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How COVID-19 has Changed Consumer Behaviour and What Businesses can do to Respond

Life has changed immeasurably since the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic has substantially altered the way we live, work, and play. This is also true of the way we consume goods and services.

As a result, businesses have also seen a shift in the way they reach and talk to potential customers. What worked before the pandemic may not work in the same way anymore.

With so much change over the past few months, it’s hard to know where to start with marketing products and services in the “new normal.” But if we look at some of the ways that the pandemic has reshaped consumer behaviour, we can figure out fresh, exciting ways to reach customers in this new reality we find ourselves in.

Read on to learn more about the impact that COVID-19 has had on the buying behaviour and what businesses can do respond to this change.

More People are Actively Buying Local

As communities watched small, local businesses struggle to stay above water during the initial pandemic, many banded together to support them through “buy local” efforts. You may have seen your Facebook or Instagram feeds filled with this message. This included local fishermen selling direct to customers rather than restaurants; and local businesses banding together to create a directory of nearby goods and supplies.

Efforts like this increased as local small businesses fought unexpected shutdowns in March and April. And as the pandemic continued to gain strength, so did the “buy local” movement. Consumers were living in unprecedented times, and they wanted to support the local economy and do business with brands they can trust.

Buying local

So what does this mean for your business? Put simply, it’s time to increase brand awareness among your community, no matter how prominent your business has become. Consider customising your product or service to meet the needs of those closest to you and engage in your community in ways that are relevant to your industry during these difficult times.

Also, consider how people might find your company when searching for local suppliers. Searches for “nearby”, “near me” and “local” have spiked during the lockdown as people look for local solutions. Businesses should look at their search engine rankings for local phrases and improve their local SEO to attract more customers.

A Shift in Focus Towards Necessities

When the pandemic began rearing its ugly head, people tried to predict the potential impact on the economy and, ultimately, their families. Would there be a food shortage? Should we add more per month to our savings? Should we cut non-essential spending?

No one knew what was coming, and this caused a shift from buying non-essential or even luxury items to only buying “the basics,” all in the name of financial security. Businesses that sold a non-essential product or service, such as holiday accommodation, witnessed a big dip in demand.

To combat this challenge, businesses that sell non-essentials need to pivot to stay afloat. In this market, you’ll need to make your product or service irresistible. This could mean lowering your prices or offering additional, more essential products until the pandemic is over. Some companies just switched up their products or services altogether, and who knows if they’ll ever return to the business they had in mind when they first started.

Increased Dependence on Online Shopping

With quarantine forcing most of us indoors, e-commerce became our only choice when it came to shopping. Of course, some companies did well with this conversion – namely, those who were already making most of their sales online. However, other businesses scrambled to get organised and make a way for customers to buy online.

Several months in, most of the businesses who survived are characterised by their ability to change and adapt when it came to how to deliver their products or services. Some businesses owe their survival to being online through the pandemic. Those who refused to change, unfortunately, have struggled to make ends meet or have closed altogether.

Shop online

Once consumers have realised the relative ease of shopping online, we will probably see an uptick in their engagement with e-commerce brands. Even when the pandemic finally comes to a close, brands can expect a higher consumer dependence on online shopping. This means that, if they haven’t already found ways to sell online, businesses will need to do so soon or risk closure.

To capitalise on the shift towards online buying, businesses should create a solid online presence whether they are selling products, services or experiences. They can do this by presenting a strong, attractive website that is fully optimised for search engine performance so it can be found easily in Google and Bing.

More People Embrace Personal Health and Fitness

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably caused consumers to take a good hard look at their own health. Of course, as people have begun to prioritise healthy living, we’ve seen an increased focus on brands that promote both physical and mental well being.

During the lockdown when people were only allowed out for a short time to exercise once a day, there was an upsurge in demand for walking, running, cycling and outdoors gear. While supplies of home-gym equipment quickly thinned out.

Businesses that can offer products or services that can contribute to their customers’ health will set themselves apart from the pack, especially during and post-pandemic. Several months in and many healthy lifestyle and fitness brands continue to do well as they support consumers through the crisis.

Consumers Keen to Experience Brands

Forced inside and isolated from their communities, most consumers can agree on one thing: the boredom is real. This leaves an open opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves by offering experiences and inspiration where others just offer a simple product or service. Consumers are looking for more than just a “scroll and shop.” They are now expecting to be drawn in with more than just a good deal.

Brand experiences for travel marketing

Innovative companies in travel and tourism marketing, increased their social media activity to give consumers a regular snapshot of exciting things to do and places to see in their locations. This struck a cord with people who wanted to travel but were forced to stay at home because of the pandemic and welcomed the daily dose of images and information coming from tourism brands.

Brands should take advantage of their potential customers’ new need for entertainment and motivation. Emotional engagement leads to sales, and online experiences are the new key to drawing a crowd. Then when times improve, they will be primed and ready to buy from your brand.

Changing With The Times

As COVID-19 shifts consumer needs, wants, and mindsets, successful marketing teams must make the shift as well. In light of the ways that COVID-19 has reshaped consumer behavior that we talked about above, what changes should you make to your marketing strategy to maintain and increase your customer pool?

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