COVID19: Its impact on consumer’s behaviors & preferences

COVID19: Its impact on consumer’s behaviors & preferences

Consumers’ preferences & behaviors: Consumer preferences and buying behaviors keep evolving and the current pandemic had a big role in accelerating this change across the sector whether it is travel, non-food retail, leisure, movies & F&B, etc.

All sectors have been impacted and there is no sector which is insulated from the aftermath of covid19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we work, travel, communicate, shop and more;

 Are these habits going to stay with us for long?

This article is an attempt to understand this change wherein I have used various polls (across social media), one to one discussion with experts and have consolidated in this article to find the key insights that retailers could use in their businesses.

Consumers’ preferences – Masks & social distancing

One of the major impacts that covid19 has to do all the businesses, is that it has accelerated the adoption of digital initiatives amongst most of the businesses.

Food and household categories have seen an average of over 30 percent growth in online customer base across countries. (study by Mckinsey)

The e-commerce sector has responded rapidly to the challenge of creating positive experiences in response to the pandemic.

Companies have pumped in investments in logistics and supply chains and widened their product ranges to cope up with the emerging trend towards ecommerce.

consumers’ preferences & buying behaviors during covid19

The emergence of new sectors: Never before, we saw telemedicine being used so frequently. Thanks to Pandemic, the new field emerged of telemedicine consultations with hospitals adopting tech products to connect to their patients who were under lockdown.

The emergence of health care prescription analytics: Since the consultation was done on digital platforms, the customer data and past history were tracked to give a more holistic diagnosis to the patient.

The power of data analysis can now be used by pharmaceutical companies to understand the consumption patterns as well as how often their brand of medicine is being prescribed by the doctors.

How are consumer preferences & behavior changing?

It is a known fact that to develop a new habit, one has to repeat it over 21 days and continue it over 3 months till it becomes a part of an individual’s lifestyle.

 Five key trends in the behavioral changes emerging post covid19

  • Increased digital adoption: people shifting to digital platforms for day-to-day needs.
  • Loss of freedom in terms of Mobility & WFM: less use of public transport, more remote working, etc. Work from Home is the new Norm. Google has announced adopting WFM for all its employees. Homes became workplaces which added to stress levels as individuals don’t know when to switch OFF work and switch ON their personal lives.
  • Change in buying behavior: move to value-based purchasing and online shopping.
  • Various sectors in the exhibit showed a double-digit decline as people moved away from fashion apparel to wellness products.  Digital gadgets sales showed an increase since the adoption of e-schooling.
  • Increased awareness of health: wearing masks, increased hygiene, healthy eating, etc.
  • Interpersonal relationships: increased divorces across the world, increased pet adoption, etc.

Consumers’ Preferences – World became more HUMANE

The entire globe came together as one to fight the current pandemic -which is never seen before thing.

Irrespective of their statuses, all the countries whether developed, developing, or under-developed came together to help each other by providing vaccines, medicines, equipment, etc.

Consumers’ preferences –Staying true to your purpose

In the short and medium-term, the buying behavior is going to shift towards purpose-driven brands. Brands that have kept trust and credibility during the Coronavirus crisis are likely to benefit in a big way.

Post the crisis, people might become less prone to experimenting with “flashy” or “edgy” brands, as well as with brands that are generic and touted as “value-for-money”.

The focus will shift sharply towards brands that have been able to win consumer trust in this time of crisis. This gives brands a big opportunity to pump up their CSR initiatives to win the trust of their customers.

For instance, Personally, I loved the initiatives by Air India (India’s national carrier) wherein they flew millions of Indians stuck during lockdown to their respective cities and countries under the scheme of Vande Bharat.

As a traveler, I shall never forget Air India’s contribution towards its citizen and in the future personally, I shall not change my airline as they have now earned a space in my heart.

I always recommend to my readers, “Its Heart that matters and not Mind”. (Makes me recall an advertising slogan in Hindi “dil ka rista- strive to win hearts”)

In the middle east, PWC surveyed 501 consumers in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Dubai, Jeddah, and Riyadh as part of a wider PwC global survey of the impact of COVID-19 on consumers.

an analysis of the effect of covid-19 pandemic on the consumer behaviour

Overall, 62% of Middle East survey respondents said they had experienced a decrease in household income due to redundancy or reduction in hours – the highest proportion of any territory surveyed.

An additional 15% had lost out on earnings as a result of caring for others or illness, meaning 77% in total reported a fall in household income, compared with an all-territory average of 48%.

The findings reflect in the pictures shown below.

change in consumer behavior due to covid

How long are these consumers’ preferences going to stay?

This question is in the minds of every marketeer, the answer is only time will tell but we need to prepare our brand and businesses to adapt to these changes in preferences.

Few Tips:

Build your business model around customer convenience. Irrespective of online or offline retail… (for me it is just the manifestation of serving customers).

Create the new customer journey starting from online to offline(in-store) and stay true to your Brand Promise across touchpoints.

Every touchpoint counts & matters; whether it is social media, your Influencer campaign, your CRMs, or any marketing initiatives.

Good time for organic and wellness brands to tap the emerging markets as customers are just ready for early adoption.

Conclusion: The pandemic isn’t over yet. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The so-called ‘new normal’ will bring many changes, including new consumer preferences, new purchasing habits, and new opportunities for retailers to promote themselves and attract shoppers.

References: Mckinsey study, PWC survey, think with google case papers.

Author Ritesh can also be followed on Instagram as @mohanritesh & on Youtube as @riteshmohan.

Ritesh is author of “ Simplifying Retail” – book for powering your retail careers & retail stores, available on ammazon.ae.


Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in The Brew View – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheBrew.ae, the company, or any of its members.

Ritesh Mohan

Ritesh Mohan (AKA retailritesh) specializes in Retail management, Brand Management, Retail Operations, Sales Management, and Franchising and Business Management. An accomplished author of the book “Simplifying Retail” he has been instrumental, since the last 22 years, in the growth of some of the regions biggest brands in the beauty, fashion, and fragrances retail & FMCG sector.

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