Making sense of customer behaviours for the post-pandemic world

All of us will agree that these are terrible times, probably the worst that most of us have ever seen. The only hope as of now is that if change is the only constant, then this time shall pass too. However, defining shifts in the way we live our lives will mark this time. For those of us who survive (morbid thought!), I genuinely believe that the post-pandemic world will be a better place.

Between the first wave and second wave, it will be two years, on an optimistic note, by when we will get to see some semblance of normalcy. This is a long enough time to form entirely new habits and adjust to a new way of life by any standards. Our behaviours and mindsets are already changing, and as neuroplasticity sets in, these new mindsets, new behaviours, and new abilities will be the new normal.

What are the new customer behaviours and habits which will define the post-Covid era?

• Do I really need it?
We have realised how little we need to live comfortably, and it is not likely that we will go back to our old spending and consumption habits so soon. Overall, consumers are dramatically reducing their discretionary spending, which has significant consequences for industries such as restaurants, apparel, footwear, accessories, travel and entertainment. The bad news is that these reduced spending patterns are likely to continue indicating a longer-term shift towards minimalism among consumers.

• Planet gets some mind-space
The world has realised that Covid is a way for nature to get back at us in more ways than one. Covid has done more to create consciousness about the planet at an individual level than all the climate change efforts put together. This consciousness has started impacting our choices in favour of products made with sustainable practices, optimum utilisation of resources and eco-friendly packaging. Riding this wave of consumer preferences will also be local brands, organic, ayurvedic and natural products.

• Entertainment delivered
We are not likely to start flocking to malls and theatres the way we used to; we will step out less frequently and prefer that all our needs, including entertainment, be taken care of from within the confines of our homes. OTT platforms and online entertainment is only set to get bigger.

• End of the big fat wedding
The big fat weddings are not going to be as fat anymore. Even people who can afford it may not sign up for hosting big events; people would prefer small intimate gatherings, and destination events/getaways for a select few will be the preferred way to go.

• Hybrid working
How much ever, we may be cursing the juggle between home and work duties, nevertheless we have realised the advantages and comfort of working from home. And organisations, which were fence-sitters on a work-from-home policy, were compelled to convert as business contingency plans kicked in. Now having done that, they see the benefits WFH is offering in terms of costs with minimal impact on productivity. Imagine the implication this has for the wide variety of industry segments whose existence was intertwined with offices and officegoers.

• Eating out, not as much
Eating out and socialising will take a back seat, also impacted by less physical attendance at the workplace. Strange it may sound, but it was often the workplaces that created opportunities for people to plan interactions outside of work. Eating-in will thrive, on the back of food delivery, and you still will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food.

We all must think about what these trends mean for our businesses or the businesses we consult. Seeing these just as temporary changes, waiting and watching from the sidelines hoping for things to return to the old normal, will be fraught with risk. Consumer behaviours are shifting for good. Remember, you can’t stop the waves bringing these changes in consumer behaviour. The only thing you can do is to learn to surf these waves. Are you ready?

Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to bigger change to come!

By Sandeep Jain (Consultant with IndusGuru Network Partners)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of IndusGuru Network Partners

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