Consumer Trends COVID-19: Will life ever be the same again?

By: Pete Cape
Director, Global Knowledge

We all hope for a speedy exit to the current pandemic, and that perhaps we will be better prepared should the need arise again in the future. The question arises, what sort of world will we emerge into? Or will we simply revert to our previous state?

In order to understand this, we need to ask fundamental questions about what drives human behaviour and how entrenched is this.

I’m just a personal sample of one but my journey is illustrative of the journey many are making.

Let me tell you about household grocery shopping. Not only was this the subject of the first market research project I was ever involved in, but it is about the only thing that many of us are allowed to leave our houses for nowadays.

My habit before now, being someone who works from home all the time, was to use grocery shopping as my excuse to leave the “office” and come back into my “home.” I drove to the supermarket (not far as it happens, but I’m lazy) every day. I used the same supermarket I’ve always used – and by the way, I’m also a loyalty club member there.

Then we entered lock-down, and I decided to walk to a different supermarket, one I had always looked down on as being inferior to mine. It was a pleasant walk and I was surprised to find the shelves were full of goods of sufficient quality and the brands I was used to. A pleasanter surprise was the pricing, lower than I was used to.

So now I face a dilemma which is familiar to anyone aware of Hofmeyer’s Conversion Model of Customer Commitment. There are many good reasons to stop using my previous supermarket and few good reasons to continue, conversely there are few good reasons to stop using my new supermarket and many good reasons to continue.

And so, I have become a customer of my new supermarket.

And what of work? I used to pride myself on being a bit of a “road warrior.” In the ten years between 2007 and 2017 I filled almost 25 pages of my passport with immigration stamps and visited Europe countless times. Mainly this was for training, internal and external. Now I conduct training via WebEx or Zoom. It’s not quite as good for me as a trainer, but the delegates seem to get just as much out of it. What will happen after COVID-19? I think perhaps my road warrior days are over. Another permanent change.

None of this would have been predictable prior to the current crisis, there was nothing wrong with my old supermarket, in-person training is superior to remote, but much of my behaviour was habitual, and habits can be broken. This is just one reason why it is so important now, to continue to observe consumer behaviour.

Click here to download Dynata’s Global Trends Report Special Edition: COVID-19