Late-night eating out, enjoying weekend parties, and going out for pleasure shopping whenever we feel like - doing all this without a second thought about health. That was commonplace in the pre-COVID times. But today, consumers have changed. People are almost overwhelmed with the daily routines of using hand sanitizers and wearing masks.
According to a recent report by Mckinsey, the COVID-19 crisis has caused a rapid transformation in the behavior of consumers everywhere. For instance, in the US, 75% of consumers have tried a new store, a new brand, or a different way of shopping during the pandemic.
While stressing the urgent need to save lives, during the first lockdown in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai motto*.* It means that ‘there’s the world only when there’s life.’ He instilled the motto into the active consciousness of the entire nation. In the post-pandemic world, the importance of survival that comes with precaution and prevention measures will dominate the thinking of most consumers. Dr. Sandeep Goyal, a marketing specialist for 36 years, expressed this in ETBrandEquity’s Future Shock series.
While there are hundreds of marketing giants and specialists emphasizing the big change in consumer behavior, one thing is certain. Businesses must leverage deep consumer insights.
World Economic Forum’s The Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Markets, a project in collaboration with Bain & Company, focuses on emerging consumer behavior. The report covers 40% of the world’s population in ASEAN countries.
The pandemic has increasingly driven people to shop for disaster-preparedness products and daily essentials. Hence, value shopping is taking over premium shopping.
Forrestor’s report in Forbes magazine reveals consumers in the US and Europe are becoming more sensitive to brand values. It is a signal for companies to get more responsible with their branding.
As rural and low-income communities are gaining access to information, digital will begin to homogenize between them and their urban and higher-income counterparts. This will give opportunities for small businesses to deliver primary services such as healthcare with better price and quality.
However, another part of the world sets a different insight into motion. Recently, Walmart launched scan-and-go purchasing in brick-and-mortar stores indicating that consumers want a better experience online as well as offline. In fact, some of the most empowered consumers reveal they are likely to buy from retailers. But they would spend more time in physical stores once the distancing restrictions are lifted. So, we can see that the traditional tried-and-tested ways of buying that are ingrained in people’s routines are here to stay.
And older consumers not into online purchases are today enjoying the convenience of home delivery. Post pandemic, two out of three urbanites said one of their top priorities for purchases is convenience. In fact, the same ratio of consumers is willing to give up data privacy for convenience. WEF-Bain survey foresees this as a huge opportunity for fintech apps to streamline across verticals of essential shopping.
It is almost needless to say that for consumers ‘sustainability’ has now become non-negotiable. In the WEF-Bain study, 80% of ASEAN consumers said they value sustainability. They have shifted to a healthy lifestyle to become more eco-friendly.
Going forward, customers want value-based experiences, price, convenience without a trade-off. The most successful products and services of tomorrow will cater to all consumer motivations - simultaneously.
There are a specific group of words - you can say keywords - that have become consumer magnets in the post-COVID era. When these words appear on a TV ad, a digital ad, or a print ad, people have become almost prone to paying attention. Until now, you must have got an idea of the words. Of course, they are health-related and they seem to cause explosive attention.
‘Boost immunity’, is one term that’s getting an immense response everywhere. As immunity is one of the key weapons to fight the coronavirus, consumers are constantly looking for the most potent ways to gain it fast. Any word linked with immunity - like immunity supplements - is becoming a consumer magnet.
For example, The Future Shock series reveals that 17 out of the top 20 vitamin category products are immune-related. Vitamin C products account for 57% of the top 100 fastest growing vitamin products. And more consumers are likely to turn to immunity supplements in the effort to stay healthy.
‘Organic’ is another strong magnet attracting consumers. As we discussed that value-based shopping is rising, people are willing to pay more to get organic foods that come at a greater price than the common counterparts.
According to an Assocham study, the Indian organic market is expected to cross ₹2000 crore compared to the previous year when the market stood around ₹1200 crore. Not just in India, but organic food will also be reigning in other parts of the world. APEDA statistics show that Indian organic exports were ₹5151 last year. The number is expected to increase twofold in the upcoming year.
On the global level, the conventional allopathic treatment modality has been striving for almost a year to find the vaccine for COVID-19. In such unprecedented times, India’s centuries-old natural healing system of medicine ‘Ayurveda’ is making headlines. Daily practice of Pranayama, the regular use of Turmeric, Garlic, etc. are helping a large number of people.
Having recognized its significance, the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan backed the age-old system in the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.
The time-tested mantra of keeping mind and body healthy has also reached other parts of the world. International celebrities and experts are in agreement about the one-of-its-kind Ayurvedic therapy and its impact from a global perspective. Katy Perry, the famous global pop star, referred to her investigation into Ayurveda for some of her treatments in an interview with an Australian radio show.
And hence ‘Ayurvedic remedies’ are increasingly becoming consumer magnets in India and beyond.
As winter is here, there is a repeated sense of caution as coronavirus cases are again increasing in some parts of the world. There is uncertainty from COVID-19 and its impact is being felt differently in countries.
Mckinsey reports that consumers in China, India, and Indonesia are showing higher optimism than the rest of the world. In Europe and Japan, there is less optimism especially about their respective countries’ economic conditions after COVID-19. Optimism is on a steady decline in Europe (except Italy) due to the rising confirmed cases.
And the lingering uncertainty is reflecting in some way in the consumers buying behavior. This comes with customers needing more information about a product or service. Not having enough experience or evidence to guarantee the performance are also major drivers.
COVID-19 has greatly shifted consumer’s preference towards brands that offer farm to factory visibility.
And the bigger the purchase in terms of cost, the bigger is the uncertainty. Optimism too has an essential role to play here.
Ten years ago, 39% of US online adults were willing to try out new brands. Today, the percentage is 53%. As more brands are giving consumers the opportunity to test their products the uncertainty is being addressed. This report is as per Forbes.
So if your brand wants to reduce the uncertainty in consumer behavior, you need to feed their appetite for more information and experimentation. Some of the best ways are to provide testimonials, free product trials, and references from past clients.
A pleasant surprise for brands is that you can influence and change your consumer’s behavior. According to behavioral science, recognizing new beliefs, habits, and “peak moments” is the key to driving the change.
Mckinsey explains five actions that can help businesses reshape their consumer’s behavior for a long period.
When consumers have a surprising and delightful new experience, even long-standing beliefs can change. It can evoke the desire to repeat the action even when the current trigger (pandemic) is gone.
The US market for digital home-exercise machines has increased by 20%. It is possible that people who tried a home fitness routine for the first time during the pandemic thought that they could not meet their exercise needs at home. This belief has clearly changed as 55% who tried online fitness programs and 65% who tried digital exercise machines say they will continue using them even when fitness centers and gyms reopen.
Brands can encourage new habits through product innovation.
For example, Unilever reported a sales hike in beverages that contain zinc and vitamin C like Lipton Immune Support Tea. Now the company is launching such products on the global level. This is one way you can align innovation with consumers' changing health and wellness concerns.
When a consumer begins to associate certain behavior with a particular context, that eventually turns into a habit.
For instance, consumers are keeping sanitizers and disinfecting wipes near entryways as a reminder to keep their hands clean.
Product packaging and marketing that strengthens 'put-it-by-the-door' behavior can help consumers keep up the habit.
And thus companies should ensure that all their brand communications are in line with consumer sentiment.
McKinsey's consumer-sentiment report reveals that consumers are taking note of how businesses are treating their employees during the crises. So, the quality of your company's communication to strike through the right tone will increasingly become a competitive edge.
Customer beliefs, habits, emotional-need conditions will continue to evolve rapidly over the next one or two years as the world waits for the vaccine.
Hence, brands must carry out deep multifaceted research into consumer insights. The focus should be on changed behaviors, associated changed beliefs, and motivators to get a comprehensive picture of consumers' decision journey.
In the current situation of crisis, people are feeling a sense of fear, vulnerability, and uncertainty that has come with the disease. Products and services that are part and parcel of people’s daily life have a golden opportunity to empower consumers. Brands are addressing consumer sentiment with empathy. Brand communication must be more transparent than ever to build a sense of trust and reliability. And hence, PulsAero is standing with brands to help them craft their identity, messages, and overall image in line with consumer desires.
Using our expertise in research, we carry out an in-depth analysis of your target consumer from all perspectives considering the rapidly changing times. And with a nuanced understanding of the changed beliefs, habits, and peak moments of your target consumer, we build for you innovative customer experiences and marketing communications.
We know you want your brand to thrive in the new normal. So, let’s connect!
Hope our compilation of the consumer insights helps you :)