• Kate Nguyen

7 trends that shape the Customer behaviors post-COVID-19 & Implications for business

Updated: Nov 22

WHAT'S NEXT? That’s the common question for all businesses since 2020. Since the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world, there’s one thing we can not deny that this crisis has totally changed the consumers’ behaviors, which will finally change the way we normally do business.


In Australia, over more than 6 months in lock-down has redefined the way people spend money. As a business owner, you may realize that companies must come up with new business strategies based on the new consumption traits of your customers and the demand of the market.

Here are seven new global consumption trends in 2021 that you need to consider.


Go digital

Never before had the world seen such strong adoption of digital like this year 2020.

  • The engagement with mobile ad increases by 15% during the pandemic

  • 45% of customers surveyed by PwC indicated that their mobile phone has become a shopping channel since the outbreak of COVID-19.

  • Social media usage consumption rose by 58% (PwC)

In the past, technological devices used to be considered interrupted and distracted the real connection. This perception changed just overnight. The daily users of Zoom ballooned from 10 million to over 200 million in March, and Microsoft Teams added 12 million active daily users in just seven days in the same month. Such digital tools become a dispensable part of human communication.


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Embrace digital transformation

Although the importance of having a social media presence has been introduced before, the benefits of online platforms are only proved shortly after the pandemic. With curfews and travel restrictions, your businesses can lose some loyal customers because they cannot visit your physical stores. The one and only solution for retaining your customers is going online.


Before 2019, many businesses may hesitate to invest in Social media or e-commerce. However, since March 2020 when the COVID-19 had taken over the world, adapting Digital is a must for survival. It’s late better than never. If you are newbies to the digital space, here are some steps we recommend:

  • Based on your target audience, set up an online presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any platform that you think relevant to your business.

  • In case you already had the accounts online, let’s invest sufficiently to bring your brand in front of potential customers. In this case, the social media campaign is a good choice with the combination of social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, or youtube, together with content marketing that will definitely boost your brand in the digital space.

E-commerce is soaring

  • From the global study of PwC, 63% are buying more groceries online/by phone than before the social distancing, and this habit is expected to maintain even after the lockdown.

  • The 2020 Easter period was one of the largest sales periods in history for Australia for online retailers, according to the report of the ABC.

  • According to the survey of Mintel, 93% of consumers are shopping online since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Because of the restrictions in movement, e-commerce is a convenient way to get their wanted products on time. Needless to say, the pandemic has accelerated an expansion of e-commerce.


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Build an e-commerce website

There is no better time to have a website than in 2020. Especially when you’re operating in the retail and hospitality sectors, having a website will drive the online traffic, and eventually convert to sales. Take the example of H&M Australia when they had just launched the e-commerce website in November.

In your marketing strategy that initiates a website, you should bear in mind that:

  • Which platform serves best your business purpose and budget.

  • Your website layout should be compatible with the devices used by your consumers. As indicated in the above surveys, the mobile shopping experience should be highlighted due to the consumption habits of your consumers.

  • Focus on online support and decide how to offer a unique and distinct experience while shopping on your website. Some approaches can be 24/7 live chat, chatbot, or the easy-to-navigate layout.

  • However, the shift to online stores doesn’t mean that you write off the importance of physical stores. Instead, an omnichannel marketing strategy should be implemented to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers when visiting our stores.

If you still have many worries about the e-commerce website, leave your concern for an expert to help you.

From panic buying to mindful consumption

When the news of the pandemic sparked, the world witnessed the sign of panic buying of toilet paper. Shortly after, the lockdown period has brought them to settle down into a new reality and become the “stay at home” customer. Because of the downward trend of the worldwide economy and the rise in unemployment, consumers are becoming more conscious of their purchase.


Your consumers are becoming more mindful of what they’re buying. Food waste, clothes, and other less necessary items are put away from the shopping lists. They shop more consciously and shift to more sustainable options.


Source: Accenture

WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Customer-centric solution

Mindful consumption has increasingly taken the mindset of worldwide consumers. To afford the change, a customer-centric solution is recommended. This framework is introduced to emphasize the outcome of business activities considering the environmental, personal, and economic well-being of the consumer. The guideline for actions can include:

  • Define the “core value” that drives the consumption habits of your consumers based on data and experiences. Such anchor products or services should be available and within reach of them.

  • Re- access the change in general priorities of consumers, and adjust your marketing strategies following.

  • Train the staff for delivering the best customer service. Unsurprisingly, in the survey by KPMG, 90% of consumers agree that “resolve my issue” is the most important thing to choose a brand.

  • Greener approach in business activities: “Sustainability” and “Green” should be integrated into your business strategy and communication with the stakeholders. eliminating the amount of unrenewable resources used in your products, practicing Corporate Social Responsibility, and other activities that can prevent environmental pollution.

Accelerate the “buy local” trend

Free movement around the countries created a huge impact on the products that most local people took for granted. With the shut down of many national/ local businesses, the social and economic impact of the pandemic was felt at a very personal and local level.

  • 95% of Australians claimed that they would be willing to pay more for locally sourced groceries

  • 90% said they are willing to pay for non-grocery items that are locally sourced.

  • 56% of consumers are shopping in neighborhood stores to support local businesses, and more than 80% planning to continue with this behavior into the longer term (Accenture)

After COVID-19 sparked, “buy local” has attracted its ultimate popularity amongst the consumers. Locally- sourced can be divided into three scales: local community, state, and national levels. The consumers start to question themselves: “How do I support local business”.


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Local- marketing campaigns via digital marketing tools

The good news for business is that the “shop local” movement from the customers will become a tipping point to hack the growth. The bad news is that these successes are not a one-day effort. Reaching customers are your winning approach. Your business can totally achieve that with help from a well- crafted digital marketing strategy, which includes:

  • Identify the unique aspects of your community: all-in-all, it is about understanding. Three questions that you should always bear in mind are: What are the trends, activities, or experiences do people love in your community?. Such findings can become the ground to develop your marketing campaigns to the local.

  • Invest in local SEO: In the 20th century, especially the period of COVID-19, there’s no denying that your customers may know your online presence before visiting your physical stores. A to-do-list for local SEO will include: submit your business on Google, verify the information, add more details. By working heavily on SEO, you can totally bring your business in front of the consumers when they search for it on the internet.

  • Localize the inventory: using locally- sourced ingredients obviously benefits your business and brand image. Aside from enabling you to create more unique and compelling assortments, supporting local makers can build a good reputation for your brand amongst the neighborhood. And the more people talk, the more sales you can generate

There are many ways to drive traffic from locals. “Local- marketing campaigns” can become a huge hit for your business by taking advantage of digital marketing tools.


Disconnect to reconnect

The strike of COVID-19 has pressed a “pause” button on the “normal life” of all of us. We are disconnected physically but somehow, this is a chance for them to reconnect with what they truly value again. This temporary stop allows them to have more time for families, sit together in the meals, and care more for themselves. Less time in the outside world means more time to spend with family and friends. People all over the world are showing support by joining groups, taking care of their neighbors, and recognizing the efforts of healthcare and other essential workers.


Because we are in this together, then, we can get out of this together. Overall, 80% of customers feel more connected to their communities—and 88% expect to keep this connection even after the virus is contained (Accenture).


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Re-connect through real values

In the past, some businesses traded off the “core” values for the sales and short- term outcomes. COVID-19 has recreated the definition of “real values” for both buyers and sellers. “Personalization” and “Humanization” the connection with customers can initiate the change.

It’s all about listening to your customers’ voices to find out their inner thoughts and working out on how to reduce the barriers to consume the brand. Sometimes, the promotion doesn’t necessarily involve a price discount. A higher level of humanizing connection can be formed via the emotional connection. The go-to- content for brands in the wake of COVID-19 can evolve the care message. It can be: the brand thoroughly understands the hardship of your current situation, and then will provide a solution, which will help their lives less painful and stressful.


In addition, many businesses demonstrate their appreciation for the dedication of frontline workers by free/ discount meals and drinks. Such nice activities will be spread by the Internet, and imprint the good brand image in the customers’ mind.


Challenge on customer loyalty

  • 50% of consumers agree that they had tried new brands or products while social distancing (PwC).

  • Three in five consumers globally have switched their original brands due to the virus (McKinsey).

  • 88% of global consumers intend to stay loyal to the new brands they switched to during the course of lockdown, rather than revert back (Bazaarvoice).

There are two reasons that can justify this “unexpected- for- business, but necessary- for- customers” shift. Firstly, the decrease in household income urges them to explore other cheaper alternatives to save as much money as possible. Another reason is the restrictions of movement amidst COVID-19. When people can not go further than 5km distance, then they must explore other options within their reach. Two months into lockdown is long enough to form a new consumption habit.


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

New loyalty scheme

Encouraging your customers to do repeat business with your company, again and again, is hard. It requires even more effort in the era of the pandemic. The ongoing loyalty program that your business imposes may need some adjustment to keep up with the trend of consumption.

In terms of travel and hospitality businesses- two industries that the coronavirus has a profound impact, they can change their loyalty game plan by revising their policies in different ways such as:

  • Flexibility: the expiration dates of rewards redemption can be extended, considering the situation that people can barely travel for a long distance. That’s the popular case for airline companies like Qantas. In their Update newsroom about COVID-19, the new expiry dates for customers are informed clearly to their customers.

  • Loyalty-integrated food services: Businesses can establish partnerships with restaurants. Every time they make the consumption at the partner restaurants, credit points will be added to their loyalty cards. Obviously, this is a win-win partnership. It can drive more traffic to the restaurants, and keep the customers coming back to using your airline service post-pandemic.

The bottom line is that you should keep your brand's most valuable customers remember and eager to return as soon as possible by adding more value to their consuming experiences.


The growing fear of uncertainty and the emerging of trust

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has completely put an end to normal society. The unexpected shutdown of daily activities due to the disease spread makes people realize the uncertainty of their future. We care more about our health, both physical and mental.

  • Safety and security and healthcare had become top priorities for consumers with 49% and 45% of respondents saying so (PwC). In other words, well-being is their concern.

  • During the era of COVID-19, people wash their hands on an average of 12 times a day—a 90% increase compared to before the pandemic period. Also, using virtual tools to practice self-care also emerges as a trend when 50% of consumers agree so. Globally, the health and fitness app downloads increased by 60% between December 2019 and late March 2020 (Accenture)

The more fear consumers grow, the more trust they demand from their connections as a complementary for the feeling of uncertainty. Customers are more conscious of the brands they support, the transparency and sustainability of the brands.


WHAT’S NEXT for Business?

Building trust

Tough time requires resilience strategy in the face of adversity. For organizations, at the macro-level, trust relates to integrity. It requires a focus on both decisions and execution. Some businesses had over-promised and accidentally created higher expectations for consumers. When the outcomes were not successfully delivered as promised, dissatisfaction will happen, and trust for that brand can decrease.


Some practical examples for business to take can be:

  • Partnership with customers; invite them to join the process of product development as well as asking for their feedback continuously.

  • Transparent communication - Provide progress updates to ensure expectations are aligned with reality; be honest about what is working, what hasn’t worked, and what is going to change.

Human beings are still struggling with the pandemic as the number of active cases is increasing exponentially, especially in the EU and the USA. People have no clue about what the future holds, and when this pandemic will be under control. It is painful, but businesses must admit that their strategies should be always ready to change to cope with the newly- formed consumption habits of the target audiences.


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