This new pandemic took the world by surprise. People all around the globe have seen how COVID changed the way they socialize and even how they shop. Consumer behaviour changed because of the life changes brought about by the virus and the restrictions imposed to curb the number of cases. The lockdowns also showed how marketing influences consumer behaviour even with very limited ways to reach out to people.
Organizations like Accenture have conducted studies to understand how COVID-19 has affected consumer behaviour especially in dealing with local businesses. Tracking COVID-related behaviours and sentiments in the months since early 2020 unlocked doors for understanding the role of local businesses in meeting consumer needs even in the midst of a pandemic. And the most vital tool? A reliable internet in Saskatchewan.
As the world has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the way people shop also drastically became different. Supply chains have been tested and most retailers had to close their doors due to government restrictions. Consumers around the world are looking at brands, products, and services through a different lens. Thankfully, marketers were quick to their feet in reaching out to consumers. Various research groups found that new habits were formed during the pandemic and are expected to be ingrained in them even beyond it. Here’s how marketing influences consumer behaviour during the time of COVID:
Behaviour in the time of crisis
In countries that were heavily impacted by COVID-19 like Canada, consumers stock food and other essentials as they were isolated from crowds. The Nielsen group conducted shopper behaviour research from the beginning of the pandemic in China and extended to other countries. These were the 6 observable behavioural stages that consumers exhibited based on their awareness of the COVID-19 spread in their area:
- Proactive health-minded buying – There is an increased interest in acquiring products that maintain health and well-being.
- Reactive health management – There is a prioritization of products meant to control and contain infections like face masks and alcohol.
- Pantry preparation – There are higher purchases of shelf-safe products and more frequent store visits.
- Quarantined living preparation – Online shopping becomes more frequent while store visits become lesser.
- Restricted living – Possibility of price gouging because of limited supplies and deterred online fulfillment.
- Living in the new normal – There is increased health awareness even if people start to return to their typical activities.
Novel shopping preferences
When consumers faced different shopping restrictions, they found and adopted newer ways to shop with the help of technology. Perhaps one of the most tangible proofs of how marketing influences consumer behaviour is when some local businesses experienced a surge in orders as clients found their ads online.
Before COVID-19 the usage of online shopping platforms and self-checkout systems was popular only among the younger generations. Even then, the majority of the transactions made online are for wants and not much for needs. However, due to the pandemic, people from earlier generations are starting to use these platforms as a safe and valid option to obtain groceries and other essentials. But aside from these needs, there was also a significant increase in demand for other products like entertainment and media.
Relying on Manufacturers
When COVID lockdowns happened, a majority of supplies were restricted, which posed various challenges in the supply chain. Now, instead of waiting on distribution channels, consumers found Direct to Consumer (D2C) manufacturers to order and receive the goods that they need within a particular timeframe. By adopting marketing and delivery options for their market, a majority of D2C was able to sustain their momentum and lessen the blow of quarantine restrictions.
Trust and Loyalty
One of the most important considerations to entice consumers to shop from local businesses is trust. When brands foster lasting loyalty, the sales become more stable regardless of the difficulties of the situation. Brands should not just meet client expectations, they should exceed them. Here are some approaches that can help:
- Ease the transition – Make sure that the transition is as seamless as possible so consumers can switch to online shopping without difficulty. You can provide flexibility in payment options and make it easy for clients to find what they need. This is most helpful for consumers who are emerging into e-commerce platforms for the first time.
- Manage expectations – Display the stock level information, especially for sought-after goods. Make sure to be clear about realistic estimate delivery and re-evaluate the display ads so consumers will not be misled by the products and services that you are providing.
- Foster comfort – There are some consumers who first dipped their hands into online shopping only during the pandemic and one of the most pressing issues that came out is the comfort level of these platforms. An important consideration is making websites and applications easy to use. The consumer should also feel that their orders will be handled properly and delivered on time.
- Leverage promos and loyalty programs – Many people became price-sensitive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices were reasonably up granted that the supply chain was heavily affected. Clients felt drawn to stores that offered promos and loyalty programs where they can get the things that they need for a lower price.
- Prioritize customer care – Foster a good relationship with your customers by increasing communication. This was a magic recipe that clients felt helpful at the time because they felt isolated at that time. You can set up a hotline to address concerns and questions that they may have. Consumers will find it valuable that their brands care for them. This will foster a lasting positive image that would rub on to others when prospective clients read the positive reviews these present consumers posted.
COVID-19 may have put things to a standstill for a while but this has also opened doors for local businesses to improve and reach a wider audience. The changes in consumer behaviour are greatly due to the changed routines. As consumers adopted new habits and behaviour, local businesses should also be able to handle them.