Report: How COVID-19 Will Impact Consumer Behavior

Posted by Anurag Pal

Your business is probably creating post-coronavirus reopening plans as we speak, but it’s likely that your company won’t be returning to the exact same environment it enjoyed last year. The reality is that consumers appear to be changing their buying habits, according to a new report from Accenture.

The report, which is based on consumer surveys conducted in late March and early April, shows that businesses should start personalizing their marketing strategies to target their products and services to five new types of consumers, Accenture says:

  • The Rationalist: These consumers, representing 39 percent of the population, are interested in staying informed via the news. They have increased their purchases of recommended products only, such as cleaning and personal hygiene items.
  • The Individualist: This group, representing 22 percent of the population, stockpiles essentials and works to look out for their own needs. These consumers are less likely to agree with their government’s response.
  • The Worrier: This group, which represents 21 percent of the population, is anxious and reactionary about the future, leading to inhibited purchasing behavior.
  • The Indifferent: These consumers, representing 11 percent of the population, are nonchalant and continuing business as usual.
  • The Activist: In this group, representing eight percent of the population, people are looking out for others and shopping for people outside of their immediate families.

As these consumer groups shift, so do their shopping behaviors. Worriers increased their purchases of personal hygiene products by 50 percent, while those in the “Indifferent” group boosted theirs by just 10.4 percent, for example.

Takeaway: A one-size-fits-all marketing strategy won’t work for your campaigns. Instead, you should be determining which categories your target customers fit into, and tailor your marketing strategy to their needs and desires.

How Consumer Purchase Behavior Has Changed

As the landscape has changed, so have the priorities of shoppers. They are more interested than ever on their health needs, and have become more mindful about what they’re buying. Consumers want to limit food waste, buy sustainable options and be cost-conscious, the Accenture report indicates. In addition, an interest in shopping for locally-made products has increased significantly.

As most brands are aware, the demand for online shopping has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, with Instacart reporting that subscriptions have risen 10- to 20-fold in states with the most reported COVID-19 cases. In addition, consumers expect to continue shopping this way, with the Accenture survey noting that the proportion consumers expect to shop online will increase by over 30 percent after the outbreak ends.

Takeaway: If your business isn’t yet invested in the online channel, now is the time to make that shift. As consumers have become accustomed to the convenience and safety of shopping online, that seems to be where they intend to stay.

How Consumers’ Leisure Activities Have Evolved

The social distancing requirement has prompted a dramatic shift in how consumers spend their free time, and some of those changes are expected to become permanent, the Accenture study noted.

About 61 percent of consumers say they plan to keep watching an increased amount of news following the outbreak, and 55 percent expect to keep prioritizing more family time. Apps like Zoom, Skype and Google Classroom have seen their rankings rise by more than 200 percent since the first day of the pandemic, while some new apps like Disney+ and Spiral Roll created a massive splash, likely due to the timing of their launches.

“As consumers continue to embrace digital to connect, learn and play, CPG companies must increase their focus on digital vs. traditional tools to engage with consumers and enhance their experiences,” Accenture says.

Takeaway: As you create your post-coronavirus business plan, make sure you keep the shifting behaviors of your target customers in mind and pivot accordingly if necessary.

Resource: To read Accenture’s report, visit the firm’s website.

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