Change is everywhere. Whether it’s working from a make-shift home-office, pretending to not struggle through P.E. with Joe every morning, or trying to not to incinerate your kitchen when attempting to recreate your favourite Heston-inspired Michelin star dish at home. We are living through an abstract time, and as such our habits are changing.

But what does this mean for brands? Customer habits have no doubt been turned upside down over the last few months and businesses has scrambled to adapt in order to overcome and, ultimately, survive. Change is inevitable during a global pandemic, but will the impact brought about by this era stay constant? It’s a question marketers and business owners the world over will contemplating on a daily basis. So, what do we know already?

Well, there has almost definitely been a seismic shift in the way that most of us go about our daily lives. We have gone from working in the presence of our colleagues and clients every day, to working from home with our children and significant(ly annoying) others. Instead of casually heading to the supermarket when we want an indulgent bar of chocolate or a glass reduced of Pino Noir we’re now having to plan our food purchases weeks in advance, ordering online via a complex matrix of digital hurdles, or strapping up like a budget-vigilante just to deal with the tinned goods aisle. As such these changes determine that many of our usual daily activities, and thus consumer habits, that require human contact, are being replaced with convenient alternatives.

We cannot yet know how long lasting these changes will be, but what is imperative is that business owners continue to adjust to a new landscape and thus utilise this situation to their monetary advantage.

The three main consumer behavioural shifts are; purchasing essentials / commodities online, prioritising local products, elevating the importance of good health and hygiene.

Purchasing online:

Yes, we’ve all seen the papers this week. Shops are back at it, the crowds have gathered, shoppers have camped, pushed and pulled their way back into our favourite high-street chains. But what does this really mean for retail? People are understandably, albeit borderline insane, excited to get back to some sense of normality and browse the bright shiny aisles once again. Let us also not forget those who have limited access to online resources, and therefore have no choice but to head back on foot through the shop doors. But, for a large swathe of consumers, the physical appeal of the high street is still very much a no-go. And why wouldn’t it be? Online shopping was already a very poplar way to buy almost anything you wanted online. And now, with the added risk of a killer disease still on the loose, it’s safe to assume that a large chunk of many regular spenders will still opt to do the majority of their transactions digitally, with minimal contact, for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, it is advisable that businesses still opt to sure up their revenue streams and look to fulfil this rise in demand by expanding to online channels. These are still very unsure times, and with government advice changing daily, it would be wise for brands whose operations were heavily impacted by the pandemic restrictions to not rely upon their traditional systems moving forward.

Going local:

There has been a remarkable demand from a cross section of audiences to seek out businesses that manufacture, source ingredients or are based locally to consumers. This is great news for new and smaller retailers who’s USP is just that. Instead of being brow beaten by the strain that Covid-19 has put on business growth, now is the time to promote and market services to an engaged and willing audience who are looking to invest in such products.

The most efficient way to boost your business in the current climate is to find ways to reach local audiences online. Unique direct marketing and targeted social media campaigns are a powerful and efficient way to engage audiences without spamming potential customers.

This is also true for businesses offering consultancy or agency services. Companies are looking to be more economical in the current climate, whilst still needing the support of experienced professionals to support, promote and expand their business. Therefore, we may well see an upturn in business opportunities for smaller agencies, consultancies and providers. If this is your business, then now’s the time to raise the visibility of your offering and nurture new potential clients and partners.

Health and hygiene:

Recent research undertaken by Accenture suggests that businesses should be focusing on health-focused strategies now that consumers are far more well-being conscious. Customers are now seeking more sustainable options and businesses that are able to make this a key part of their USP should really be aiming to do so.

Additionally, customers are keen to know that businesses are implementing safety measures, not just for their employees but also for the customers buying their products. One key component in this chain is the assurance of safe and hygienic delivery methods. Contactless delivery is the optimum ideal and consumers are now actively seeking out brands that can deliver products in a no contact manner. Brands need to work to redefine their logistics and marketing practices, where possible, to keep safety at the forefront. As much as it is important to educate customers about best practice, making them aware of your health and safety practices is now also paramount in order to encourage trust and loyalty.

The current pandemic has brought about a myriad of changes and shifts in consumer behaviour which could have long lasting effects. We won’t know the full realities for some time, but for the foreseeable future, businesses should keep in mind the situation and the changes in behaviours that have arisen as a result of it. Vigilant brands that are adaptable to change in meeting an ever changing customer attitude will always fair better in the long run.

For more information and advice about how your business can adapt to the current climate, you can check out our Survive and Throve Digital Toolkits, click here.

Thanks for reading!