What will be the Consumer´s behaviour in The NEW Normal?
With each day that passes more and more data is pointing towards what is being called by many as “The New Normal” which is referring to when this is over we will not return back to normal instead we will be faced with a new normal.
Society, context, work, leisure…will change and as a consequence so will the consumer modify their behavior, emotions, thoughts, worries, etc. Therefore it is an analysis of the new behavioural pattern is fundamental.
In this post we will endeavour to analyse the different studies and approximations which have been conducted during the last few weeks, with the aim to help all those who follow us to better understand the new user and adapt in the best way possible to their current needs.
What types of consumers have we seen during the pandemic?
There are various theories regarding the different phases we pass or will pass through during lockdown. China is nearly completely finished living through this process and from Ipsos China 7 phases have been defined (Landwaart & Goes, 2020): Disbelief, preparation, adjustment, acclimatization, endurance, relief and fear. Depending on which phase we find ourselves in our behavior will be different.
Along the same line, Trias de Bes (2020) also conducted a study analizing how families reach to confinement. Although we need exercise caution with the data collected as the study was based solely on households that have internet access and the sample, although representative shows little evidence.
In this study they found 6 household types, which are differentiated in terms of their worries, the actions they take or focus on during lockdown:
- Squirrel Households, consisting of people with a high anxiety level, who worry more about health, the economy and scarcity. This leads them to accumulate products (food and hygiene) and provoke consumption of healthy food. This group consists mostly of people aged 45 and over that live through lockdown feeling anxious.
- Matrix Households contain that are extremely anxious during lockdown, they are not concerned about contracting the virus, because they are young between 18-44 years old (more women than men and without children), however they are anxious about not being able to go outside. Therefore they spend their time on digital leisure activities and doing sport in the house.
- Stoic Households consist of people over the age of 65, due to their life experience they live though this lockdown their anxiety level is low, they are able to keep calm and act the same as they did prior to the crisis. They enjoy their time using technology and the internet.
- Sapien Households also consist of people with a low level of anxiety. They are aged 45 or over (mostly men and live in big cities) who use this time as an opportunity to train and read, being they are reacting to the situation with a certain amount of tranquility.
- Day-After Households consist of families with children who are experiencing a medium level of anxiety who worry about the economy in terms of both their home and the nation. Their fears aren´t about getting sick but about the future. During lockdown they continue to work online, use social media, online video conferencing and watch paid content.
- Finale Carpe Diem Households which are those with a medium level of anxiety and worry about health, the economy and scarcity however they don´t stressed about being confined. They are the ones who have a greater array of activities during lockdown: shopping, digital leisure, training, reading, healthy eating and spoiling themselves…They take this time as an opportunity to try products and new services. They are families with small children between the ages of 18-44.
What are consumers concerned about in this New Normal?
The health and economic crisis we are living has resulted in consumers with new worries. (Castellanos 202, IMOP insights 2020,Navarro, 2020). As a result recent data shows there is a clear perception that the economy is deteriorating and some believe that this will not improve in what remains of the year (IMP insights, 2020). This perception is reinforced if we analyse consumer confidence, which has been reduced to levels seen prior to the2008 crisis (IMOP insights, 202, Ipsos, 2020a).
This is why the economic concerns is what stands out the most in different articles and studies conducted to date in not only individual households but at a national even global level. Also adding to this is the concerns regarding employment. (Ipsos, 2020a).
Health is one of the big concerns for this new consumer, who tends to opt for healthier food (Ipsos 202b, Maldonado, 2020) and looking after their health and hygiene (IPMARK, 2020). This greatly relates to the need for security, this need is beginning to consolidate amongst the population, who value more the systems, processes, packaging, etc. that guarantees their security against getting infected (Food retail, 202, IPMARK, 2020).
After lockdown how has and will change the way in which we consume?
As discussed earlier the worry about the economy adding to that the worry about employment, has provoked consumers to tend to spend less (Carvalho, García, Ortiz, Rodríguez-Mora y Ruiz, 2020, IMOP insights, 2020; Maldonado 2020) or to concentrate more (IPMARK, 2020) looking for special offers/sales (Maldonado, 2020) and travelling less, resulting in looking more at what they spend their money on (IMOP insights, 2020). This behaviour will more than likely continue in the short to medium term, especial those people affected both economically and workwise.
On the other hand it is important to point out changes in consumer behaviour in The New Normal related to health, we have seen that consumers have moved to a healthier diet. Also some have even started to pay particular attention to those food items that can boost their immune system (Ipsos, 2020b), at the same time looking at boosting their hygiene and general health (IPMARK, 2020,Ipsos, 2020b, Maldonado, 2020).
With respect to places to shop, there are those who believe there will be a boost in sales in local shops or nearby ones, especially those in the food sector (IPMARK, 2020), however this could just be the result of measures implemented during the state of alarm which forces people to go to their nearest shop. At the same time, during lockdown there has been an increase of online shopping (IPMARK, 2020, Ipsos, 2020b), and it appears this behaviour will continue once the state of alarm has finished, becoming a behaviour of the new normal. We should point out that Amazon has placed itself for the first time at the top of the brand list that come to consumers’ minds, followed by brands who do deliveries. (IMOP insights, 2020).
Safety has affected travel, both due to the decrease, (Ipsos, 2020b, Maldonado, 2020) such as national travel restrictions or going to their second residence. Physical purchases, during the lockdown, a rise in card payments has been observed (Carvalho, García, Ortiz, Rodríguez-Mora & Ruiz, 2020). This will probably continue in the short to medium term, as this solves in part the consumers’ need for safety.
With respect to leisure, during the lockdown there has been an increase in internet usage but also radio has registered an increase in numbers of listeners, unlike television which remains constant (IMOP insights, 2020). After lockdown it is possible that the use of this media will decrease, at least short term, due to people tending to spend more time out of the house, this is because apart from the lockdown being lifted it will coincide with the time of the year where there is good weather in Spain. However, the habits acquired during the lockdown relating to the use of the internet will probably continue after (For example more consumption of digital media rather than offline alternatives).
What should be take into consideration regarding this new consumer?
The New Normal consumer or the new normal is a more digitalized consumer, who searches to satisfy their need for information and safety. This will only be achieved if the information we provide is clear enough and concise, without exaggerations (“puffery”) or misleading information, which can lead to mistakes. The consumer values transparency (Brooks, Webster, Smith, Woodland, Wessely, Greenberg & Rubin, 2020).
If online commerce continues to increase its numbers then it will be important for companies that use this method to adapt their online sites to make it as simple, intuitive and transparent as possible, With clear information regarding price, product/service description,…but also the delivery method and the security in place to prevent being infected by the virus (for example, are the products and packaging disinfected during the delivery process?).
With respect to the internet it is important to boost communication within areas where we can find our consumer and be able to keep the conversation with them flowing. In the same manner, we should analyse the products or services we offer to see if we should use this route.
Physical trade consumers will also demand safety and preventive measures. Therefore the shops that put those measures in place before everyone else, establishing clear protocols on what to do and use adaptable disinfection systems which are not very invasive (The consumer doesn´t want to be in a permanent state of alert by stimuli that remind them there is danger out there) they will placed in the consumer´s mind as something to make them feel safe or more peace of mind. Also it is important to foster solidarity and establish a flexible and effective communication channel (not an automated response to all clients).
All the elements discussed before, information, safety and transparency, are fundamental when it comes to generating confidence in our user. Confidence is key to them feeling that they can count on us during difficult times, offering protection or peace of mind to lessen their fears and information to diminish their uncertainty. For this reason, as we mentioned before we need to offer information that is reliable, objective and based on well-established criteria, to reduce these feelings and enhance confidence.