COVID drastically shifted the dynamic of workforces across the globe. It forced countless companies to lay off employees or pivot to remote work. Working from home amongst a pandemic has had a massive effect on consumer behavior and where they shop. Before COVID turning into a full-scale pandemic, brick and mortar establishments were on their last leg. Now that lockdowns are in place and quarantining is mandatory in some countries, physical businesses have suffered.
COVID consumer behavior is led by the online shopping behemoth Amazon and trickles down to other corporations. Businesses like Walmart, Target and numerous clothing companies have shifted their services to a primarily digital landscape. Consumers are staying home more now than ever. In their spare time away from work, the general population is buying more online than ever before. Aside from the ease of purchasing something online and having it show up at your doorstep two days later, gone are the days of traveling from store to store looking for an item in stock. At the spark of COVID, toilet paper became a scarce resource in stores leading to unsavory human interactions. Online marketplaces have made it incredibly easy to find everything you could need at the click of a button. Which, in turn, has made it incredibly hard for brick and mortar shops to compete.
Online shopping will remain a dominant marketplace post-COVID, but the isolation of quarantine only benefits physical stores. The social aspect of shopping can’t be replicated online and will remain as long as stores still stand. Consumers will be looking for a nostalgic experience post-COVID, either walking down the isles of clothing stores or doing some unnecessary furniture shopping. For services, expect consumer behavior to remain fairly unchanged. For everyday purchases, online interfaces will reign king. Corporations with strong infrastructure and hefty financial backing will get along just fine. Mom and Pop shops plus local businesses will more than likely sink without consumer support.
Despite the prevalence of COVID, we still live in a divided world where politics influence some’s everyday decisions. Personal beliefs will play a major factor in consumer behavior post COVID. More companies have taken to social media to identify their customer base, and some have done incredible jobs of tailoring communities around their product. The values that a company stands for during these trying times will determine how people feel about them when the storm has settled. How you treat people in a pandemic will carry on when the world has returned to a new normal.
There is little evidence to believe that life and consumer behavior will return to the state it was before COVID. Local businesses were already struggling as the inevitable online marketplace crept its way into our daily lives. Consumer behaviors will never return to normal, and companies will have to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their customers. The world will never return to the old normal, but post-COVID patterns will still heavily lean into personal interactions. Communicating a positive company-wide purpose dedicated to consumers will improve retail and online performances and keep you relevant.