Ambiguous Consumer Behavior Trends during COVID-19 Pandemic
- “How will the market behave?”
- “Will the slowdown last the entire financial year?”
- “Will the consumer start buying soon or will they limit themselves to their basic requirements?”
- “What will be the place of my brand and business in the entire market scenario?”
- “What products and services will be the most sought after once this pandemic is over?”
- “How will the continuous existence of COVID-19 further affect consumer behavior and purchase patterns?”
These are some of the questions that continue to haunt most of the businesses in today’s time. Sadly, there is no definitive answer to any of these questions. This is simply because of the emergence of absolutely new consumer trends in the market that keep on changing along with the changing government policies regarding the lockdowns, financial packages, curfews and other such factors. These uncertain circumstances have left the businesses scratching their corporate heads like never before.
The present dilemma of the producers and big market players is a stark contrast to their confident approach over the last few decades. Most of the businesses and brands had been depending on recorded data about their consumers and their buying behaviors ― the purchase habits of the customers, their aspirations, what they buy, how they buy, when they buy, how they make their decisions and where are they from. The biggest decisions like startup acquisitions, investments, buyouts and mergers were taking place on the basis of these customer databases and recorded trends. The top companies and brands were even boasting about their technical achievements with regard to tracking and understanding the consumer trends and their ability to gauge and develop their products accordingly.
However, the sudden appearance of COVID-19 threw the entire world into a disarray that most of us had never witnessed before in our lives. The widespread reach of this pandemic didn’t spare even a single aspect of society; including our livelihoods. The jobs and market opportunities were thrown off-balance on every level resulting in the disruption of the well-established demand and supply chain ― an obviously overlooked aspect of the contemporary businesses
This leads to the biggest question the businesses are facing in today’s times ― DO YOU REALLY KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER?
Various studies have been conducted in recent times to analyze and understand the buying trends followed by the customers in the times of the pandemic. According to the earliest studies in the initial stages of the pandemic, most of the consumers are looking at the future with uncertainty and believe in reserving their money for only the essential items like food, rent and to pay unavoidable EMIs. This trend is mainly owing to the loss of livelihood by a big section of the society, and the possibility of losing employment for the rest of the workforce. Most of the people across the world are also vary of essential supplies going extinct in the market, and are spending most of their money in stockpiling the food items for themselves and their families. This has concentrated the paying customers in a corner of the product and supply chain.
The second most common category consists of consumers who have started to spend less in their overall capacity and are waiting for the pandemic to get over. Their spend share on groceries has shrunken in accordance to their other expenses. The least common categories of the consumers are the ones that have either continued to spend as before or have increased their expenses. This category obviously belongs to the most privileged classes of society. Even though these sections contribute heavily to the demand and supply chain, their number constitute only a small percentage of the entire spenders.
This brings us to the next important question ― What needs to be done to in order to ensure a business’ survival and stability in today’s times?
The first thing to do in the present situation is to unlearn whatever the companies have learnt and created over the last few decades. We should be ready to don a fresh hat and be ready to face a new consumer whose habit may have completely changed and whose aspirations may be very different from the past. The other aspect that needs to be taken into account while formulating survival policies in these troubled times is to keep a track of the changing trends among consumers.
Another important facet of this changing scenario can be to make the consumers an active part of the challenges one’s business is facing. Direct interaction with the customers might take one a long way, given the customers themselves might be able to relate to the condition of the companies.
Some studies have predicted the emergence of a new consumer trend with changing times ― consumers staying home and trying to get back to their past spending. As people are getting more and more used to the present scenario and more confident about the security of their employments, the trends have seen a slight shift, especially keeping in view the change in government policies regarding wine shops and food take outs and deliveries.
But only the time will tell what the future has in store for big and small businesses. The key solution of the present problem lies in staying calm and waiting patiently for this storm to pass while keep reinventing both the business and the brand you own.