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The consumer of today is facing many unprecedented situations and challenges as we make our way through this coronavirus pandemic. And of one thing we can be certain: The COVID consumer is quite different than the consumer that entered 2020.
With so many of our predictions focused on technology trends for this decade, none could have predicted the shifts that would occur in our consumer behavior.
Changes extend beyond our shopping habits. Many people worry about additional pandemic-induced disruption, and there’s a general feeling of anxiety we’ve never before encountered — we’re still going out of our way to avoid exposure to a deadly virus.
“The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is bound to change not just how we function as human beings but also as consumers.”
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is bound to change not just how we function as human beings but also as consumers. We are going through significant turmoil that challenges the very foundations shaping our collective actions.
Some changes, however, are simply amplifications of emerging trends: the greater emphasis on sustainability and ethical production, improving our health and well-being and the growing reliance on e-commerce.
The air is cleaner because we’re not traveling as much, we’re enjoying the outdoors, we’re reconnecting with nature in ways we hadn’t for years. We’re establishing a greater sense of time and place.
Collectively, through the pandemic, we’re making a choice on what our future might look like even though we may not realize it right now. That’s because we’re still living through COVID-19 and the fundamental disruption induced by the pandemic.
Only from a position of hindsight, looking back at the strange year that was 2020, will we properly develop a logical perspective.
“Collectively, through the pandemic, we’re making a choice on what our future might look like even though we may not realize it right now.”
I’m sure that we’ve all changed our consumption patterns — for better or worse — to suit our new personal reality.
Some new habits may spring more directly from the circumstances of the pandemic, including a focus on local goods and services and independent retailers. Hyper-local is becoming the new normal as we become increasingly reluctant to travel in the same ways as before in search of our own slice of retail sustenance.
Because on one hand, for many months now, we’ve lacked shopping experiences that trigger emotional responses such as entertainment, happiness and excitement. And while we want those feelings back, the pandemic is making us more reluctant to spend.
As people feel more vulnerable than normal, they’re taking a more conservative approach to discretionary spending by focusing on immediate needs, both financial and psychological. We’re now more frugal, and “stuff” doesn’t have the same cache as before.
This circumspection is shifting more and more of what we spend away from offline to online. But to only view our behavior though that prism is overly simplistic.
With the unparalleled levels of COVID-19 disruption, consumers must feel safe, from a health and financial perspective, for normal spending to resume. Any return to spending normalcy — whatever “normalcy” looks like — will be gradual.
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