The coronavirus pandemic has taught people to stay at home and work from home as well as forced people to adapt to new norms of shopping.
Therefore, after the pandemic ultimately comes to an end, many people will potentially emerge with new habits of doing things particularly in terms of consumption.
Hence retailers will also need to adapt quickly to the changed habits of consumers – as more and more shoppers will be looking to find shops and spaces that allow for social distancing and help to keep them safe from the virus.
Seven key trends or ways that the pandemic is expected to change consumers’ habits have been highlighted in a report that was published by Big Red Rooster, a brand experience firm owned by real estate services company JLL.
“You can’t un-live this experience,” said Emily Miller, VP of Strategy & Insight at Big Red Rooster. There will a range of dramatic effect on consumer behavior – far greater than when was seen after the Great Recession of the 1930s which changed financial habits of consumers.
Miller said that such new habits formed during the pandemic will go “far beyond just our spending patterns,” Miller said.
One of the habits predicted is that customers will only look and not touch products. This is because the pandemic has changed the attitude of touching things for consumers because the virus spreads through touching infected surfaces. The report predicts that many shoppers will be wary of picking up products which could have come in contact with other shoppers.
The report also anticipates that shoppers will be more concerned about protecting their personal space post the pandemic crisis. The social distancing guidelines that are in place now are expected to continue for some time into the foreseeable future. The report predicts that shoppers will try to avoid tight and cramped spaces and could prefer to have open-air shopping centers compared to enclosed ones. Physical stores will thus have a limited capacity to take in customers to ensure prevention of overcrowding. For example, electronics retailer Best Buy is slowing reopening its stores but for the purpose of in-store consultations only and through appointment.
The report also predicts that the pandemic has imbibed a tendency among consumers to shop local. This is because consumers want to support their favorite coffee shops, breweries or dress boutiques so help those businesses not to go out of business. The report predicts that this trend will be carried forward by many consumers after the end of the pandemic. The pandemic has created a realization among many consumers about their appreciation of their local mom-and-pop shops.
The report also predicts a drop in discretionary spending as many of the customers to focus on stocking up on groceries and household essentials and reducing spending on apparel and other things that are not needed immediately. That resulted in many stores that are deemed unnecessary started to shut their door by mid-March.
Consumers are likely to be looking for bargains for quite some time and are likely to give a second thought before purchasing an additional pair of shoes, Big Red Rooster’s Miller predicted.
The rate of consumers meeting, learning, exercising and even dating virtually has been accelerated by the pandemic. That has made online shopping more popular than ever before.
The report also anticipates greater brand loyalty from consumers to give them confidence and those that are sensitive to the crisis, as well as about the health and safety of individuals, Miller said. Therefore companies need to make customers feel more confident and better about their decisions in shopping there.
The pandemic has also prompted people to think global — not just local, potentially leading to globally driven decisions.
“We are having these shared experiences on a human level,” Miller explained. “Maybe you’re sitting in your house … in Ohio … and seeing people in Italy have the same experience. We’re trying to find ways to keep ourselves busy. [The pandemic] is bringing us together globally.” That will potentially make consumers more conscious about sourcing of goods after the pandemic is over. Miller said that people will also expect companies to be more transparent about their global supply chains. “This is giving us awareness about how dependent or interconnected we are.”
(Adapted from CNBC.com)