The basic concepts of social sciences emphasize how human behavior is a product or aggregate of the many different influences an individual may encounter daily. These factors include social, economic, personal, cultural, environmental, and physical factors, among others. That said, it doesn’t come as a surprise that COVID-19 has, undeniably, shifted the behavior of individuals all around. Having an impact on all factors mentioned above, COVID-19 is a peculiar phenomenon that requires adequate study and understanding.
From a business perspective, COVID-19 has not only affected how businesses operate, but also how consumers behave. The current pandemic created new trends in consumer behavior, made new habits, re-enforced some old habits, and even discouraged old ones. However, before tackling the effects of COVID-19 on consumer behavior, an understanding of basic marketing principles must be established.
What are the different kinds of consumer goods?
According to Maximilian Claessens, an associate consultant and writer for the Marketing Insider, consumer goods could be classified into four (4) categories: (1) Convenience Products, (2) Shopping Products, (3) Specialty Products, and (4) Unsought Products.
A consumer good could be considered a convenience product when it fulfills the basic requirement of being “convenient.” It is widely available, with a low, affordable price, making it accessible for many consumers.
For shopping products, competition among companies become tighter. When shopping for this kind of product, consumers tend to look at products in a strictly comparative manner. Differences in quality, price, and style can make a huge difference in a consumer’s decision.
This is a product wherein the buyer, not the dealer, makes the extensive effort to obtain a good or service provided by a company. This means that the product is limited, exclusive, difficult to obtain, and of great value.
This refers to products that are not availed by consumers daily. Buyers only turn an eye to this product or service whenever they need it. Due to the nature of these goods, they require more advertising, selling, and marketing efforts, in order to gain consumers.
Depending on the kind of product a manufacturer sells, there are different impacts brought by COVID-19. Through this article, we will try to examine the following points and relate our findings according to the different kinds of consumer goods:
- Which consumer habits have increased?
- Which consumer habits have decreased?
- With the understanding of these shifts in consumer habits, how can businesses proactively react to the situation?
Knowing the answers to these questions is important for any business, big or small, to thrive and succeed amid the current pandemic.
Which consumer habits have increased?
The habits of every consumer never exist in a vacuum; instead, they are greatly influenced by current conditions. With COVID-19, two (2) pertinent factors have affected consumer behavior – (1) health and (2) economic factors. These two major considerations have branched out, creating both short-term and long-term changes to consumer preferences.
In terms of short-term changes, the following must be noted:
- Consumers are opting for services that can be availed online.
- Consumers take delivery as a deciding factor to whether or not they will avail of a service.
- Consumers are availing more services that take relevant measures to ensure safety during the pandemic.
For the short-term changes documented above, it is quite noticeable how health and economic factors take precedence in every purchase decision. Consumers are opting for services that lessen their risk of contracting the disease. And although it is expected that individuals will only avail of “necessities,” that is not strictly the case. Data suggests that streaming websites and online shopping are a big hit. So, contrary to common notions, COVID-19 does not necessarily need to be the downfall of industries producing non-essential goods. When given the option, consumers will opt to maintain their old purchasing behaviors, for as long as they are provided with a safe platform to do so. It allows them to maintain a sense of normalcy amid the uncertainties of COVID-19. That said, a bigger factor to consider is the promotion of consumer safety and product availability.
In terms of long-term changes, the following must be noted:
- Consumers will have a long-term concern for health.
- There will be a rise in “conscious consumption.”
- Consumers will be returning to local, instead of global markets.
Whether we like to admit it or not, the health security challenges brought by COVID-19 are a backlash of globalization. Although a “global” arena is also a major player in combatting this disease as the global health sectors are working together to find a cure, it could not be avoided that free movement will still leave a bad taste on the mouths of consumers. That said, health and safety are primary considerations in their economic decisions. In the long term, this big threat to health will be an eye-opener for most to start adopting a healthy lifestyle. As such, products that relate to healthy living will become more popular over the years. Consumers will begin to make more conscious choices in the products they buy, making it important for manufacturers to become more particular about the products they are putting out in the market. Lastly, because consumers will have the tendency of relating the COVID-19 pandemic as a consequence of free movement, they will become more inclined to think of cross-country purchases as risky consumption. There will then be more support for locally made goods.
What consumer habits have decreased?
To make sense of the decrease in consumer spending in certain sectors, it is important to have a better understanding of a consumer’s current situation. Right now, the priority of every individual is to avoid getting sick. Given that contracting COVID-19 happens through an exchange of respiratory droplets from one individual to another, minimal human interaction is prescribed. This becomes especially important with many individuals testing positive, without demonstrating any symptoms.
As an attempt to steer clear of the virus, consumers will prefer to avail of goods or services that require them little to no human interaction. That said, the travel, tourism, and transportation sectors have received the biggest hit due to the disease. Other activities that require increased interaction among people, such as shopping in physical stores, dining in restaurants, and working out in gyms, have also been severely affected.
Basically, the consumer habits that decrease are directly related to which services or goods a customer may perceive to be “risky” at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of short-term changes, the following should be noted:
- Consumers will begin to shop less in physical stores.
- Consumers will temporarily halt availing of services that can only be provided in certain facilities.
- Consumers will become less “choosy” in terms of their selection of goods.
Because of the changes brought by COVID-19, people will tend to stay away from anything that may be risky for their health. As much as possible, individuals will prefer to stay within environments and do activities that tend to be under their control. Their direct control and supervision are the best ways for them to ensure their own safety. Maximum control could not be exercised outside the home. Thus, any service that could be done at home is an option consumers would prefer. Not only that, given that not all businesses were able to make their services more accessible to the general population, not a lot of consumers have a choice on which services to avail. When a need arises, they won’t hesitate to choose among the limited pool of providers available. Right now, it is most advantageous for businesses to capitalize on weakening competition. By adapting and providing accessible and convenient services, a brand or company has a higher chance of gaining more customers.
In terms of long-term changes, the following should be noted:
- Consumers will be less optimistic spenders, choosing to spend less in the long run to prevent facing major consequences from the foreseen economic consequences of COVID-19.
- Consumers will be pessimistic about health and safety. As such, a decrease in travel and tourism will be a long-term occurrence.
Many of the immediate changes brought by COVID-19 to consumer spending will likely be carried over to the long term. To add to that, in the long run, the major effects COVID-19 has on the economy will be at full effect. In preparation for what the economic recession may bring in the long term, a lot of individuals will begin to be smarter consumers, purchasing goods with long-term value than short-term satisfaction. When this happens, manufacturers need to prepare and find ways to make their services adapt to whatever is needed by consumers. Even if some companies feel stable, being able to continue operations amid COVID-19, it does not mean that companies can already be complacent. The bigger negative economic effects of COVID-19 are still yet to take place. As early as now, companies need to formulate their strategies so that they won’t suffer the full impact of the global economic recession.
With the understanding of these shifts in consumer habits, how can businesses proactively react to the situation?
Different approaches and measures need to be implemented for different sectors to succeed. The nature of the goods they offer holds the key to how they should be dealing with the problem. Below, we will discuss the different strategies each manufacturer must implement as a way to cope with consumer behavior amid COVID-19.
Given that most convenience products are necessities, a huge decline in consumer consumption is not anticipated at the moment. However, with many ways these convenience products remain openly available, the market remains competitive for this kind of consumer goods. With that, it is best for producers of convenience products to propel their products by emphasizing consumer health and safety. They can make their services more accessible and safer for consumers by providing delivery services. Other than that, they can create arrangements for contactless delivery to better put customers at ease. It would also help to create a social media presence that creates posts on the various safety procedures implemented by your business. Boost these posts and improve their visibility in your area. Try to set up a way for credit card payment as well. When a customer feels that their safety and needs are being met through your services, they are likely to choose your products over your competitors.
At present, shopping products are considered non-essentials. Thus, it is expected that clients will not be more inclined to purchase these kinds of goods. However, this does not mean that those producing shopping products can’t do anything about it. Interestingly, a lot of consumers have reported having increased online shopping behaviors. Due to the stress and lack of things to do at home, a lot of consumers are looking for ways to cope with COVID-19. Among the popular ways of coping that emerged recently is online shopping. That said, as a seller, the best way to encourage individuals to purchase your products is to improve your customer service. Try to be as available for any inquiries your customers may have. Improve your visibility as well by listing your product in the different online shopping websites available. Be creative in your usage of online platforms. There are many free social media websites where you can make your products and services known to the community. With the physical borders that COVID-19 has built up, now is the time to make use of digital solutions.
Selling specialty products will be of great difficulty at the moment. Especially with these goods being highly impractical for the current COVID-19 situation, it is less likely that anyone will go out of their list of necessities just to purchase a good that is sometimes considered a luxury. For a company, this is a great time to take advantage of promos and discounts. Regardless of how non-essential specialty products may be, for some consumers, these specialty products are worthy investments. A good deal will help a consumer consider the long-term over the short-term. That said, even if the product you offer is not a necessity now, a client will be able to acknowledge that this product will still be useful in the future. To boost your deals, make sure to publish them online by creating your own website and properly managing your social media platforms. Be smart with your advertising and make sure to maintain proper engagement with all your clients. Lastly, find ways to make your products easier to access for clients. Allow online transactions, arrange quick and easy deliveries, and maintain open communication lines. By making things more convenient for your clients, they will be encouraged to purchase a product.
The current crisis is a good way to properly bolster unsought products. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of the population was made to realize that unsought products are actually necessary investments. Life insurance, accident insurance, health insurances, and funeral plans are things that individuals often keep at the back of their minds. However, with the impact of COVID-19, consumers are now aware of the benefits of being prepared. There will be a shift to people’s perspective of “unsought products.” Take advantage of this shift in attitude by boosting your marketing efforts. Make sure to advertise your services on a wider platform. Additionally, make sure to create engaging content that will help build rapport with consumers. When done effectively, a marketing strategy for these unsought products can create a lot of leads, bolstering businesses and leading them to success.
As seen, different kinds of industries are affected in different ways. Thus, it is important to create strategies that are specific to your needs. With all the challenges brought by COVID-19, one thing remains clear: the digital realm is a business’ best friend.
Connecting with your clients, finding ways to make their transactions with you easier, and making them feel that you are concerned with their welfare at a time like this are great ways to bring customers to your business. If you are able to adapt to your client’s needs in the right way, you will be able to properly adjust to the shifts in consumer behavior.
As a company that creates websites and manages digital marketing, Proweaver is here to help.
Proweaver – Keeping You Connected
We want to do our part and help small and medium businesses stay connected with their clients, despite the COVID-19 crisis. As a web solutions company, we understand the critical role we play in maintaining the upkeep of the global economy. That said, we provide the following services:
We acknowledge the role small and medium businesses play in keeping the modern economy afloat. For this reason, we make it our role to help these businesses cope with the economic effects brought by COVID-19. By providing affordable, high-quality websites, we can help provide these small and medium businesses with the platform they need to connect with their clients. By becoming more accessible in the digital business sphere, these businesses can keep their operations running, despite the threat of COVID-19. Our website services are fast and reliable, making them the ideal solutions to help prevent the closure of small businesses. By having a website, businessmen can have an official platform where they can share the latest news about their company and the developments in their services. Websites can also provide a convenient way for clients to connect with businesses, creating ease in transactions.
Search Engine Optimization
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, having a website is not enough to become discoverable among clients who are in need of your services. For a website to be effective, it needs a high SEO ranking. When a website is fully optimized for searches, it will appear among the first few search results for a certain search query. Given that a lot of consumers won’t take the time to scroll through all pages in the search results, improving your SEO score is necessary to drive potential clients to your business. Here at Proweaver, we have experts who are knowledgeable about the different SEO strategies. By using the right keywords and strategically placing these throughout your website, we can draw potential customers to your website.
Social Media Marketing Services
Businesses can continue serving the general population amid the COVID-19 pandemic by staying connected with clients and ensuring that their needs are met. However, these will be difficult to accomplish without flexible and wide-reaching platforms where clients and businesses can interact. But with the help of social media experts from Proweaver, these things can be achieved. We can create an effective digital platform according to your specifications. We can make engaging and relevant content that will catch the attention of potential buyers. Also, our quality services will improve your brand recognition and reputation among clients and potential customers.
Here at Proweaver, we try to be flexible to the different needs of our clients. For this reason, we can provide other services, according to your requests. We can create videos, graphic designs, logos, and other kinds of content. Our team here at Proweaver consists of world-class web designers, digital marketing experts, content writers, graphic designers, and more. They will work to the best of their abilities so that you may properly connect with your clients, even at the time of a crisis.
The crisis may have created several difficulties in serving customers. However, with the digital solutions available in this day and age, this does not mean we have to detach with the consumers. With help from the right digital experts, you can also remove the physical boundaries that hinder you from providing your clients with the best service. What are you waiting for? Contact Proweaver and achieve great outcomes for your business today!