets to fill a gap in their lives, but are not used to having pets. This space leaves opportunities for business development and growth wide open with everything from care, health and nutrition, help, insurance, training, accessories etc.

Restrictions on Life Events           

This has been painful and will leave lasting scars to mark Covid-19.  I don’t think anyone and been through the past year without regretting their absence at a big birthday, anniversary, weddings or birth celebration.

More painful, not being there to support people through terminal illnesses, saying good-byes and showing their respect at funerals.

There simply must be some ingenious ways to ease this pain … a scrapbooking page or a photo book to save forever memories or an audio eulogy.

Healthier Lifestyle                         

Our new normal has forced increased awareness of health and hygiene.

Awareness of this critical behaviour change by the majority of your prospects and clients should inform new or pivoted offers.

People are looking for help to make the most healthy choice whether it is a physical product, place, product or service; or learning more digitally and getting the reassurances they need to go ahead and buy without risk.

Supplements, mental health, safe places, nutrition, diet … find your gap!

Shopping is one of the major Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes                   

All generations right across the globe have adopted a millennial mindset and are more online savvy.

Don’t lose sight of those that still need urging and help to adapt seamlessly.  We assume our systems and procedures work but when last did you call your telephone number, submit an enquiry, buy from your own online store?  Often getting a total outsider to visit your platforms,  navigate about and make a purchase will reveal blocks and barriers that causing abandonment.

Loyalty has taken on a new dimension because people are forced to try new things. As a result loyalty shifts easily.  If people like their trial and have an enjoyable user experience, the chances of their adopting that new product are high.  Ensure you are not losing people because of friction in your conversion funnel or poor customer service. 

Another consumer behaviour to take note of is that Safe Shopping is taking priority over Satisfaction. People will go for shorter queues, fewer people, better safety, better hygiene even if the choice is not the widest.

Buying Local more including organic, artisanal, handmade and visiting local open-air markets.  Promote Buy Local, create events and share location on social media.

Fresh and healthy home delivery orders or drive-by and collect are opportunities to explore.

Less frequency, bigger baskets means looking into package sizes and shipping incentives.  Encourage buy more and save

An Irresistible Offer.  Interestingly, millennial and other savvy online shoppers are learning to research more effectively. They are Deal Hunting and comparing prices.  Clear & obvious deals, reducing risk, clear return policies, reassurance, testimonials, FAQs and stellar customer service will increase conversion.

As we have learned, people are prepared to try new things and once you get them through the door, and exceed expectations you’ve got a new customer.

Trading Down and focusing on Essentials. If a segment of your market is in the ‘Cut deep & Reduce” niche you must be making your unique selling point in a way that helps them rate your product/service as critical and something they cannot do without. 

Hand in hand with this behaviour is the reduction of discretionary spending unless of course your customer is a Hibernate and Spend kinda guy or gal.  In which case you would upsell and cross-sell to introduce more and better of the same.  Example:  Appeal to those who partake in the annual luxury ski holiday with an ultimate alternative such as a Super Car that will tick all their ego boxes and justify the indulgent purchase.    

Online Services                               

Probably more by need than design and “do-or-die”, reality shows that people are becoming less sceptic. 

online buying behaviour due to the covid-19 pandemic

They are now on multiple channels including Social Media, Marketplaces, eCommerce, local stores websites, subscribing to newsletters, etc.

People have many more choice choices than ever before because the world has become a virtual oyster!

I created an online store during the early months of lockdown and have been very disappointed with the results. Researching and preparing this blog has helped me identify various reasons for the ‘failure’, the most important of which is that my niche was too specialised to attract enough traffic with a limited Ad Budget; but more noteworthy, people are spoilt (read negative version!) for choice with too many online shops which many people, like me, are trying to set up a new business.

It makes sense therefore that newbies are sticking with known brands unless the deal is irresistible as already pointed out.  Marketplaces like Zando, One Day Only, Takealot, Amazon are booming.  They have the choice, the reputation and the traffic.

My advice if you have a small range or a homemade product to test, that you avoid the pain and possible expense of setting up your online store and Test with one of the giants first.  There are so many components to marketing, managing inventory, shipping and customer service which I found out when my store was ‘built’.  Once you know your product is viable, build that business with blinkers off and nothing will hold you back.

Other ways to leverage these less sceptical consumers is to provide online self-service e.g. insurance claims, applications and vetting, submitting scripts, document signing and insurance claims.  An example of appropriate behaviour during a crisis and a shoutout for ABSA home loans who offered a Bond Holiday via SMS with a simple “Press 1 to Optin”. 

STRATEGIZING appropriate responses will come out of analysing the “CUSTOMER JOURNEY’, the Digital and physical Touchpoints to identify Gaps.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY and Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes

Dream                          
  • What do they wish for, what do they want to be different?
  • How have their values and priorities changed?
  • What transformation are they dreaming of?
Engage                               

Where are they having conversations and sharing opinions?

Research & Learn            

  • How do they get their information?
  • What is helping them to take the next step?
Buying                                

How can you fulfil expectations in a way that Delights?

Amazon employed +175 000 new employees to ensure they can deliver.

Experiencing                     

The McKinsey & Co Report identifies Higher Expectations from Business as one subtle Covid-19 behaviour change.

  • What response is your Businesses presenting during this crisis?
  • A better digital experience is key to retaining clients and reducing friction is critical or they will shift.
  • What new Products/Services or Support do they want?
  • How can you stay connected, show empathy and accessibility?

Example:  Heineken noted their consumers were missing Live Music with their frosty so started streaming DJ Sessions.  This move not only created a positive customer experience but also built loyalty among consumers by behaving appropriately i.e. helping entertainers under threat with restrictions on live events.

Sharing                               

Referrals are bigger than ever.  Listen in to Groups and Forums!

CONCLUSION

More people are online than ever, the challenge is to go to them.  Find your Niche, Update your Ideal Customer Avatars, study their new problems and challenges, understand the transformation they seek and BOOM! You have found yourself a gap to fill.

Go WHERE they are to listen in and learn because you can no longer assume what is important and how the Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes are playing out.

Thanks to ey.com these NICHE BUCKETS are a good place to start working on a strategy to respond to Covid-19 Behaviour Changes:
  • Save & Stockpile
  • Cut Deep & Reduce
  • Stay Calm & Carry on
  • Hibernate & Spend

Bridge the online divide and pay attention to considerations that include the choice of platforms, tech, automation, service levels,  adding value to the digital chain.

Challenges to overcome include 1-2-1 engagement, getting comfortable with virtual meetings, scaling services and delivering Customer Service with limited resources.  PRO TIP:  A powerful FREE tool at your disposal is Facebook Messenger. Install chat on your website and enable on your Page Call to Action … you can respond easily and promptly from anywhere.

Breakthrough the noise with empathy and calling on your understanding about what your customers are looking fo Sell less and support more!

How you are responding to the Covid-19 Behaviour Changes?

Suze Bouwer, REdMatchstick, Marketing Coach and Enabler

Suze Bouwer, owner and creator of RedMatchstick.com is a marketing coach, content creator and enabler.

Suze shares advice and tips freely but for those who are tired of struggling alone and need to make progress faster, she invites business owners and marketers to engage directly to solve problems and dissolve marketing barriers that impede growth.

Services include Tools and courses to DO-IT-YOURSELF, opt-in for Coaching and DO-IT-WITH-YOU or sign up for specific DO-IT-FOR-YOU services including content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing or creating a conversion funnel.

Contact Suze TODAY to help you with marketing for Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes.  

2 thoughts on “Marketing and Covid-19 Consumer Behaviour Changes

  1. Thank you for this – have been through it step by step – made notes and found at least 10 things to help going forward so very much appreciated.

    • I am so pleased this was useful. Let us know how your implementation goes!

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