What Does Coronavirus (Covid-19) Mean for Consumer Behaviour & Brands?

Well this certainly isn't what I had in mind for March and April 2020, how about you? I hope you are keeping well during this global pandemic which has put the world firmly on pause. We are witnessing the seismic impact of the crisis unfold with health at its epicentre. In today's post I take a look at the seismic waves in my domain of consumer decision-making behaviour, both in terms of what is happening right now and also the outlook ahead post-covid.

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Panic Buying...need I say more?

You've seen it on the media, even in your own supermarket - people scrapping over the last packet of spaghetti or loo roll. But we are witnessing not just panic buying in retail consumer decision making behaviour, but also the rise of FOMO decision behaviour. Fear of missing out is triggering some consumers to purchase because they are observing the panic buying behaviour of others around them. I've talked about FOMO before here, but it's certainly ratched up about a billion notches with what is going on right now. We need to encourage responsible consumer decision-making.

SME Retailers leverage an Omnichannel Strategy

Omnichannel was a strategy traditionally reserved for the big boys and girls of retail - the powerhouse brands that we see on our high streets up and down the country. But many SME retailers who have traditionally focused on a physical store have had no choice but to ramp-up or create a robust digital offering. There has always been an appetite for an omnichannel retail approach among SMEs but I have found in some early conversations SMEs have struggled with knowing where to start. However, brands have had no choice but to make the jump. I've popped some tips here if you facing that challenge. Going forward omnichannel implementation will become the new modus operandi for SME retailers. What we have learned during this whole moment is omichannel retailing as a definition is about being customer centric. SMEs need to adapt to customers and be present whenever and however the customer demands and that isn't going to go away post-crisis.

Redefining our High Street and the Role of the Store Post-Covid

With the economics that accompany the current pandemic it's make or break for some brands. According to UK Head of Retail for KPMG, Paul Martin at Retail Transformation Live 2020 the bottom 20% of retail will be finished. The figure is staggering but as we know economic crises serve as catalysts and speed up the process of failure and success. Laura Ashley is one such case in point - it's important to note that coronavirus wasn't the reason for the chain folding but it certainly was the push behind the inevitable. We will also see a tighter concentration of retail stores moving forward, there will be less stores but the ones that do exist will do physical retail better. Going forward stores will be much more tech focused and we will see a flurry of brands bring tech into their stores to mirror the online customer experience more closely to create a better experience.

Is your brand on the naughty or nice list?

Consumers don't forget bad experiences and it is especially true that they do not forget the actions of brands during a nationwide pandemic. There has been a lot of chatter across the media about this with campaigns to boycott brands post-pandemic. There are even lists on social media praising and shaming particular brands for their actions. The best example I have observed in all of this comes from unfamiliar territory - football.. Ex-Manchester United Footballer Gary Neville has donated use of his hotels to support Manchester NHS staff working during the crisis. Social media commended Neville for his actions and even supporters of rival club, Liverpool have praised Neville vowing to stay at his hotel chain in the future. Now if that isn't a change in consumer behaviour then I don't know what is. Another example is Asda CEO stepping into the spotlight on adverts to highlight that we are all in this together. This isn't what CEOs usually do, but a smart PR move indeed. The key thing here is your brand will be judged by the actions it takes today, how it responds to the crisis and what it does to help those in need. Now is the time for brands to communicate, to assert and show how the brand lives up to its values. Consumers are open to switching brands right now as their habitual decision making is interrupted and brands doing good things will have an impact on future consumer decision making behaviour.

#consumerdecisionmaking #shopperbehaviour #retail #omnichannel #consumerbehaviour

Dr Sam Lynch - is a researcher in consumer decision-making and omnichannel fashion retail. You can find out more by visiting the drsamlynch.co.uk homepage or reach out via twitter @drsamlynch

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