Consumer behavior will change forever post COVID-19; will your business be ready?

Google Trends
Google Trends

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on our way of life. It’s already changed the way we work, the way we think and the way we buy. According to Nielsen’s latest consumer research, in light of the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak Consumers are indeed changing their shopping behavior in ways that could shape future buying patterns and habits.

The question I have for you is this: Are you, the local business owner, prepared to change your business model to meet the new expectations by your future customers, post-coronavirus? Let’s take a look at what Nielsen found and discuss the possible changes that may be coming your way if you want to win local consumers over and earn their business!

As the COVID-19 outbreak unfolded across the nation, Nielsen reported that these consumer behaviors encompass several thresholds as shoppers react to COVID-19 nationwide and as the virus approaches their communities and begins to affect the way they live. The thresholds give early signals of spending trends including changes in the way consumers are making purchases.

Nielsen believes that after the Coronavirus passes, consumers will emerge from their homes and dive back into their local markets with a “new normal.” This means that people will eventually return to their daily routines at work, school and elsewhere but they’ll hold a “renewed cautiousness about health,” but there will be permanent shifts in the supply chain, meaning consumers’ use of e-commerce.

There are a lot of people who don’t like buying things online. They don’t like to book appointments with companies online. They don’t want to buy their groceries online. Why? You see, there’s an unseen force that’s very powerful out there in the marketplace, and it’s called “preference.” This preference is very hard to break.

Here’s one example: There’s a very popular grocery chain in San Antonio that has an outstanding app that allows people to order their groceries through the app for curbside pick up – and they’ve had this option for over a year! And it’s easy, too. You select your store location, you select the day and the time for picking up your groceries, you choose everything you want to buy and you pay via the app. When your order is ready, the app sends you a message telling you to pick your groceries up and they bring them out to your car.

So why wouldn’t I use this option? I just preferred to go into the store, choose my groceries and buy them the old fashioned way! But when the coronavirus outbreak happened, it influenced me to break my “comfort zone” and use the app to buy my groceries. After using it just once, I don’t think I’ll ever step foot into the store again.

Yes, a permanent shift in my consumer habits!

I’m not alone either, according to Google Trends. In the last 90 days, keyword searches for delivery of groceries and restaurant food take out has started to grow drastically in our market. In fact, Google Trends reports that searches for “Grocery Delivery” has grown by 200% in the San Antonio Market over past seven days and searches for “Restaurant Take Out” has tripled on a nationwide basis. This data shows that consumers are changing now, but we are also creating a new norm after COVID-19 is long gone.

Think about how your consumers will change post-COVID. Will more of your customers book your services online? Will more of them text you instead of calling?

Perhaps yes.

We recommend that you flex your company’s model to go with consumer trends that will become the new norm. More electronic booking of your services, more electronic communications with your customers.

Your customers will also be more health conscience, so cleanliness should be made a priority whether you own a physical location or if your employees go into customers’ homes. Be conscience of your customers’ desires post-COVID and you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors!